The reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the former political, diplomatic, cultural center of the State, was one of the most famous in Europe in the 15th-17th centures and was demolished in the beginning of the 19th century. This Palace is excellent located just in the heart of Vilnius, within the confines of Lower Castle. Nowadays the Gothic, Renaissance and Early Baroque halls of this multifunctional Museum are ideally applicable to organize a different size and content public events, official visits, conferences, meetings, seminars, concerts, performances, receptions and other.

Part of the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes in Vilnius Lower Castle officially transferred to the Museum. In the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania there are 4 exhibition tour routes directly related to the historical functions of this residence. The first tour will show the historical and architectural develop ment of the palace by highlighting the ancient ruins still in place, excavated artifacts and by using models and iconographic materials. The second tour route will bring the visitors into the ceremonial halls, which have been reconstructed in such a way as to show the evolution of architectural styles – from the late Gothic to the Renaissance to the early Baroque.

The third tour route will introduce arms, everyday life and music of the Palace. This route consists of three expositions and an event hall. Here you will find the fortifications of the castle and palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the collection of arms. Everyday life exposition reveals the living of the residents and the music culture at the Grand Duke Palace.

The fourth tour route in the museum’s modern national and international exhibition center is dedicated for significant national and international exhibitions.


The Vilnius Castle Museum was opened in 1960, and in 1968 it became a subdivision of the Lithuanian National Museum. The exposition of the Vilnius Castle Museum displays reconstruction models of Vilnius castles of the second part of the 14th and the beginning of the 17th centuries, armament, iconographic material of old Vilnius. An observation deck on the top of the tower is the best place from which to appreciate a magnificent panorama of Vilnius.

In 2003, a funicular railway started operating in Vilnius, which takes people from the foot of Gediminas Hill to the top. It takes 35 seconds for the funicular railway to cover a 71-meter long distance, and the entire ascending process, including getting on and off the funicular, takes about one minute. The train accommodates as many as 16 people at any one time. While going up you can see beautiful vistas of the city along with the River Neris. The railway is a great help to elderly people and parents with small children. It starts its journey up from the only closed yard of the National Museum, which you can access from the River Neris side.


The Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav is the most important place of worship for Lithuania’s Catholics, and the venue for the country’s main Christian and national festivities.

In 1922, the Cathedral was granted the title of ‘Basilica’, by Pope Pius XI.

Many key figures in Lithuanian history are buried in the Sovereigns’ Mausoleum, which is located beneath the chapel of St. Casimir. Its vaults contain the remains of Vytautas The Great, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, and King Alexander of Poland. The vaults are not only restricted to kings, either – the two wives of Žygimantas Augustas, Queen Elisabeth of Austria and Queen Barbora Radvilaitė. The cathedral containing the ashes of King Vladislovas Vaza (Wladyslaw Vasa) are also buried here.

The cathedral’s original temple dates back to between the 13th or 15th century.


The Gates of Dawn is one of the most visited shrines in Vilnius that is famous not only in Lithuania but also abroad, worshipped by the representatives of other creeds too. This is the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall that was built between 1503 and 1522.

The painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, in the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn is known all over the world. Many churches in other countries have copies of this painting. The picture, which is also called “Vilnius Madonna”, was painted in 17th century. It is painted in the Renaissance style, in tempera on oak boards, later repainted in oil. Since the middle of the 17th century it has been said to have miracle-working powers. The Holy Mother of God of the Gates of Dawn has been granted the title of Mother of Mercy twice.


The church of St Anne is a masterpiece of the late Gothic period. There is no nonsensus about its originator or its construction period. Popular legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte, who was fascinated by the beauty of the church, wanted to take it back to Paris in the palm of his hand. Unfortunately, the reality is not that romantic: during the march of the Napoleonic army through Lithuania, the church was consigned to the French cavalry forces. However, Napoleon did mention in a letter to his wife that „Vilnius is a very beautiful city“.

