Still Popular for Filming

On the website Emerging Europe, Devin Haas writes about Lithuania’s continued popularity with filmmakers – with at least five recent films and series being based there.

Netflix’s Young Wallander is based on a popular Swedish detective novel series set in Malmö, but it was almost entirely shot in Vilnius. To celebrate its success, Vilnius has launched a new walking tour that traces the steps of the young detective throughout the Lithuanian capital. But Wallander is not the only iconic character to have been featured in a Lithuanian context in recent years. Other than Stranger Things and HBO’s Chernobyl, fans may recognize Lithuania in five other movies. 

The heritage of Vilnius’ Old Town, with its picturesque cobblestone streets, Gothic architecture, and baroque churches, was harnessed by Netflix series The Last Czars in 2019. Czar Nicholas II’s coronation was filmed at the Orthodox cathedral of the Dormition of Theotokos, where the grandeur and purity of the cathedral is stunningly contrasted with the quaint riverbank of the Vilnelė river. The courtyard of the church and monastery of the Holy Trinity, which can be found after passing through the ornate Basilian Gates, is also nearby. When visitors see the characteristic Russian Byzantine architecture, they immediately feel as though they are in the centre of the miniseries. 

Vilnius lends itself to filmmakers due to its diverse scenery. Young Wallander was filmed almost entirely in the district of Šeškinė, a part of Vilnius known for its Soviet architecture, with cinematic views of the urban landscape stretching as far as the eye can see. Šeškinė is also famous for its ridge or esker, commonly known as the Oz of Šeškinė, carved 16,000 to 18,000 years ago by a glacier. It now offers stunning panoramas of the surrounding hills and treetops. 


The Trakų Vokė manor, a grandiose 800-hectare complex erected in the 19th-century, has received particular attention from producers for its luxurious neo-classicist interiors: marble sculptures, intricate wooden and gold finishings, and walls of rich maroon and sage green. The lavish manor also is where HBO’S 2019 film Catherine the Great starring Helen Mirren takes place: all of the scenes that take place in the Empress’s private palace were filmed here. 


Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, is renowned for its rich history and Art Deco interwar architectural monuments. This decorative cityscape has become the backdrop for many international productions, including the Emmy-nominated series Tokyo Trial in 2016, which transformed the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum into a Japanese War Tribunal. In addition, the BBC’s The Rise of the Nazis of 2019 featured the Kaunas Garrison Officers’ Club Building, a European Heritage Label site used by the Lithuanian Armed Forces. 

The creators of the German series Sisi found 19th-century Austria in the spell-binding Rokiškis manor in the northwest of Lithuania. The palace, which is the centrepiece of the manor complex, is encircled by a 30-hectare-large historic park with distinctive radial alleyways — the first of its kind in Lithuania. Fans of Sisi can step into the regal atmosphere and get lost in the endless wood-laden hallways and velvet upholstery as they look for traces of the Austrian imperial family here. 

Wikipedia lists 26 films and series filmed in Lithuania, while the full Internet Movie Database IMDb lists 345 entries in all. Here is Wikipedia’s list: Defiance, The Devil’s Arithmetic , Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God, The Eichmann Show, Elizabeth I, The Forgotten Battle, Frozen Silence, The Generation of Evil, Gentlemen, Hannibal Rising, Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II, Hoon Tari Heer, Kompromat, Liberation, Loss, Parlor, Perhaps Love, Redirected, Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, Run Boy Run, Siberian Education, Sobibor , TransSiberian, Vesper, War of the Dead, Wildeye.

(Photos courtesy of Lithuania Travel)