Vilnius is the capital of the Republic of Lithuania and the largest administrative heart with all major political, economic, social and cultural centres. Current area of Vilnius is about 400 square km. Vilnius is the largest city in the country, with the population of approximately 560 thousand, according to the data of 2001-2009.
The Historic Centre (the Old Town) of Vilnius in 1994 was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; it is one of the largest in Eastern Europe (360 ha). The most valuable historic and cultural heritage is concentrated here. The buildings in the Old Town – there are about 1.5 thousands of them – were built in a number of different centuries, therefore, it is a mixture of all European architectural styles.
In 2009, at the same time as Linz (Austria), Vilnius was an European Capital of Culture. Vilnius has always been a multicultural city. Self-governing of the City was restored after March 11, 1990 when Lithuania became an independent country. Vilnius City Council was elected democratically in the spring of 1990. The present Vilnius City Council, elected on April 2015, for a four-year term, has 51 members.
Vilnius Old Town Renewal Agency (OTRA) was established in 1998 by Vilnius City Council following Vilnius Old Town Revitalization Strategy (approved in 1996) for the integral management of the UNESCO World Heritage site – Vilnius Historic Centre. Key activities are: coordination of architectural conservation, upgrade and maintenance programs (physical renewal of buildings and public areas, conservation and restoration of authentic buildings and their elements), community awareness rising and support ("Community Development" program), promotion of traditional crafts (“Fine Arts and Ethnographical Trades and Fairs” program), development of EU and international co-operation programs, sensitization, awareness rising activities at OTRA Information Centre (exhibitions, seminars, public meetings, debates).