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A fortified wooden settlement existed on the site of the Grand Dukes’ Palace 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 the15th 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 large 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, on the orders of the Tsarist administration, all except the eastern wing of the palace was torn down.

The idea that the palace could be reconstructed came alive again at the end of the 20th century with the movement for Lithuanian independence. Beginning in 1987, very detailed and complex archaeological excavations began, which became the basis for the reconstruction of the palace. During 2000 and 2001 laws were passed by the Lithuanian Parliament and approved by the Lithuanian Government concerning the reconstruction of the palace and its uses. The actual reconstruction work began in 2002 and still goes on.

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 reconstruction and refurbishment of the palace was to be finished and it was to be opened to the public in 2009, in time for the Millennium celebration. But because of financial and organizational problems, the historical residence was mostly reconstructed but not fully furnished and opened to the public. For this reason, the permanent exhibitions have not been installed yet nor the spaces for visitor services completed. In January, 2009, the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was designated a National Museum but, again, could not begin its museum functions – research, collecting, exhibits, education – in its new home...

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