Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was built originally in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Royal Palace in the Lower Castle evolved over the years and prospered during the 16th and mid-17th centuries. For four centuries the palace was the political, administrative and cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Soon after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was incorporated into Tsarist Russia, Tsarist officials ordered the demolition of the remaining sections of the Royal Palace. The Palace was almost completely demolished in 1801, the bricks and stones were sold, and the site was bowered. Only a small portion of the walls up to the second floor survived, that were sold to a Jewish merchant Abraham Schlossberg around 1800 who incorporated them into his residential house. After the 1831 uprising, the czarist government expelled Schlossberg and took over the building as it was building a fortress beside it. Before the Second World War it was the office of the Lithuanian Army, during the World War II it was the office of the German Army, and after World War II it was used by Soviet security structures and later transformed into the Palace of Pioneers. Fragments of Schlossberg's house have become part of the Eastern Wing of the restored Royal Palace.

A new palace has been under construction since 2002 on the site of the original building. The Royal Palace was officially opened during the celebration of the millennium of the name of Lithuania in 2009.



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Founded: 19th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Lithuania


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Marissa Horst (27 days ago)
Wow. I have never been to a museum that provides such a detailed, rich and comprehensive reproduction of the history of its city/country. We love history, and we LOVED this museum. It was fantastic. The museum has 4 different routes. Route 1 is by far the longest, and provides a history of the foundation of Vilnius/Lithuania and how it's intertwined with neighbouring countries. It also shows a reconstruction of the architecture of the palace and building around it. This route can take between 2-3 hours, depending on how much you read. The other three routes are a lot shorter: Route 2 shows reconstructions of historical rooms within the palace, Route 3 shows what everyday life was like in the palace and Route 4 shows temporary exhibitions. Which route to take is personal preference. You can do all 4 in an afternoon, but if you're interested in the history of Lithuania then Route 1 is more than enough. It is possible to get separate tickets for the individual routes. We went as a couple, but we saw families with kids as well.
Arturas Chmelenko (2 months ago)
If you visiting Lithuania and you are interested in history then you should buy a ticket to visit all 4 routes, but if you are not that into history then book just 1 or 2 routes. Be prepared to read a lot as it has loads of interesting information
Bill Dosis (3 months ago)
Huge attraction. The expeditions 1 and 2 are bigger and more interesting that that expeditions 3-4 and you need much more time to see them (we recommend to get the audio guide for 1 euro as the sound is very clean). You can pass through expeditions 3 and 4 faster if you are already exhausted from the first two. Have in mind that you can get a ticket for specific expeditions if you don't want to pay for all of them.
Saulius Zilis (4 months ago)
The history here is absolutely wonderful and extensive. We hired an English speaking tour guide and she was one of the curators of the exhibits and gave us such a wonderful explanation of the different exhibits. Lots of information that wasn't on the placards as well as some fun trivia about Vilnius and Lithuanian history. Very wheelchair friendly as well.
CL Huang (5 months ago)
The palace of the Grand Dukes is a very beautiful reconstructed palace. Highly recommended to spend the whole afternoon (at least 4 hours) to enjoy the exhibition. Please do rent the 1€ audio guide, they explain the architecture, history, how people live in the past and even some related background stories, totally worth every penny! The employees were all friendly. It was an very awesome experience.
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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.