The Presidential Palace (Prezidentūra) is the official office and eventual official residence of the President of Lithuania. The palace dates back to the 14th century and during its history it has undergone various reconstructions, supervised by prominent architects, including Laurynas Gucevičius and Vasily Stasov. In 1997 the palace became the official seat of the President of Lithuania.
The Palace traces its history back to the 14th century, when Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, issued an edict donating land in the city to the Vilnius Diocese, for this reason the palace is sometimes referred to as the Bishops' Palace. Construction of the Palace took place in the late 14th century under the auspices of the first Bishop of Vilnius Andrzej Jastrzębiec, and over succeeding generations, the building was gradually enlarged and renovated. During the Renaissance, the Palace was once again renovated, and parks and gardens surrounding the building were expanded.
As the 18th century unfolded, a number of dramatic events in the Palace's history took place: the last Bishop of Vilnius lived in the Palace, Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Empire, and the building itself was badly damaged by two major fires in 1737 and 1748. The Palace was reconstructed in 1750 under the supervision of the architect Laurynas Gucevičius. After its reconstruction, the Palace was used as a residence for emperors, kings and noblemen. During 1796, Tsar Paul I lived at the Palace. During the course of the 19th century, the Palace served as a residence for several Imperial Russian governors. It was also visited by the future King of France, Louis XVIII in 1804.
In 1812, both the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the French Emperor Napoleon used the Palace as their residence. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia, he organized military operations and Lithuanian army units from this Palace, including five regiments of infantry, four cavalry regiments, and the National Guard of Vilnius. After Napoleon's defeat in 1812, the Palace was used for ceremonial proposes. During 1824-1834, the Palace was reconstructed by the prominent St. Petersburg architect Vasily Stasov in the Empire style, under supervision of Karol Podczaszyński. Stasov's reconstruction of the Palace has remained to this day.
After Lithuania regained its independence in 1918, the Palace housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ELTA news agency until it ended up in Poland in 1920. It was restored in the 1930s by Stefan Narębski. After the Second World War, the Palace served as the Military Officers' Centre; later it housed various Lithuanian artists. The Palace was gradually adapted for use as a presidential office, and since 1997 it has served as the official office of the President of Lithuania. Currently, adaptations are underway to expand the palace's functions to also serve as the president's official residence. A flag displaying the coat of arms of the President is hoisted when the President is present in the Palace or in the city.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.