Rewritten from Wikipedia and other sources.
Historically the castles which dot the landscape of Lithuania remind us of Lithuania’s heraldic past.
They fit in with much of the tradition of Europe. Many people including myself find ourselves drawn to the more southern castles in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Conservation efforts in Lithuania help draw us back to Lithuania, its architecture, and its distinctive, glorious heraldic bearings of people and families.
As elsewhere the residences of the dukes in the Middle Ages were built of wood or brick [14th century on] and were/are of various shapes, sizes, styles and architectures. All the cities in Lithuania houses a large number of castles.
I am now drawn to these castles because of the 16th century Siesikai Castle where my Grandfather and his siblings investigated. Even though it is not quite ready for viewing by the general public, I was able to walk around it and imagine the past- the music, the activity, as I have been able to do in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I feel many of the LT castles are on a par.
1. Baltadvaris Castle Construction date 16th century
Location Baltadvaris Videniškiai, Molėtai district, Lithuania
Coordinates: 55.225°N 25.241°E
Current state Ruins- the foundations and parts of some walls have survived, Demolished late 17th century – 20th century
Baltadvaris Castle (Lithuanian: Baltadvario pilis) was a fortified manor house, earlier sometimes classed as a bastion castle. The masonry castle with wooden fortifications was constructed by Swedish fortifications in the 16th century, in a bend of the River Siesartis, in order to secure the road from Vilnius to Riga against attacks from Livonia. It used to be the property of the princely Giedraičiai (Giedroyć) family [duke Giedrius, a brother of Narimantas and Grand Duke of Lithuania Traidenis.] The neglected castle and fortifications gradually fell into ruins. Today only the foundations remain as well as parts of the walls and of the castle gates, together with several cellars. The castle is probably dating back to the time of Mindaugas.
2. Biržai Castle Birże Radziwiłł Castle Construction dat e 1586
Coordinates: 56.20°N 24.75°E
Current state Partially rebuilt
Biržai Castle is a renaissance building/castle in Biržai, Lithuania. Construction of the earth bastion-type castle started in 1586 by the order of Krzysztof Mikołaj “the Lightning” Radziwiłł. In 1575, preparing for this construction, a dam was built on the Agluona and Apaščia rivers at their confluence, and the artificial Lake Širvėna, covering about 40 km², was created, the oldest Lithuanian pond. Major castle building works were finished in 1589. In the castle there is also a history museum established.
3. Dubingiai Castle Construction date 1412–1413
Coordinates: 55.060°N 25.442°E
Current state Ruins, the foundations have survived, demolished late 17th century – early 20th century
Dubingiai Castle was a residential castle in Dubingiai, Molėtai district,Lithuania.
The first masonry castle was constructed by Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, in 1412-1413 on an island, now a peninsula, in Lake Asveja in order to secure the capital Vilnius from attacks from Livonia. No accounts concerning the architecture of Vytautas’ castle have survived. It was acquired by Jerzy Radziwiłł prior to 1508. He constructed a new palace in the Renaissance style in the first half of the 16th century. After the death of Jerzy, his son Mikolaj “the Red” inherited the property, causing the town nearby to become a important hub for the Reformation in Lithuania. Barbara Radziwiłł spent five months in the castle after her marriage to Sigismund Augustus in 1547. The palace used to be one of the most luxurious residences in the Duchy, lagging not much behind the Royal Palace. Dubingiai Castle was the main seat of the Biržai-Dubingiai line of the Radziwiłł family until the second half of the 17th century, when it was transferred to Biržai Castle.
During the Polish–Swedish wars, the castle was pillaged by armies loyal to the King of Poland and was confiscated from Bogusław Radziwiłł. It returned to the family in the second half of the 17th century. The neglected castle and church gradually fell into ruins. It was sold to Michał Tyszkiewicz in 1808. Today only the foundations and severalcellars of the castle and church remain and are being researched.
The masonry Calvinist Church of the Holy Spirit was built in the Renaissance style near the castle by Janusz Radziwiłł prior to 1620 and was intended to be the mausoleum of the Radziwiłł family. The most prominent members of the family were interred there, including Mikołaj “the Black” Radziwiłł (1565) and his wife Elżbieta Szydłowiecka (1562), Mikołaj “the Red” Radziwiłł (1584) and Janusz Radziwiłł (1620). Their remains were discovered during archaeological excavations in 2004 and reburied there in 2009.