St Anne’s Church, which has survived to the present day without changing for over 500 years, has become a symbol of Vilnius. At a closer look, one can see the letters A and M in the main facade of St Anne‘s. The letters A and M could stand for the Latin Ana Mater Maria or Ave Maria, i.e. „Saint Anne – Mother of Mary“ or „Hail Mary“. Some experts claim that the Pillars of Gediminas have been highlighted in the composition of the facade with the three towers of the church corresponding to the three pillars.


One of the oldest universities in Central Europe, Vilnius University was founded in the 16th century while Europe – and of course Lithuania – was in the grips of the Protestant Reformation movement. Catholic monks, Jesuits, were called to stop the spread of the movement and were asked to take over education policy. In 1569 they established a college and just 10 years later, the University of Vilnius was born.

Afterwards, the campuses of VU were built and as a result, all feature Gothic, Baroque and Classical styles of architecture, and the main building’s medieval exterior is a stark contrast to its lively student atmosphere.

There are 13 internal courtyards, plus arcades and galleries, which give even more vibrancy to things. Moreover, the courtyards are named after famous figures – graduates and professors – from the university and they are commemorated on a number of plaques in the Grand Courtyard.


The old town of Trakai – which is extremely popular with the residents of Lithuania and foreign guests – is situated west of Vilnius between the hills, forests and lakes. The shores of the peninsula on which it is located are washed by the waters of Lakes Galvė, Totoriškių and Bernardinų (Lukos). This town, famous for its picturesque landscape and the legendary Trakai Castle, was a cradle of the Lithuanian statehood, an important military and political centre, headquarters of the Lithuanian Grand Dukes, and the capital of Lithuania. Today, Trakai attracts visitors to a wonderful place offering refuge from a hectic city life, with walks around the beautiful area or yacht trips on one of the numerous lakes.

Trakai is also known for the Karaimes (a people speaking the Turkic language), who have lived there since the 14th century and have preserved their traditions. The kenesa – a Karaime sanctuary – and houses of Karaimes have survived in Trakai, and the national dishes (the most popular is kybyn – a small pasty stuffed with minced meat) of this ethnic group can be tasted at the Karaime Restaurant.


The self-proclaimed “Republic” of Užupis is Vilnius’ Bohemian and artistic district. It has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches, the Bernadine Cemetery – one of the oldest in the city -, seven bridges, and its own guardian called The Bronze Angel of Užupis, who was put in the centre of the district in 2002.

Dating back to the 16th century, Užupis is one of Vilnius’ oldest districts and despite its current prestigious status, was formerly the city’s poorest area and home to a number of manual workers and a red light-district.

During the Soviet era, the authorities let Užupis go to ruin, and it quickly gained notoriety as the roughest districts in the city. Since Lithuania regained its independence in 1991, artists came and took advantage of the cheap accommodation, and moreover, the city’s art academy is located across the bridge from Bernadinų Gardens. Now its thriving creative community hosts regular fashion festivals, concerts, exhibitions and poetry evenings.


The Gallery is established in a beautiful and spacious estate of the noblemen Chodkiewicz noted for impressive interiors of late Classicism.

The permanent exposition of this Gallery offers a visitor the opportunity to become thoroughly and consistently acquainted with the development of Lithuanian art from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. It houses a collection of works by artists of Vilnius Art School.

Different exhibitions, evenings of culture, concerts of classical music are organised at the Gallery.


This is part of the Vilnius Defensive Wall, often called “barbican”. The Bastion is a Renaissance-style fortification characterised by its original construction. It consists of a tower installed in the city defence wall, underground gun ports and a connecting corridor, which turns into a 48-metre long tunnel. The Bastion was built in the first half of the 17th century by the German military engineer, Friedrich Getkant.

The Bastion was severely damaged during the wars with Moscow in the middle of the 17th century. During World Wars I and II, German military arsenals were located in the building. You can enjoy a picturesque view of the Old Town from the Bastion terrace.


Some say, that the origins of the three crosses date back to the 17th century when three monks placed them there to pay tribute to a group of fellow monks who were martyred in the 14th century. According to the history books, seven monks were killed and seven were tied to wooden crosses and floated down the Neris River, with the instruction to return to the west where they came from.

