Top historic sites in Vilnius

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

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

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

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 ...
Founded: 1636 | 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 t ...
Founded: c. 1409 | 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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.

The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.

After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.

The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.

Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.