Pharmacy on Pilies Street

Cruet set. Kėdainiai Regional Museum

What did people do when they fell ill in the Middle Ages? Before pharmacies existed, only a doctor could help. The first pharmacies opened their doors in the 16th century. In Lithuania, the first pharmacy was set up by Aleksandras Balinskis in Vilnius in 1506, but no knowledge of its location has been preserved. Meanwhile, the other pharmacist who arrived at the invitation of Bona Sforza was Franciscus Radicibus. He opened a pharmacy on Pilies Street that was popular among the nobility and highborn city dwellers.

In fact, only a handful of people went to the pharmacy to buy medicine. The then pharmacies are reminiscent of a magician’s world: you could buy dried animals, venom and even some powder of mummies. Pharmacies also offered exotic and luxurious food products, soap, perfume, brandy, liqueur and even gems. Today, it would be quite unusual to go to a pharmacy for some sugar or rice, but these valuable goods could only be found at the pharmacy in the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Pharmacists also prepared pastilles, sugar candies and marzipan, which were highly regarded by Bona Sforza.

Pilies g.
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