Until the end of 14th century Verkiai was a property of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. There was a wooden manor even in 13th century. In 1387 Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila, on occasion of accepting Christianity, donated this place to Vilnius' Episcopate. Verkiai served as the permanent summer residence of Vilnius bishops until the end of 18th century.

Verkiai Palace became widely known after bishop Ignacy Jakub Massalski took over it in 1780. He hired two famous architects, Marcin Knackfus and Laurynas Gucevičius, to rebuild the palace in theNeoclassical style. The general plan and maintenance buildings were designed by Marcin Knackfus. The main palace building, the stables and several other buildings were designed by Gucevičius. The building was called 'the Versailles of Vilnius'. The palace had a little theatre, large library, and a small gun museum and was surrounded by a park.

The palace was severely damaged during the Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Eventually, the central building of the palace was pulled down on the order of a new owner, prince Ludwig Wittgenstein, who bought Verkiai in 1839. He also ordered restructuring the other buildings and the east wing office house assumed the role of the palace since the 1840s. It is attested that the first knownphotographs in present-day Lithuania were taken there in 1839, when Karol Podczaszyński made adaguerreotype of the palace which was intended to be rebuilt. The images have not survived.

After World War II, the remaining palace buildings were used as educational institutions and an art museum. Since 1960 the ensemble belongs to the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany. Verkiai Palace complex is an important cultural and historical landmark in Verkiai Regional Park.

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Founded: 1840s
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Lithuania

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sigitas Brazinskas (2 years ago)
Nature near the city. In addition, park, viewpoint, palace of several buildings, altar, stairs down to the watermill. Worth to see all it around and enjoy the view towards the river from the view point.
Vilma Valančiūnaitė (2 years ago)
Gorgous place especially in the autumn. Had a blast exploring the surrounding area and seeing the incredible scenery. Highly recomend coming here and taking all the beautiful nature. Will be coming back
Седой Седов (2 years ago)
Very nice and atmospheric place!
Laurynas (2 years ago)
Nice natural place and a good climb up top.
Denys Tsybulskyi (2 years ago)
Small but cosy park just outside the town
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.