The monument has changed many times, and the current one was built by the architect and sculptor, A. Vivulskis in 1989 at the beginning of the Rebirth movement. It was built to replace the one that had been removed by the Soviet authorities in the 1950s, pieces of which still remain on the far side of the slope.

Over the years, the monument has changed many times. The current one was built by the architect and sculptor, K. Šilgalis in 1989, when the Soviet Union began to collapse.


The Vilnius Television Tower is the tallest building in Lithuania at 326.5 metres high, and is an immediately recognisable fixture on the cityscape.

Located in the in Vilnius’ Northeastern microdistrict of Karoliniškės, the Television Tower played host to the January Events; events that took place in January 1991 as Lithuania fought for its independence from the Soviet Union.

During the affair, 14 unarmed Lithuanian civilians were killed, while another 700 were injured as Soviet troops seized the tower. A small museum dedicated to them is on the ground floor and crosses in their memory are by the main entrance.

Today, visitors can go up to a revolving circular observation platform, which on clear days, provides spectacular views across the whole city as well as Elektrėnai – a city 25 miles west, which powered much of Vilnius’ electricity during the Soviet days.


St Peter and Paul’s Church is a masterpiece of the 17th-century. Baroque famous for its exceptional interior where one can see about 2,000 stucco figures.

Legend has it that there was a temple of the pagan goddess Milda on this site. Once there was a wooden church there, which was destroyed during the time of wars with Moscow.

The present Church was built by Hetman Mykolas Kazimieras Pacas who wanted to perpetuate Vilnius liberation from Russians. The Church acquired its present appearance in 1676, later it was adorned with stucco, frescoes. At the beginning of the 19th century its Rococo pulpit was made.


The streets from the west of Didžioji Street to Dominikonų and Vokiečių Streets were once the thriving heart of Jewish life in Vilnius from medieval times until the Holocaust. During the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, around 12,000 intellectual and unskilled members of the city’s Jewish community were segregated here in what was to become known as ‘the Small Jewish Ghetto’. It was liquidised by the Nazis in 1941.

Following the liquidation of the Little Ghetto, the Nazi authorities constructed the Big Ghetto, which was made up of the Lydos, Rūdninkų, Mėsinių, Ašmenos, Žemaitijos, Dysnos, Šiaulių, and Ligoninės Streets. Around 29,000 were imprisoned there, and they mostly massacred at Paneriai, some 12 kilometres outside of Vilnius.

The Big Ghetto existed from September 6, 1941 to September 23, 1943 when it was liquidated. Since Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1941, September 23 has since been declared The Day of Jewish Genocide in Lithuania.


In 1387, Lithuania became a Christian state and Vilnius was granted Magdeburg rights. Thus, there appeared a need for headquarters for the city authorities. As the main square of the city was located here, it was decided to build the Town Hall in the same place. The building housed the magistrate (in other words, the city councillors) as well as court rooms, the treasury, archives, an arms and ammunition warehouse, and rooms for preserving standards of measurement. A prison was established in the basement.

In the 20th century, an art museum was housed in the Town Hall. Today Vilnius Town Hall is a representative building. Many different events are organised at the Town Hall during a year: concerts, literary evenings, presentations of books, exhibitions and festivals. The pediment of the Town Hall is adorned with the coat-of-arms of the city of Vilnius – St Christopher carrying baby Jesus on his shoulders.


The Presidential Palace, called “Prezidentūra” (President’s Office) in everyday life, was built in the square of Simonas Daukantas (a graduate of Vilnius University and the author of the first history of Lithuania published in the Lithuanian language in the 19th century).

Whichever way you chose to approach Daukanto Square, a narrow street will suddenly broaden and blend into the square predominated by a Classical building from the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century: a former nobleman’s house and the present-day Office of the President. The grandeur of the square is somewhat allayed by the Baroque towers above the roof of the palace.

