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Cathedral Square

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Placed on: 2006-11-17 13:51   Updated on: 2010-10-20 23:45   Comments: 0   Views from 2009-08-25: 0

Cathedral Square
2006-11-17 13:49

The Cathedral Square is one of the first places in Vilnius to be mentioned in written sources. In old chronicles and legends it was called the Valley of Šventaragis. In the 13th century there stood the Lower Castle consisting of the administrative and defence centre, arsenal and religious institutions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By the way, the lower part of the tower standing now in Cathedral Square is the former gothic defence tower and the River Vilnelė used to flow behind it as the boundary of the castle’s fortification.
Vilnius, Cathedral Square

From the end of the 14th century, after Lithuania was finally reverted to Christianity, this western part of the foot of the hill belonged to the bishop of Vilnius. It is here where the Cathedral, Palace of Bishops, Episcopal House were located and some distance off stood the Palace of the Supreme Tribunal. The Lower Castle slowly evolved into the fortified management centre, the headquarters of the grand dukes.

During the war with Russia, the palace was partially destroyed and began to ruin and soon ceased to be the residence of the rulers. After the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was annexed to the tsarist Russia, this historical relic was standing until 1795 as the ruins of the national dignity and former majesty. But the tsarist officials did their best to pull down them as soon as possible.

During the universal uprising of 1831, the fortress of the second category was equipped on the territory of the castles. It covered the whole horizon, some part of the nearby Botanical Garden, now Sereikiškių Park, extended over the River Neris and some fortifications were made on the other bank of the Neris in front of the Vilnelė mouth. The demolished buildings allow us to see what parts of the Lower Castle remained until that time. Since an open firing field had to be placed beyond the military fortifications, all nearby buildings were pulled down. Among them were some masonry residential houses and small shops as well as the old Palace of Bishops donated under the privilege of Jogaila in 1387, three-story brickwork Pilies Gate that was a depository of the archive of the Supreme Tribunal of Lithuania and the office of the castle’s court, some time later the Royal Mill at the bend of the River Vilnelė, etc. The square that was formed south to the Cathedral was paved with stones, widened to the area close to its current territory. Various markets and the famous St. Casimir fairs were held here. And up to the present the Cathedral Square is the axis of the public and spiritual life of the city.


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Vilnius, Cathedral Square
Vilnius, Cathedral Square

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