Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Lithuania

Kernave

Kernavė was a medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and today is a tourist attraction and an archeological site. In 2004 Kernavė Archaeological Site was included into UNESCO world heritage list. The area of Kernavė was sparingly inhabited at the end of the Paleolithic era, with the number of settlements significantly increasing in the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras. It is believed, that first inha ...
Founded: 0 - 300 AD | Location: Kernavė, Lithuania

Ukmerge Hill Fort

Ukmergė was first mentioned as a settlement in 1333. It was essentially a wooden fortress that stood on a hill, near the confluence of the Vilkmergė River and the Šventoji River. Ukmergė was attacked by the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order in 1333, 1365, 1378, 1386, and even in 1391, already after the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387. During the last attack, Ukmergė was burned to the ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Ukmergė, Lithuania

Medvegalis Hill Fort

Medvėgalis was a 14th-century hill fort in Samogitia, located in present-day Šilalė District Municipality. It was first mentioned in 1316 in written texts and was one of the most important and strongest Lithuanian forts in the area. It was attacked by the Teutonic Knights over 20 times throughout history, including the Siege of Medvėgalis in 1329, when it fell to the Teutonic forces and its defenders were converted to ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Šilale, Lithuania

Apuole Historic Village

Apuolė is a historic village is the oldest Lithuanian settlement mentioned in written sources. Apuolė was an important hill fort of the Curonians, one of the Baltic tribes. Archaeologists dated the wooden fortress to the 1st century AD. The hill fort is situated on the confluence of Luoba and its tributary Brukis rivulet. According to archaeological research, a large village was situated near the hill fort. This ...
Founded: 0 - 100 AD | Location: Apuolė, Lithuania

Molavenai Hill Fort

Two hillforts are located in the vicinity of the Molavėnai village. Two nature monuments are protected by the state – an old oak tree near one of the hillfots and a stone called Mokas. Molavėnų I hillfort was first erected in the 1st century AD and consisted of defensive fortifications and a wooden fort. The site is located on a long (350 m), narrow projection into a bend of the river Še&scaron ...
Founded: 0 - 100 AD | Location: Molavėnai, Lithuania

Alytus Castle Mound

Alytus mound is the only preserved witness of the foundation of the town and it dates probaly from the 11th century. It is said that a wooden castle was standing here in the 14th century that was burnt down later by the Teutonic Order. The detailed route to Alytus castle is described in Teutonic “The Description of Lithuanian Roads”, this castle defended the main roads to Trakai and Vilnius from crusaders. A ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Alytus, Lithuania

Sventoji

Šventoji is an important archaeological site as the first artifacts are dated about 3000 BC. A famous cane shaped as moose head was also found in the town. It is a former fishermen village now turned into a tourist town. The town always struggled to develop a port, which had to compete with nearby Klaipėda and Liepāja. Larger port was constructed in the second half of the 17th century, especially when in ...
Founded: 3000 BC | Location: Sventoji, Lithuania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.