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Gediminas` Tower

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Placed on: 2006-11-13 16:11   Updated on: 2010-10-20 23:44   Comments: 0   Views from 2009-08-25: 0

Gediminas` Tower
2006-11-13 16:10

An octagonal brick turret marks the high ground where the Neris and Vilnele rivers meet in the heart of Vilnius. The original castle was built in the 1200`s, but was destroyed. The current building was erected at the direction of the Grand Duke Vytautas. The Duke`s castle ended up being used as a prison 200 years later, and even though its walls are ten feet thick, it was heavily damaged by Russian troops in the 17th century. The castle lay mostly ruined until the early 20th century, when restoration work began. Today it is one of the must-see destinations in Vilnius, not just because of its history, but because its height offers a wonderful view of the historic district.

The construction of Gediminas Castle is closely connected to the establishment of the city of Vilnius. The Castle in the form as it is seen in the pictures, was mostly established by the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas. Gediminas had chosen the banks of Vilnia river, as a place to construct a new town due to the favorable geographical position. Although there are signs that there had been settlements in the banks of Vilnia river already in the 5th and 6th centuries and most likely the first castle was build out of wood, around the year 1230.

After Vilnius was proclaimed as the capital of Lithuania, by the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas, the castle was reinforced with brick walls. In 14th and 15th century the castle was build all over again, by the order of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, this time using only bricks. That`s the castle that`s shown in the pictures. It`s walls were three meters thick and it had a three defensive towers.


Vilnius, Lithuania, Gediminas Castle

The castle however was badly damaged during the Russian occupation of the city in 1655 to 1660. After the occupation forces left, the castle along with the rest of the castles in Lithuania were mostly in ruins and never regained their former appearance and glory. The preservation effort however was started in 1930 and now the practically ruined castle has gained some of it`s past glory and shape and is open for people to visit.

However, much has been left as it is. The area contains ruins of the defensive walls that once protected the palace and castle. Only the castle tower is completely open for people to visit. Three castles are mentioned in the historical records: Upper Castle, Lower Castle and Crooked Castle. The oldest one of them is the Upper Castle or Gediminas Castle as it is now called.

The castle is located on a hill, like in nearly every old European cities. It was actually interesting to look at the model of the old city of Krakow and compare it to Vilnius and Tallinn. They all follow the similar construction pattern. Castle on a hill and the town spreading out near the hill. This is a very typical construction of cities in old European cities.

The remaining castle tower in Gediminas castle. It was open for people to climb up and look the city view from the tower, which most likely is a great one, as even from the hill, you could see very far. However, we decided not to go to the tower, as you would have to pay for it. The money and the amount of it, is not really the question here, but the fact that I believe that historical locations should be open to everyone, not just to those who can pay. I would think that not every Lithuanian can afford to pay to enter the tower and so, we rather watched the tower from`s not like we haven`t seen castle towers before and in any case, the worst hazard that you can encounter: Tourists, didn`t really raise our enthusiasm to pay, to enjoy company of tens of other people.


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