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The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University

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Phone No.: +370 5 219 3029
Email: info@muziejus.vu.lt
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Opening Hours: I-VI: 09.00-18.00
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The Courtyard is surrounded by the buildings of different epochs, united into one ensemble by the baroque space. The northern and eastern blocks, built in the 16th century, were of the oldest in Vilnius Academy. The St Johns Church was started in the 15th century, and then in the 17th century the bell-tower was built. The Grand Courtyard was finally formed in the middle of the 18th century when the southern block and the aula were built. The Grand Courtyard hasn’t changed since then.

It is known how the Courtyard looked like before the construction works of the Vilnius Academy. A two-storey lavishly decorated parsonage stood to the north of the Church, and there was a parish school nearby. The western side was occupied by the household buildings of the M. Jasinskis, King’s secretary, possession (hired estate), and the garden of the St Johns’ Dean.

Bishop Valerijonas Protasevicius and the St Johns’ Church passed the parsonage and the parish school buildings to the Jesuits in 1571. A two-storey block with auditoriums was built instead of these buildings.

In 1579 Stephen Bathory visited the University, the construction works are finished, and the memorial plaque with the encryption “Akademia et Universitetas Societatis Jusu Erecta anno 1580”, remaining up till nowadays, is unveiled.

After the fire in 1610 the University had to be reconstructed; open galleries were built in the northern block (on both floors) and in the western (on the first level only).

A grand opening ceremony of the new aula in the Academy was held on the 11th of June, 1762. It is thought that the author of the aula design was J.K. Glaubicas.

The face of the Grand Courtyard was changed after the fires in 1737 and 1749: the third floor was built on top of the northern and western blocks, and a new baroque façade was designed to the St Johns’ Church. The façade of the Church gained late baroque features only in the middle of the 18th century (architect J.K. Glaubicas).

A bell-tower, which is the highest building in the Vilnius’s Old Town, is located in the territory of the Grand Courtyard, and was recently renovated. The founders, funders, and famous scientists are perpetuated in the galleries of the Grand Courtyard. There is a fresco with the University’s coat of arms; the 16th century signboard “Academia et Universitas Societatis Jesu” can be seen in the northern block. There is an inscription “Alma Mater Vilnensis” over the façade of the Aula.

Events in the Grand Courtyard: on December 6th, 2009, one of the most important and the most meaningful National Progress Awards’ ceremony was held. Youth, Culture, and Science Progress Prize laureates were awarded.

Annually a festival of the beginning of the study year is organized in the Courtyard. The most impressive part of the festival is the students and lecturers’ parade in the Gediminas Avenue, which begins near Seimas, and finishes with the entrance to the Grand Courtyard.

The concerts of the “Christopher Summer Festival 2007” were organized here as well. This event was announced the best event of the Capital in 2005, and was awarded with the Vilnius City’s prize. Worldwide known and the most famous Lithuanian performers take part in the festival.

On April 29th, 2012, a concert of the folk art ensembles was held. The participants were: Lithuanian folk dance group of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University “Vingis”, song and dance ensemble of Vilnius University, youth and folk dance ensemble of Vilnius Technology and Design College, song and dance ensemble of Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences “Sviesa”, folk dance group of Vilnius Culture Centre “Vaiva”, folk music group of Vilnius University “Jaunimelis”, dance ensemble of Vilnius College “Voruta”, and folk dance ensemble of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Vilnius Crew Officers’ Club “Neris”.

The Grand Courtyard is one of the favorites among the tourists. The place attracts with its rich history, interesting architecture, and remarkable cultural events.


The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University St. Johns Church Vilnius University Bell Tower Vilnius University Bell Tower


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