Top Historic Sights in Vilnius, Lithuania

Explore the historic highlights of Vilnius

Vilnius Cathedral

The Cathedral of Vilnius (Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania and the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania. It is believed that in pre-Christian times, the Baltic pagan god Perkūnas was worshiped at the site of the cathedral. It has also been postulated that the Lithuanian King Mindaugas ordered the construction of the original cath ...
Founded: 1429 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was built originally in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Royal Palace in the Lower Castle evolved over the years and prospered during the 16th and mid-17th centuries. For four centuries the palace was the political, administrative and cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Soon after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was incorporated into ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

St. John's Church

One of the most picturesque parts of the Vilnius University is the St. John"s Church and its bell tower. The construction of the Gothic style church lasted for almost 40 years and was completed in 1426. In 1571 the church was transferred to the Order of Jesuits and became a part of the university complexes. Besides masses, the Church of Sts. Johns has also witnessed student protests, theatre performances, and welcom ...
Founded: 1386-1426 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Gediminas' Tower

Gediminas' Tower is the only remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius. The first fortifications were built of wood by Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Gediminas. Later the first brick castle was completed in 1409 by Grand Duke Vytautas. Some remnants of the old castle have been restored, guided by archeological research. It is possible to climb to the top of the hill on foot or by taking a funicular. The tower ...
Founded: c. 1409 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius University

Vilnius University, established in 1579, is the oldest and the largest university in Lithuania. Nowadays it includes 19 academic subdivisions, almost 3000 employees and more than 23700 students in total. The Vilnius University is one of the most important educational institutions in Lithuania which has operated for more than 400 years already. As a part of Lithuanian history, it also distinguishes in owning some objects o ...
Founded: 1579 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

National Museum of Lithuania

The National Museum of Lithuania, established in 1952, is a state-sponsored historical museum that encompasses several significant structures and a wide collection of written materials and artifacts. It also organizes archeological digs in Lithuania. The museum consists of five main departments, although three of them are located close to each other to the Vilnius Castle Complex (into the New Arsenal, the Old Arsenal and ...
Founded: 1952 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius Town Hall

The town hall in Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1432. Initially it was a Gothic style building, and has since been reconstructed many times. The current Vilnius Town Hall was rebuilt in neoclassical style according to the design by Laurynas Gucevičius in 1799. It has remained unchanged since then. Its Gothic cellars have been preserved and may be visited. Nowadays it is used for representational purposes ...
Founded: 1799 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

St. Anne's Church

St. Anne's Church (Šv. Onos bažnyčia) is a prominent example of both Flamboyant Gothic and Brick Gothic styles. St. Anne"s is a prominent landmark in the Old Town of Vilnius that enabled the district to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The first church at this site, constructed of wood, was built for Anna, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, the first wife of Vytautas the Great. Originall ...
Founded: 1495–1500 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

St. Casimir's Church

St. Casimir’s Church was founded by the Jesuits and dedicated to Lithuania’s patron saint Prince Casimir Jagiellon (1458-1484). The construction of the glorious building began in 1604 and was completed in 1635. Burnt to the ground just 20 years later when the Russians invaded in 1655, conflagration visited twice again within the next century in 1709 and 1749 before the architect, mathematician and astronomer T ...
Founded: 1604-1635 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace (Prezidentūra) is the official office and eventual official residence of the President of Lithuania. The palace dates back to the 14th century and during its history it has undergone various reconstructions, supervised by prominent architects, including Laurynas Gucevičius and Vasily Stasov. In 1997 the palace became the official seat of the President of Lithuania. The Palace traces its ...
Founded: 1750 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Museum of Genocide Victims

The Museum of Genocide Victims, also known as KGB Museum, was established in 1992. In 1997 it was transferred to the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania. The museum is located in the former KGB headquarters across from the Lukiškės Square, therefore it is informally referred to as the KGB Museum. The museum is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting documents relating to the 50-year occupation ...
Founded: 1992 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Lithuanian Art Museum

The Lithuanian Art Museum was initially established in Vilnius in 1933 as the Vilnius City Museum. It houses Lithuania's largest art collection. The collections at the museum include about 2,500 paintings dated from the 16th to the 19th Century; these consist mostly of portraits of nobility and clergy of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy from the 16th to the 18th centuries, and religious works from Lithuanian churches and cloist ...
Founded: 1933 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Orthodox Holy Spirit Church

The complex of the Holy Spirit church and adjacent monastery was established in 1567. The construction was ordered by the King of Lithuania-Poland Wladyslaw Vasa. By the end of the 16th century, a monastery, a school and a printing shop were situated next to the church. In 1749 the church was badly damaged by fire. After the reconstruction between 1749-1753 (made by architect January Kristof Glaubic) the church became th ...
Founded: 1567 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Gate of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn, a city-gate, was built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city of Vilnius. It has also been known as the Medininkai Gate, as it led to the village Medininkai south of Vilnius as well as Aštra broma, which derivative for the Lithuanian language word aštra meaning sharp. Of the nine city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed by ...
Founded: 1503-1522 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Verkiai Palace

