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main destination guide sights gediminas castle


Gediminas Castle

    The history of the castle is closely connected with the formation of the city. According to the legend found in the Chronicle of Lithuania, the castle on the Castle Hill was founded by Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, who once had a prophetical dream. In his dream he saw an iron wolf standing on this place and howling like a hundred wolves. The pagan priest Lizdeika interpreted this dream as gods' will. Gediminas should build a castle and a city that would soon become famous and prosperous, and would be unassailable for enemies. According to other historical facts, in the 5-6th centuries there had already been large settlements on the banks of the Vilnia River and Gediminas chose this place for the construction of the new town because of its favorable geographical position. About 1230 the castle was built and soon the capital was moved from Trakai to the new town named after the Vilnia River.
    In the historical documents three Vilnius castles are mentioned: the Upper Castle (a fortress) and the Lower Castle (a residence of Grand Duke) were situated on the Gediminas Hill, the Crooked Castle was located on the present Hill of Three Crosses. The oldest of them is the Upper Castle, now called Gediminas Castle. The first wooden castle on this place was built in the early 13th century. After Grand Duke Gediminas proclaimed Vilnius the capital of Lithuania, the wooden castle was reinforced with brick walls. The current stone building was erected according to the order of Grand Duke Vytautas. The majestic stone castle, surrounded with ten feet thick defense wall with three towers and entrance gates, dominated the medieval town. The castle was severely damaged by Russian troops in the 17th century. By the beginning of the 20th century the castle had been practically ruined. But due to the restoration work started in 1930 one of the main city's landmarks has been preserved and now you can visit the Western (Gediminas) castle tower, ruins of defense wall, surrounding the palace and the castle.
    The construction of the Lower castle was started at the beginning of the 14th century. Since the middle of the 14th century it served as a residence of Grand Duke and his family. The castle was defended by a brick defensive wall with towers, one of which, rebuilt into a belfry, survived up to nowadays.
    Now the castle houses the museum of the history of Lithuania. It was founded in 1960 and is located in the best-preserved western tower of the Upper Castle. One of the exhibitions is dedicated to the history of the castle and displays archeological finds, models of Vilnius at various stages of its development and historical documents. From the top of the tower you can enjoy the marvelous panorama of Vilnius.

Address: Arsenalo St., 5
Phone: 370-5-2617453