Biržai Castle is an earth bastion-type castle. The construction started in 1586 by the order of Krzysztof Mikołaj Radziwiłł. In 1575, preparing for this construction, a dam was built on the Agluona and Apaščia rivers at their confluence, and the artificial Lake Širvėna, covering about 40 km², was created. Major castle building works were finished in 1589.

Since the second half of the 17th century, the castle has been the main seat of the Biržai-Dubingiai Radziwiłł family line, which was transferred here from the Dubingiai Castle. Biržai Castle served as a major defensive structure during the wars with Sweden.

The castle was reconstructed from ruins in the 1980s, in the Renaissance-Baroque style. The residential manor of the castle houses a library and a regional history museum 'Sėla' (literally Selonia), founded in 1928.

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Founded: 1586-1589
Category: Castles and fortifications in Lithuania

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Edith Talmon (3 years ago)
Awesome place, you can stil sense old history bits in the air... I visited library in the castle as well, really peaceful place.. Love it.
RK Geetha (3 years ago)
Did not visit the castle from inside but from out it looks splendid with a pleasant green garden and walkway. Have an ice-cream at the cart just outside. The ginger flavoured one is hot and nice. The black Berry one has lots of fruit in it. Loved it. The castle premises is surrounded by water bodies-lakes I think, again with lovely paths to walk on. Bucolic. A perfect picnic spot.
Marius Matonis (3 years ago)
Very nice place. You could walk around the castle and get amazing view over Birzai. The entrance still has old entrance and looking good. There was some construction work around area. We were in the evening, so the castle was closed but we will definitely go inside next time.
Simona Jareckaite (3 years ago)
Very pretty and loads of amazing views. A must if you visit the town. Being born in the town, I've always visited the Birzai castle for some walks and relaxation. Museum is amazing and they host a number of events. The beer tasting sessions are a must if you've never been before!
Justinas Lelys (3 years ago)
Very nice and calm place in a small town located in the north of Lithuania. Here you can take some authentic Lithuanian entertainment and taste home brewed beer. Its worth to mention that I had my wedding ceremony here in the balcony of the second floor.
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Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".