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Vilnius - Lithuania heart

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Gediminas (Upper) castle

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Phone No.: +370 5 261 7453
Email: pilis@lnm.lt
Web Page:
Opening Hours: May - September: I-VII 10.00-19.00, October - April: I-VII 10.00-17.00
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The hill of Gediminas is a highest natural hill such kind in Lithuania. The Upper castle (now only Gediminas tower is left there) is a symbol of all Lithuania, and especially of the city of Vilnius. First time the castle was mentioned in Gediminas letters at 1323. This year is also regarded to be an official establishment of Vilnius city.

The castle was wooden at that time, only later it was built using bricks (exact date is unknown). Many times it was besieged by crusaders and allies, however not one time the castle was taken. The castle was ruined by a fire in 1419, but it was reconstructed by Vytautas. At that time Gediminas castle was zoned off by a 320 meter length stone wall with three defensive towers. Three-store gothic palace and a small church could be found in the middle of this paled zone, also there was a nobility prison during 1610-1613.

The castle was heavily damaged during the war with Moscow in 1655 – 1661 and was never reconstructed again. The hill became an integral part of Vilnius keep during the January Uprising. It was surrounded by trenches and mounds. Only the western tower among all survived until our days, exactly this tower is currently known as the Gediminas tower. The tower was heavily damaged, lost its upper stores. Temporarily there was a superstructure of an optical telegraph built instead of the third level. The superstructure was demolished only in 1930, and third tower level was rebuilt.

The tower was damaged again during the Second World War, and reconstructed already during the Cold War in 1956 – 1960. At that time a museum was opened and is still functioning till our days. Lithuanian tricolour flag was first raised in this tower at October 7th in 1988.

Gediminas tower is an octagonal building, its foundations were laid in stone, and walls built in gothic style with bricks. There is a beautiful viewpoint opening from the top of the tower, most of old town buildings can be seen from there – churches and beautiful sea of red roofs. The view stretches from a nearby Vilnelė and Neris river valleys to a new-town district in southern part of Vilnius. Some remains of a defensive wall can be seen nearby Gediminas tower – 10 meters south and 22 meters of it lies north of the tower. Also some remains of the northern gateway, and the lower part of southern tower can be seen on the hill. On the eastern side – there are some remains of a mansion-house. The palace was built with 4 meter thick walls and sharp gothic arcs. First floor that contained four rooms, survived quite well till our day, on a second wall there was a great hall that contained columns.

In 1995, after a reconstruction of Gediminas tower, a new exposition was opened up for visitors. This exposition can by seen today by anyone visiting Vilnius. It is located in all four floors of the tower. On the base floor, visitors can see an exposition of medieval cannon balls and also one original canon of that time. Also there is a memorial board, commemorating volunteer soldiers, who raised Lithuanian flag on top of the Gediminas tower for the first time on the 1st of January, 1919. Going further, there is an exposition of several exterior models, displaying Upper, Lower and the Curved castles on the first floor. On the same hall there is a display of photo artists, with pictures of Gediminas castle ruins and reconstruction works. Furthermore one more floor above – on the second floor, visitors can see an exhibition of 14th -18th centuries’ war equipment. The exhibition includes Lithuanian military weaponry, as well as some examples of knight armor – popular interior decoration in the nineteenth century. The third and the last hall is dedicated to The Baltic Way. There is an exposition of pictures, commemorating this event, moreover there is an original piece of Lithuanian flag that was flying on top of Gediminas tower on 11th of March, 1990. March 11.

One more thing worth to notice is that the beginning of the Baltic Way was in Vilnius, just outside the Gediminas tower. From here, a magnificent row of people stretched over three countries, ending at Hermann tower in Tallinn.


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