Here follows some information about the Presidential Palace. From the 16th century it served as a residence for Vilnius bishops. In the 18th century, when Lithuania was occupied and annexed to the Russian Empire, the palace served as a residence for the Governor General of Vilnius. Russian Tsar Alexander I, French King Louis XVIII, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and Polish Marshall and statesman Jozef Pilsudski visited the palace.


Pilies Street is the oldest and most flamboyant street in the Old Town of Vilnius. The street appeared in place of the former road from Vilnius Castle to the south, towards Poland and Russia. This was the main road to the castle, with its branches finally turning into side streets. The name of Pilies Street was mentioned in historical annals as early as 1530.

Kings, legates of the Pope, and envoys from other countries passed this street on their way to the castle. Noblemen and rich citizens built their houses in Pilies Street. Vilnius University occupied a whole quarter of the city beside Pilies Street, and university professors used to live there.

The Botanical Garden of Vilnius University was established in one of the courtyards at the end of the 18th century. Church processions also went along Pilies Street. The broadest parts of the street were occupied by markets: the so-called Great Market near the Town Hall and the fish market next to St. Paraskeva’s Church (Pyatnickaya).

The street is distinguished for its architectural variety: Pilies 12 and 14 are Gothic, Pilies 4 is a Renaissance building of an episcopate college; and the pediment of the Church St. John is Baroque.


The National Museum of Lithuania is the largest depository of Lithuanian historical cultural heritage in the country. It is the oldest museum in Lithuania, dating back to 1855, when the Museum of Antiquities was established in Vilnius. Authentic exhibits help to recall the history of Lithuania and its national culture and customs.

The authentic displays of the Museum represent the history of Lithuania, present traditional Lithuanian culture, and customs. The Old Arsenal is situated nearby. There is a funicular from the closed courtyard of this Museum to Gediminas Hill. A majestic monument to King Mindaugas stands next to the Museum. Mindaugas is the first, and the last, Lithuanian King. He was crowned in 1253. Mindaugas united Lithuania’s lands into a state and won international recognition of Lithuania.

The monument to King Mindaugas was unveiled in front of the Lithuanian National Museum on 6 July 2003 when the 750th anniversary of the coronation of Mindaugas was commemorated. Its author is sculptor Regimantas Midvikis. The footstall of the monument is surrounded by the symbols of the ancient Baltic calendar, which are found in old writings.


The Museum was founded in 1988. The exhibits on display at the Amber Museum-Gallery tell visitors about the morphology of amber. It is revealed in the exhibits of various sizes, forms and colour.

The unique collection of inclusions and the reconstruction of Juodkranė treasure are on display here. Visitors can also see the ceramics baking shop of the end of the 15th century found in the basement of the Museum, authentic earthenware.

Exhibitions of the works of artists working with amber are constantly held at the Gallery. One can also buy amber jewellery of modern and classical design here.


The Museum of Genocide Victims is arguably the darkest in Vilnius. Its bloody history began when this former gymnasium became the headquarters of the Gestapo during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania in 1941.

It was then re-occupied by the Soviet Secret Police – the KGB – when the Nazis left in 1944. The KGB stayed until 1991 when Lithuania became independent from the Soviet Union.

The museum is divided into two parts – the upper two floors document the Lithuanian partisans’ resistance against the Soviet occupiers, the deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia and day-to-day life in the LTSR. The other part of the museum are the prison cells, and execution and torture chambers in the basement.

Chillingly, the cells are exactly how the KGB officers left them upon leaving Lithuania in 1991.


Vilnius started developing faster in the middle of the 19th century, when the rail line St. Petersburg – Vilnius was built. New industrial, trading and residential developments were established next to the Old Town. A new central street of the city, Georgij Avenue was built. The names of the avenue changed with the change of authorities.

Later on the avenue had the names of A. Mickiewicz, Stalin, Lenin, and in 1989 it was known as Gediminas Avenue. Buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries were built next to the avenue, currently housing central government authorities and public institutions, trading and catering companies.

Gediminas Avenue connects the historical city center, Cathedral Square with the Seimas Palace.