The first masonry castle in Dubingiai was constructed by Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, in 1412-1413 on an island, now apeninsula, in Lake Asveja in order to secure the capital Vilnius from attacks from Livonia. No accounts concerning the architecture of Vytautas' castle have survived. It was acquired by Jerzy Radziwiłł prior to 1508. He constructed a new palace in the Renaissance style in the first half of the 16th century. After the death of Jerzy, his son Mikolaj 'the Red' inherited the property, causing the town nearby to become an important hub for the Reformation in Lithuania. Barbara Radziwiłł spent five months in the castle after her marriage to Sigismund Augustus in 1547. The palace used to be one of the most luxurious residences in the Duchy, lagging not much behind the Royal Palace. Dubingiai Castle was the main seat of the Biržai-Dubingiai line of the Radziwiłł family until the second half of the 17th century, when it was transferred to Biržai Castle.
During the Polish–Swedish wars, the castle was pillaged by armies loyal to the King of Poland and was confiscated fromBogusław Radziwiłł. It returned to the family in the second half of the 17th century. The neglected castle and church gradually fell into ruins. It was sold to Michał Tyszkiewicz in 1808. Today only the foundations and several cellars of the castle and church remain and are being researched.
The masonry Calvinist Church of the Holy Spirit was built in the Renaissance style near the castle by Janusz Radziwiłłprior to 1620 and was intended to be the mausoleum of the Radziwiłł family. The most prominent members of the family were interred there, including Mikołaj 'the Black' Radziwiłł (1565) and his wife Elżbieta Szydłowiecka (1562), Mikołaj 'the Red' Radziwiłł (1584) and Janusz Radziwiłł (1620). Their remains were discovered during archaeologicalexcavations in 2004 and reburied there in 2009.References:
Ananuri was a castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi, a feudal dynasty which ruled the area from the 13th century. The castle was the scene of numerous battles. The current ensemble dates from the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1739, Ananuri was attacked by forces from a rival duchy, commanded by Shanshe of Ksani and was set on fire. The Aragvi clan was massacred. However, four years later, the local peasants revolted against rule by the Shamshe, killing the usurpers and inviting King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. However, in 1746, King Teimuraz was forced to suppress another peasant uprising, with the help of King Erekle II of Kakheti. The fortress remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.
The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenellated curtain wall. The upper fortification with a large square tower, known as Sheupovari, is well preserved and is the location of the last defense of the Aragvi against the Shamshe. The lower fortification, with a round tower, is mostly in ruins.
Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The older Church of the Virgin, which abuts a tall square tower, has the graves of some of the Dukes of Aragvi. It dates from the first half of the 17th century, and was built of brick. The interior is no longer decorated, but of interest is a stone baldaquin erected by the widow of the Duke Edishera, who died in 1674.
The larger Church of the Mother of God (Ghvtismshobeli), built in 1689 for the son of Duke Bardzem. It is a central dome style structure with richly decorated façades, including a carved north entrance and a carved grapevine crosson the south façade. It also contains the remains of a number of frescoes, most of which were destroyed by the fire in the 18th century.