4. Eišiškės Castle Construction date 15th century
Coordinates: 54°10′N 25°00′E
Current state Ruins
Eišiškės is mentioned for the first time in the Treaty of Königsberg [Poland] (1384) between Vytautas the Great and the Teutonic Knights. East of the town there is a castle site, dating back from the 14th–15th centuries. Protected by the castle and boasting a church built by Vytautas, the town became one of the important trading centers in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
5. Kaunas Castle Construction datemid-14th century
Coordinates: 54.899°N 23.885°E
Current state Partially rebuilt- At the beginning of the 21st century, about one-third of the castle was still standing.
Kaunas Castle is situated on the banks of rivers Neris and Nemunas. Kaunas Castle is a bit mysterious to archaeologists, as many facts about it remain unknown, but it’s believed, that Kaunas Castle was built in XIV century.
Archeological evidence suggests that it was originally built during the mid-14th century, in the Gothic style. Its site is strategic – a rise on the banks of the Nemunas River near its confluence with the Neris River.
6. Klaipėda Castle Construction date 13th century
Coordinates: 55°42′20″N 21°07′44″E
Current state Ruins
Klaipėda castle is an implemented vision of some enthusiasts in Klaipėda. The old castle was successfully returned into nice museum full of interesting exhibits and past atmosphere.
Klaipėda Castle, also known as Memelburg or Memel Castle, is an archeological site and museum housed in a castle built by the Teutonic Knights in Klaipėda, Lithuania, near the Baltic Sea. The Teutons called the castle Memelburg or Memel, and Klaipėda was generally known as Memel until 1923, when Lithuanian military forces took over the city. The castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1252, and underwent numerous destructions and reconstructions in the centuries that followed. During the 19th century, having lost its strategic importance, the castle was demolished. Archeological work was performed at the site during the 20th century, and in 2002 a museum was established underneath one of its bastions.
7. Medininkai Castle Construction date 13th- 14th centuries
Coordinates: 54°32′20″N 25°39′00″E
Current state Partially rebuilt
Medininkai castle is an outstanding monument of Lithuanian history. The castle is not explored yet thus it has many unrevealed secrets that attract hundreds of visitors.
Medininkai Castle (Lithuanian: Medininkų pilis), a medieval castle in Vilnius district, Lithuania, was built in the late 13th century or the first quarter of the 14th century. The defensive perimeter of the castle was 6.5 hectares; it is the largest enclosure type castle in Lithuania.
The castle was built on plain ground and was designed for flank defence. The rectangular castle’s yard covered approximately 1.8 hectares and was protected by walls 15 metres high and 2 metres thick. The castle had 4 gates and towers. The main tower (donjon), about 30 metres high, was used for residential quarters. Medininkai was first mentioned in 1392. The castle was badly damaged by a major fire in the late 15th century. Because of increased use of firearms, this type of castle was no longer suited for defensive purposes and was later used as a residence. During the 17th – 18th centuries it was reorganized into a farm and a bakery.
8. Norviliškės Castle Construction date 16th century
Coordinates: 54°14′11″N 25°46′54″E
Current state Rebuilt
Norviliškės Castle (a former monastery, also called Norviliškės Manor) is a Renaissance style castle in Norviliškės, Lithuania. The Norviliškės Castle is first mentioned in 1586. In 1617 the owners donated part of the real estate land to Franciscans. Around 1745 they built a monastery and a church in Renaissance style. The monastery was reconstructed at the end of the 18th century by Kazimieras Kaminskis. After the November Uprising of 1831, Russian authorities closed the monastery and turned it into barracks for soldiers, and later to a boarding school for girls. The Church of St. Mary Compassionate Mother was closed at the same time as the monastery. A new wooden church was built in 1929.
For a long time the former manor stood abandoned. In 2005, reconstruction was started by an entrepreneur, Giedrius Klimkevičius, from Vilnius. The project is supported by funds from the PHARE program. The hopes are that the Norviliškės Castle will become a tourist attraction. It offers hosting for business conferences or weddings, hunting, shooting practices, and other activities, including music festivals.
