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A fortified wooden settlement existed on the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania site from the 4th to the 8th centuries. During the 13th and 14th centuries, it was converted into a well-fortified castle with brick walls. At the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries, the Gothic-style castle of the Middle Ages was transformed into a luxurious Renaissance-style residence. During the 17th century, the palace was reconstructed in the early Baroque style, and the rulers of Lithuania and Poland who lived there amassed extensive collections of famous artworks and disseminated new cultural ideas throughout the country. The political fates of not only Lithuania but also of all Central, Eastern, and Northern European countries were decided there. During the mid-17th century war with Moscow, the palace was devastated, never rebuilt, and never again a residence for rulers. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, all except the palace's eastern wing was torn down on the orders of the Tsarist administration.

Sporadic research has been conducted in the territory of the Vilnius castles since the beginning of the 20th century. The idea of restoring the Renaissance palace in which the national art gallery would be housed emerged as early as 1983. In 1987, the burgeoning movement to liberate Lithuania from the Soviet empire was accompanied by a systematic study of the palace grounds, which became the basis for the reconstruction of the palace.

6 July 2018, the Coronation Day of Lithuanian King Mindaugas, marked the end of the reconstruction of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Since that day, all the museum's spaces have been open to visitors.

Important dates

The reconstruction of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania is one of the most important projects of Lithuania’s Millennium programme. This reconstructed historical residence in the heart of Lithuania’s capital should once again become the traditional symbol of Lithuania’s longlived statehood and an object of national pride. It should become a center for civic education, historical consciousness-raising and appreciation of material culture, for state ceremonial events and tourist information. It will also be an important part of Lithuania’s museum complex. The reconstruction of the palace in Vilnius...

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Historical Outline

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was the centuries-old heart of the political and cultural life of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – a multiethnic and multicultural state, while its destruction served as a painful example of the rewriting of history carried out by the occupying power of tsarist Russia. The reconstruction of the palace after the restoration of independence became one of the most significant projects of reclaiming historical memory and heritage in Lithuania.

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