Castles in 15th-Century Vilnius

Vilnius. The years of Vytautas and Jogaila. ©UAB Metalo forma

Who lived in the Lower and Upper Castles and what did they do? Rulers lived in the territory of the castles as well as the manor. However, it was not only a residential place for rulers; foreign envoys were received and the chancellery of the Grand Duke was also established there.

The Upper Castle is mentioned in the travel diaries of the French diplomat Guillevert de Lannoy. He wrote that he saw a castle fortified with stones, soil and masonry on a high sandy hill. In fact, in the 16th century, the masonry of the Upper Castle was already dilapidated while the Upper Castle was in its heyday. It was surrounded by a defensive wall and the guarded territory was bursting with life – wooden housing was constructed along narrow streets and masonry buildings belonged to wealthy city dwellers.

Today you can see one more component of the Lower and Upper Castles ensemble that has survived the centuries – the current Cathedral Bell Tower, which was once part of the defensive wall in the 13-14th centuries and ultimately transformed into a bell tower in the 16th century. Go inside to see what the first floor of the old tower looked like.

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