9. Panemunė Castle Construction date 17th century
Coordinates 55.099°N 22.986°E
Current state recently restored
Panemunė castle is located on Nemunas river shore in surroundings of hilly relief and old park. It is one of the most visited sights in Jurbarkas district. Panemunė Castle is a castle on the right bank of the Nemunas river, in Vytėnai, Jurbarkas district, Lithuania. The initial hillfort of the Teutonic Knights (erected 1343) was replaced by a castle built in 1604-1610 and reconstructed around 1759 by Giełgud family. Remaining wings of the castle have been recently restored.
10. Raudondvaris Castle Construction date 17th century
Coordinates: 54°56′35″N 23°47′00″E
Current state rebuilt
Type: Gothic-Renaissance now- Gothic Revival
Raudondvaris Castle (Lithuanian: Raudondvario pilis, literally “Red Manor”), also referred to as Raudondvaris Manor, is a Gothic-Renaissance gentry residence, located in the eponymous town of Raudondvaris, Lithuania.
First mentioned as a pagan keep by Teutonic chroniclers in 1392. When Samogitia was handed over to the Order, the Teutons built a small castle of Koenigsburg on this spot, housing 80 knights and 400 soldiers. The castle was further strengthened and enlarged following the Battle of Grunwald. Since then it was the personal property of kings of Polanduntil 1549, when Sigismund II Augustus donated it (along with the surrounding town) to his wife, queen-consort Barbara Radziwiłł. Following her death the red brick-built manor (which gave its’ name to the surrounding village of Czerwony Dwór, modern Raudondvaris) fell into disuse and was sold to Gintowt-Dziewałtowski family, who sold it back to the mighty Radziwiłł family soon afterwards.
Between 1653 and 1664 Prince Janusz Radziwiłł ordered its’ reconstruction and refurbishment, which gave it its’ current form. Following his demise, the manor passed from one noble family to another, first the Worłowski, then given to Zabiełło family and finally in 1820s it was purchased by Benedykt Tyszkiewicz. After the November Uprising in 1831, the castle was devastated by the Russian army, however, it was rebuilt soon afterwards. The 1832-1855 renovation gave it the Gothic Revival shape, though some traces of earlier Renaissance and Gothic elements are still visible (particularly the round tower that is thought to be part of the original Teutonic stronghold). Around that time the manor was surrounded with a large English-style garden, with a large orangery housing lemon trees. In 1835 a wooden chapel was replaced with a permanent church designed by an Italian expatriate Wawrzyniec Cezary Anichini (who later died in the Red Manor and was buried near the chapel he designed). Between 1856 and 1860 the estate was slightly extended, with many more buildings designed by a German architect by the name of Voler. Those included a new orangery, stables, ice house and offices.
Tyszkiewicz family held the property until World War I. The manor was known to house that family’s extensive art collection including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Caravaggio and Jan Matejko. After the war the manor was confiscated by Lithuanian authorities. The estate was divided onto individual plots, while the manor itself housed a school and then an orphanage.
The manor was badly damaged during World War II, but was rebuilt between 1962-1975. Currently it houses the Lithuanian Institute of Melioration (Lietuvos žemes úkio inžinierijos institutas), as well as a small museum devoted to both the Tyszkiewicz family and Lithuanian composer Juozas Naujalis born in the nearby village.
11. Raudonė Castle Construction date 16th century
Coordinates: 55°05′48″N 23°07′50″E
Raudonė castle is one of the main objects that Jurbarkas district is mostly proud of. Located in beautiful surroundings, the castle welcomes everyone looking for a nice shelter to relax.
Raudonė Castle is in Raudonė, Lithuania. Castle construction works started in late 16th century. In the 16th century the castle belonged to King Sigismund II August. A new renaissance castle was built on the ruins of the old one by a German knight, Krispin de Kirschenstein. The castle has since been rebuilt many times. The 18th century Polish owners of the Raudone estate, the family Olędzki (Olendzki) h. Rawicz (members of szlachta, general sejm and senate) commissioned Wawrzyniec Gucewicz with a renovation of the castle. The next owner, the Russian Prince Platon Zubov, acquired the estate in the first half of the 19th century and his family transformed the castle yet again. Their architect was Cesare Anichini. Today the building is an example of 19th century neo-Gothic architecture. Its last private owners were Sofia Vaksel (a Zubov) and her Madeirian husband, José Carlos de Faria e Castro.
The original castle is the setting of an East Prussian legend known as “The White Maiden of the Bayersburg”.
