Top historic sites in 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

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 t ...
Founded: c. 1409 | 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.