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Historic Iconography of the Vilnius Castles

6 July–26 September 2021
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

The national exhibition Historic Iconography of the Vilnius Castles is an exclusive opportunity to take a retrospective glance at the whole history of the development of the Vilnius Castles (Upper and Lower) ensemble: the periods of construction, flourishing and decline, their demolition, non-existence, memory and attempts at reconstruction. The images of the Vilnius Castles and their most important structures that were tracked down in archives, libraries, museums and other institutions over several decades by Lithuanian and foreign researchers have been introduced into public life, making it possible to become familiar with the evolution of this exceptional political, cultural and spiritual centre of the state of Lithuania, and the fundamental changes that took place through the ages – from the imagined visual representations of the late 14th century to the architectural visions of the early 20th century.

On display in the exhibition will be forty high resolution facsimiles of works, where most attention will be dedicated to the most important political centre – the residence of the grand dukes of Lithuania in the Vilnius Lower Castle. Other important buildings in the Vilnius Upper and Lower castles ensemble are also worthy of separate attention: the Vilnius Cathedral with St Casimir's Chapel, the Old Bishops' Palace, the buildings of the Arsenal, the Supreme Tribunal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Castle Court and Land Court, the Vilnius Lower Castle's defensive wall and towers, the Castle Gate, the Upper Castle with its Gothic residential palace, along with other significant objects. The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to admire these buildings where important events in the history of the Lithuanian state took place, and to examine how they changed over time.

The selected historical iconography of the Vilnius Castles consists not only of panoramas and images of separate buildings made by contemporaries but also several very accurate maps, architectural designs and sketches, and the visions and interpretations of romantics and travellers which were always used to preserve in historical memory the buildings that had been witnesses of the state tradition of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – buildings that were not only demolished by conquerors but were later studied in the name of historical self-awareness.

The exhibition presenting the iconography of the Vilnius Castles and the most important objects in this ensemble is very diverse and colourful – at times the images are inaccurate in terms of architecture and topography and boast imagined elements and architectural features, in other instances, one cannot help being amazed by the precise proportions and details. Seeing this whole spectrum of variety, visitors will be taken on a journey of discovery, learning about the artists and other authors who memorialised the Vilnius Castles and appreciating the history of this territory from a different angle; by harnessing our imaginations, we all have the chance to return to the early Vilnius Castles ensemble.


2021-07-01
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