Catacombs of the Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Photographer unknown. Excavations in Cathedral Square. 1939. Lithuanian National Museum of Art

Where was Gediminas sitting when he wrote the letters that later were put on church doors of European cities? Most probably inside the Lower Castle built during the reign of the Grand Dukes Vytenis and Gediminas – in the complex with defensive walls, towers and structures. In fact, the configuration of the castle changed over the centuries; therefore, only intertwined remains of the construction from various periods have survived to date. But you can see one of the oldest masonry structures in Lithuania dating to the 13-14th centuries – the Lower Castle can be seen in the foyer and exhibitions of the Palace of Grand Dukes. You can examine the masonry from the exterior approximately at the level of the 16th century surface of the ground.

There are many beautiful legends about the construction of the Lower Castle; historians say that when developing Vilnius, Gediminas wanted to build a strong castle that would be a secure stronghold. To this end, you had to sacrifice a maiden who would throw herself into a pit of foundations. But a miracle happened and while rolling a stone, the maiden survived and only a bouquet of flowers fell.

When looking at the preserved bricks, try to imagine what life was like among them.

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