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From now on, the new place to meet in Vilnius will be "at the metre"

The National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania shall from now on remind us of one more unique story with the unveiling of a bas-relief by sculptor Martynas Gaubas dedicated to Tito Livio Burattini (1617–1681) who authored the term for a unit of length – the metre. Member of the Vilnius Old Town Rotary Club and one of the initiators of the memorialisation of this story, Antanas Zabulis, says that a new place to meet has just been created in Vilnius – from now on, people will be able to say, “meet you at the metre”. The bas-relief is a gift from the Vilnius Old Town Rotary Club to Vilnius, to mark its approaching 700th anniversary.
 
“The term "metre" is known around the world today, yet few know that it was born right here, in Vilnius. This is a fact we can be proud of, and which the world must be reminded of. That’s how the idea arose to memorialise it. I don’t think there’s a monument dedicated to the metre anywhere else in the world, but from now on, it will be in Vilnius”, said historian and programme host Virginijus Savukynas, the author of this idea.
 
The Italian-born physicist, mathematician, geographer, Egyptologist, architect, inventor, diplomat and financialist Tito Livio Burattini, who lived and worked in Vilnius in the 17th century, described his newly proposed unit of length in a book published in Vilnius in 1675, Misura universale. It contains the first ever mention of the term "metre" as a unit of length. The author suggested calling the universal unit of length the metro cattolico. This implied it was to be used in all Catholic countries.
 
“In the 17th century, Vilnius and the Palace of the Grand Dukes that stood in Lithuania’s capital acted as the site for several distinct phenomena of European culture. We are by now warming to the fact that the first operas were staged here earlier than they were in London or Paris. We know that masters who built St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican also worked here. And this time, the friend of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, insightful historian and talented publicist Virginijus Savukynas has discovered another fact of global significance. From now, the world deserves to know that the idea for our contemporary metre was born in Vilnius in the second half of the 17th century, a city only recently ravaged by the Muscovite deluge and gradually recovering. This fact will be brought to everyone’s attention by the excellent bas-relief gifted by the Vilnius Old Town Rotary Club, created by artist Martynas Gaubas. The sculptural composition will adorn the wall of the Palace of the Grand Dukes and become an important marker in this cosy square. On behalf of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, residents of Vilnius and guests to the city, we sincerely thank the author of the idea, the generous sponsors and the sculptor for such a meaningful and impressive gift, adding significance to the 700th anniversary of the city of Vilnius”, exclaimed Dr Vydas Dolinskas, the museum’s director.
 
Burattini settled in Vilnius in 1665. He was placed in charge of the Vilnius coin mint, as well as similar facilities in Brest-Litovsk, Krakow and Ujazdów. During the reign of the ruler of Poland and Lithuania John Casimir Vasa (1648–1668), following the wars of the mid-17th century, the Lithuanian coin mint was reopened and operated in the territory of the plundered Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Copper shillings (called “boratinka”), along with silver and gold coins, were minted here in 1664–1666. Archaeological excavation work near this location, at the south end of the Second Servants’ Quarters of the Palace of the Grand Dukes, revealed the building foundations of the Mint that had been under the supervision of Burattini, along with two thousand copper shillings, their blanks and cut-offs. The bas-relief honouring the creator of the metre will be unveiled right near the spot where the mint operated 350 years ago.
 
Burattini was a famous inventor in his day, a real Leonardo da Vinci of the north. He also constructed a model of a flying machine, which he called the Flying Dragon. He was interested in astronomy and optics and had established a lens-polishing workshop where he also created telescopes. Burattini was involved in the construction or renovation of the royal Kazimierz Palace and the Ujazdów residence in Warsaw, and installed a bridge across the Vistula River. The Italian also created a calculating device, which he gifted to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo de’ Medici.
 
 

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If you are planning to visit the Palace of the Grand Dukes, please note that on Easter (March 31st – April 1st) the museum will be closed. More information about working hours and ticket prices you can find here. 

This year on the 10th of April in the National museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania preparations for the state representative event will take place. Therefore, on this day, visitors will not be able to enter some of the rooms on the ground floor of Route I, while the exhibition of the restored historical interiors on Route II will offer the exhibition of Giovanni Bellini's painting "Madonna and Child", the Baroque Ruler's Library, and the Ruler's private apartments and the Treasury. To add, You won't be able to visit the Observation Tower either. Routes III and IV and their exhibitions will be accessible as normal.

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Published:: 2022-06-08 10:07 Modified: 2023-08-22 10:10
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