12. Rokantiškės Castle Construction date 16th century
Location Naujoji Vilnia
Coordinates: 54.690°N 25.391°E
Current state Ruins
Rokantiškės Castle (Lithuanian: Rokantiškių pilis) ruins are in Naujoji Vilnia elderate of Vilnius, Lithuania.
The castle was located east of Vilnius on a high hill near the Vilnia River. First castle was built in 12th century. In 16th century, it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and has been the seat of the Olshanski family. Alexander Olshanski, Yuri Olshanski and the last family member Pawel Olshanski have lived there. After his death the castle was inherited by Bona Sforza and later passed to the Pac family. The Deputy Chancellor of Lithuania Stefan Pac was visited here by the King of Poland and Grand duke of Lithuania Władysław IV Vasa on July 15, 1636.
The castle was burnt down by Cossacks on August 7, 1655 during the Russo-Polish War and fell in ruins. Today there are the only visible medieval castle ruins in Vilnius.
13. Siesikai Castle (Daugailiai) Construction date 16th century
Coordinates: 55°17′12″N 24°30′49″E
Current state Rebuilt
Siesikai Castle is the residential castle near Siesikai, Ukmergė district, Lithuania. The castle on the Siesikai Lake was built by Gabrielius Daumantas-Siesickis in the 16th century in the Renaissance style. His heirs were known as Daumantai, also called Siesicki, had given their family name to the nearby town. The masonry palace was reconstructed in the Neoclassical style after 1820 by Dominik Dowgiałło. Only 2 towers remain from the former castle, which had four of them in every corner of the palace. The castle has been undergoing restoration since 1990.
14. Senieji Trakai Castle Construction date 14th century
Location Senieji Trakai
Coordinates: 54°36′18″N 24°59′03″E
Current state Ruins
Senieji Trakai Castle was a castle in Senieji Trakai (literally: Old Trakai) in Lithuania.
The first enclosure type brick castle was built by Grand Duke Gediminas, who transferred the capital of Lithuania from Kernavė to Trakai (today’s Senieji Trakai) before 1321. The weddings of Kęstutis and Birutė were held there and it was a birthplace of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas in 1350.
The castle in Senieji Trakai was destroyed by the Teutonic Order in 1391, was subsequently abandoned and never rebuilt since the new castle was erected inTrakai by Kęstutis. The ruins of the castle were granted to Benedictian monks by Vytautas in 1405. It is supposed that the present monastery building dating from the 15th century holds the remains of the Gediminas’ castle.
The archaeological research on the hillfort mound has been carried out in 1996-1997. The findings confirmed the existence of a former rectangular masonry castle wall which had surrounded the hill. It is supposed that the residential buildings had occupied the area near the church and the churchyard.
15. Trakai Island Castle Construction date 14th century
Coordinates: 54.652°N 24.934°E
Current state Rebuilt
Trakai Island Castle is the only castle in Eastern Europe surrounded by water on all four sides, also referred to as the ‘Little Marienburg. The Castle (Lithuanian: Trakų salos pilis) is an island castle located in Trakai, Lithuania on an island in Lake Galvė. The castle is sometimes referred to as “Little Marienburg”. The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century by Kęstutis, and around 1409 major works were completed by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in this castle in 1430. Trakai was one of the main centres of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance.
16. Trakai Peninsula Castle Construction date 14th century
Coordinates: 54.646°N 24.937°E
Current state Partially rebuilt
Trakai Peninsula Castle is one of the castles in Trakai, Lithuania. It is located on a peninsula between southern Lake Galvė and Lake Luka. Built around 1350–1377 by Kęstutis,Duke of Trakai, it was an important defensive structure protecting Trakai and Vilnius, capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, against attacks of the Teutonic Knights. Much of the castle was destroyed in the 17th century. Remaining walls and towers are preserved and protected by the Trakai Historical National Park.
The castle had seven towers connected by a 10 m (33 ft) high wall. The three largest towers, measuring 15 m × 15 m (49 ft × 49 ft), protected most vulnerable southwestern flank. A 12–14 m (39–46 ft) wide moat separated the structure from the town. The castle was attacked in 1382 and 1383 (during the civil war of 1381–1384) and in 1390 (during the civil war of 1389–1392). After the 1422 Treaty of Melno, the castle lost its significance as a defensive structure. It is known that grand Dukes used it as a residence. Sigismund Kęstutaitis was murdered in the castle on 20 March 1440.
