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.References:
First record of Kastelholma (or Kastelholm) castle is from the year 1388 in the contract of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, where a large portion of the inheritance of Bo Jonsson Grip was given to the queen. The heyday of the castle was in the 15th and 16th centuries when it was administrated by Danish and Swedish kings and stewards of the realms. Kastelhoma was expanded and enhanced several times.
In the end of 16th century castle was owned by the previous queen Catherine Jagellon (Stenbock), an enemy of the King of Sweden Eric XIV. King Eric conquered Kastelholma in 1599 and all defending officers were taken to Turku and executed. The castle was damaged under the siege and it took 30 years to renovate it.
In 1634 Åland was joined with the County of Åbo and Björneborg and Kastelholma lost its administrative status.