National Museum of Lithuania

Vilnius, 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 the Tower of Gediminas Castle).

The history of the Old Lithuania (between 13th century - 1795) is exposed in the New Arsenal. The Ethnic exposition involves Folk art and home comforts of Lithuanian rustics of the 18th-19th centuries. One of the biggest archeological expositions in Europe called “Lithuanian prehistory” is located in the Old Arsenal. The Tower of Gediminas Castle includes an impressive collection of weaponry of 14th-17th centuries.

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Details

Founded: 1952
Category: Museums in Lithuania

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Liubov Bevz (4 months ago)
Great place to visit. Entrance was just 3 EUR and there are lots of interesting things collected. I loved ethnographic expozition with reconstruction of typical traditional Lithuanian households. And especially interesting is exposition about unique Lithuanian art called Cross crafting.
Ray (6 months ago)
Museums are very affordable in Vilnius and I definitely recommend everyone to visit this one. They even have free cloakrooms!
Bill Dinger (6 months ago)
An expansive museum covering the grounds and barracks of the old Vilnius castle. Has numerous artifacts about Lithuanian history and it's information placards are in both English and Lithuanian. The cost is 2 Euros for each section, and there are like 3 aections. Takes about 2 hours if you go to all 3 places as well as hike up to the castle. Please note castle hike is up a very steep pitch with uneven cobblestones and limited to no handrails. There is a furnicular but it wasn't working when I was there. The top offers great views of Vilnius
Olga P (6 months ago)
A very interesting museum! And only 1,5 euros for students!
Usman Malik (9 months ago)
Love this museum. Nice collection. It’s not so big but got plenty of stuff. Tickets about €3 for adult and kids free. They have got musical instruments, maps of old Lithuania, clothes used to wear and different areas of Lithuania and much more. Must visit if you like history.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.