In the 16th century it was used a prison. The castle was destroyed during the Russo-Polish War (1654–1667) and never rebuilt. The territory was granted to a Dominican cloister in 1678 by Marcjan Aleksander Ogiński, Voivode of Trakai. However, the monks built their monastery and church only in 1770s. These buildings are also part of the castle ensemble.
Pictured is the largest and best-preserved southern tower.
17. Vilnius Castle Complex Construction date14th century
Coordinates: 54.687°N 25.290°E
Current state Partially rebuilt
The Vilnius Castle Complex (Lithuanian: Vilniaus pilių kompleksas or Vilniaus pilys), is a group of cultural, and historic structures on the left bank of the Neris River, near its confluence with the Vilnia River, in Vilnius, Lithuania. The buildings, which evolved between the 10th and 18th centuries, were one of Lithuania’s major defensive structures.
The complex consisted of three castles: the Upper, the Lower, and the Crooked (Lithuanian: Kreivoji pilis). The Crooked Castle was burned down by the Teutonic Knights in 1390 and was never rebuilt. The Vilnius Castles were attacked several times by the Teutonic Order after 1390, but they did not succeed in taking the entire complex. Its complete capture occurred for the first time during the 1655 Battle of Vilnius. Soon afterwards, the severely damaged castles lost their importance, and many buildings were abandoned. During the Tsarist annexation, several historic buildings were demolished; many more were damaged during the fortress construction in the 19th century.
Today, the remaining Gediminas Tower is a major symbol of the city of Vilnius and of the nation itself. Annually, on January 1, the Lithuanian tricolor is hosted on Gediminas Tower to commemorate Flag Day. The complex is part of the National Museum of Lithuania, one of the largest museums in the country.
18. Gediminas Castle Construction date 14th century
Current state Partially rebuilt
Gediminas Castle – built in about 1230 is one of the most famous castles of Lithuania. It’s main tower is known as a symbol of Vilnius and Lithuania and is always included into tours around Vilnius city.
Built Parts of castle in 10th century Construction materials Stone, bricks, wood In use For defense from 10th-17th centuries Controlled by Lithuania, Russia. Pic caption: Vilnius Castle Complex around 1530.
19. Verkiai Palace Construction dateth century
Verkiai Palace is a beloved sightseeing place in Vilnius. This is a marvelous building of classicism style inside which history is still alive. In addition, this is an unparalleled location for romantics and those who just want to hide from city rush.
20. Tuskulėnai Manor and the Quiet park Construction dateth century
Tuskulėnai Manor ant the Quiet park is an outstanding historical and architectural monument located on Neris river shore near Vilnius city center. Visitors here can get acquainted with newly renovated Manor buildings or tough Soviet times reminding Memorial complex.
21. Veliuona castle Construction date13th century
Current state ruins
Veliuona is a very small town, but it always catches big attention as there are many interesting places to visit and many interesting stories to hear from local inhabitants, for example a story about the majestic Veliuona castle.
The start of the Teutonic Order’s regular offensive against Lithuania was noted by the famous words of Teutonic chronicler Peter of Dusburg:
In the year 1283 A.D., 53 years after the beginning of the war with Prussian tribe when all the nations of this land were already conquered and exterminated so that there was none who would not humbly bend to the Holy Roman Church, brothers of the Teutonic Order started the war with that mighty, stiff-necked and battle-trained tribe, which lived in the neighborhood of the Prussian Land, across the Nemunas River in the land of Lithuania.
The major fights ran along the Nemunas lower reaches, where the defensive system was still not sufficient to withstand the offensive. In 1290 the crusaders attacked the castle of Kolainiai (present Jurbarkas). Its captain Surminas resisted boldly. “Eventually all the men of the castle were wounded to death except for 12, and the blood ran down the walls flooding as a heavy rain,” – Peter of Dusburg wrote. Surminas managed to fend off the siege, but as soon as the crusaders withdraw, he deserted the Kolainiai castle, as it was too week to withstand the future attacks.
On April 22, 1291, Surminas built a new castle in the District of Junigeda. In the beginning sources called it Junigeda as well, but in 1315 the name of Veliuona appeared remaining till present.
Veliuona Castle was the strongest fortress in the Nemunas lower reaches. It had to resist the major offensive of the Teutonic Order, and the destiny of Lithuania itself was determined by its walls.
MORE @ http://www.lpd.lt/veliuona_en.pdf