Until the end of 14th century Verkiai was a property of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. There was a wooden manor even in 13th century. In 1387 Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila, on occasion of accepting Christianity, donated this place to Vilnius' Episcopate. Verkiai served as the permanent summer residence of Vilnius bishops until the end of 18th century. Verkiai Palace became widely known after bishop Ignacy Jakub Massalski ...
Founded: 1840s | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius Old Town

The Old Town of Vilnius, one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Central Europe, has an area of 3.59 square kilometres. It encompasses 74 quarters, with 70 streets and lanes numbering 1487 buildings with a total floor area of 1,497,000 square meters. The oldest part of the Lithuanian capital ofVilnius, it has developed over the course of many centuries, and has been shaped by the city's history and a constantly ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Saint Nicholas Church

Saint Nicholas Church is mentioned in document for the first time in 1387. In 1901-39 the Church of St. Nicholas was the only church in Vilnius where the mass was held in Lithuanian. By the same token it was a centre of Lithuanian culture (its famous dean Kristupas Čibiras was killed in 1942 during a bombing raid). After the World War II, the Cathedral of Vilnius was closed and the Curia of the Archdiocese of Vilnius wa ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Three Crosses

Three Crosses is a monument designed by Polish–Lithuanian architect and sculptor Antoni Wiwulski in 1916. It was torn down in 1950 by order of the Soviet Union authorities. A new monument designed by Henrikas Šilgalis was erected in its place in 1989. There has been three wooden crosses on the hill at least since 1636. The origins of the monument are explained in a fictitious legend, written in the Bychowiec Chronicle ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Bastion of Vilnius City Wall

The bastion is a Renaissance-style fortification and surviving part of the Vilnius Defensive Wall. It consists of a tower merged in the city defence wall, underground gun ports and a connecting corridor, which turns into a 48-metre long tunnel. The bastion was built in the first half of the 17th century by the German military engineer Friedrich Getkant. The Bastion was severely damaged during the wars with Moscow in the m ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

St. Peter and St. Paul's Church

St. Peter and St. Paul"s Church in Vilnius. Its interior has masterful compositions of stucco mouldings by Giovanni Pietro Perti and ornamentation by Giovanni Maria Galli of Milan, and is considered a Lithuanian Baroque masterpiece. It is believed that the first wooden church was built on this location after Jogaila"s conversion. It was rebuilt at the end of 15th century, but was destroyed by a fire in 1594. An ...
Founded: 1668-1676 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Radziwill Palace

Radziwiłł Palace is a Late Renaissance palace in the Old Town of Vilnius. It had been the second palace of Radziwiłłs by importance in Vilnius and the largest one. It is likely that Mikołaj 'the Black' Radziwiłł"s wooden Vilnius mansion was on the same site, but the current building was constructed by the order of Janusz Radziwiłł from 1635 until 1653, according to the design by Jan Ullrich. The building fell in ...
Founded: 1635-1653 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Orthodox Church of the Apparition

Built in 1903 and topped with several beautiful Neo-Byzantine cupolas, Church of the Apparition is one of the finest Russian Orthodox churches in Vilnius. Among the numerous icons hanging inside are potted plants that make the place feel really alive. Next to the icons are special prayers for each saint, but as everything in the church is written in Old Church Slavonic you’ll need a translator to help work them out. ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Slushko Palace

Slushko Palace was erected in 1690–1700 by voivode of Polock Dominik Słuszko of the Clan of Ostoja, who ordered creating an artificial peninsula on Neris for the purpose of building the palace there. The peninsula was formed from the soil of the leveled down hill separating Antakalnis from the Vilnius Castles. Initially the façades of the palace were unified by a giant order of Ionic pilasters framing hu ...
Founded: 1690–1700 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Sapieha Palace

Sapieha Palace is a High Baroque palace in Vilnius and the only surviving of several palaces formerly belonging to the Sapieha family in the city. The palace, ordered by the Great Hetman of Lithuania Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Younger was built in Baroque style in 1691-1697 in the place of former wooden mansion of Lew Sapieha (who died here in 1633). The palace was designed by Giovanni Pietro Pertiand decorated with fresco ...
Founded: 1691-1697 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Rokantiskes Castle Ruins

Rokantiškės Castle was located east of Vilnius on a high hill near the Vilnia River. First castle was built in 12th century. In 16th century, it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and has been the seat of the Olshanski family. Alexander Olshanski, Yuri Olshanski and the last family member Pawel Olshanski have lived there. After his death the castle was inherited by Bona Sforza and later passed to the Pac fam ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Paneriai Memorial Museum

Between July 1941, and August 1944, approximately 100,000 people of whom over half were Jewish were murdered at this site by the Nazis and a hotpotch of willing Lithuanians from such sinister organisations as the Ypatingasis Būrys (Vilnius Special Squad). A traumatic but necessary part of any Jewish-related visit to Lithuania, find several monuments and the remains of the pits where the victims were burned. The typi ...
Founded: 1941 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.