Top 10 Lovely Castles in Lithuania to Visit
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Castles are explicitly built as defensive structures to survive attacks in the medieval period. Their capabilities were enhanced by using technologies like murder-holes, arrow-slits, and moats. With the advent of gunpowder, castles finally fell of popularity as they remained mostly obsolete due to offensive technologies like canons.
Most of the early castles in Lithuania were made of wood due to which they haven’t survived. Those castles which survived are made of brick and stones dating back from the 13th century or later.
Spanning over 900 years of middle ages, castles were made in different design and architecture style. Despite their internal differences, they all are fortified. Medieval castles in Lithuania were initially built in strategic locations like near the political heartland of the nation like Vilnius Castle, or along the rivers. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful and famous castles in Lithuania.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Where to stay in Lithuania?
- 2 Short in time? Go sightseeing in Lithuania on tour!
- 3 List of Castles in Lithuania
- 4 Other destinations to visit in Europe
- 5 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Where to stay in Lithuania?
Short in time? Go sightseeing in Lithuania on tour!
List of Castles in Lithuania
Kaunas Castle is one of the medieval castles in Lithuania located in Kaunas, which is the second-largest Lithuanian city. According to the archeological evidence, it was initially built during the middle of the 14th century in Gothic style. It is located at a strategic location on the banks of river Nemunas around its confluence of river Neris, one-third of the castle was still living at the start of the 21st century.
The precise date of construction of the original Kaunas castle is still unknown. According to the archeological data, a stone castle was built during the mid-14th century. Located on an elevated riverbank around 100 km from Vilnius, the fort served as an outpost and protected the nearest trade routes and cities.
Today, it houses an art gallery in the round tower of the castle. It is still open for tourists and organizes occasional events. Also, in 2010-11, a major reconstruction was done.
Trakai Island Castle
Trakai castle is an island castle located on Lake Galve island in Trakai region of Lithuania. The stone castle was started to be built in the 14th century by Kestutis and major works were completed around 1409 by Vyatautas the Great, his son who died in 1430 in this castle. Trakai castle held significant strategic value, and Trakai was the main center for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The Trakai Island Castle was built in multiple phases. In the middle of the 14th century, the construction of the castle on the largest lake island was marked on the first phase by Order of Kestutis, the Grand Duke. The structure of the castle was based on the strengthening and expansion of Trakai Peninsula Castle.
The main residence and treasury of Kestutis were moved to the Trakai Island Castle. Two wings were added during the second phase, and a 6-story (115 ft. high) donjon was built on the south of the castle. In the third phase, the forecastle was expanded in the early 15th century. The walls were thickened to 2.5m and raised with added firing galleries.
Raudondvaris Castle or Raudondvaris Manor is a gentry’s residence in the eponymous Raudondvaris town of Lithuania. It was built in Gothic-Renaissance style. First mentioned by Teutonic chroniclers as a page keep in 1392, Raudondvaris Castle was further enlarged and strengthened after the Battle of Grunwald. The Teutons originally built a small Koenigsberg castle on its place when Samogitia was moved to the Order, housing 400 soldiers, and 80 knights.
Since then, it belonged to the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and kings of Poland until 1549, when it was donated by Sigismund II Augustus (apart from the nearby town) to his wife, Barbara Radziwill, the queen consort. The red brick manor (named after the nearby village of Czerwony Dwor) fell into disuse after her death, and Gintowt-Dziewałtowski family bought it, who sold the castle back to Radziwill family later on.
The property belonged Tyszkiewicz family until World War I. The castle was supposed to have the extensive art collection of the family, including the creations of Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Matejko and Caravaggio. The manor was taken away by Lithuanian authorities after the war. The estate was divided into separate plots, and the mansion housed a school and an orphanage.
The manor was damaged severely during WWII and rebuilt in 1962 to 1975. It houses a small museum devoted to both Lithuanian composer Juozas Naujalis and the Tyszkiewicz family born in the nearest village and the Lithuanian Institute of Melioration.
Medininkai Castle is one of the medieval castles in Lithuania located in Vilnius, built at the beginning of the 14th century. The defensive structure of the castle expanded on 6.5 hectares. This type of villa is the largest enclosure in Lithuania. The castle was designed for flank defense and built on the plain ground. The rectangular yard of the castle covered over 1.8 hectares, protected by 2m thick and 15m high walls.
The castle had four towers and gates. The central tower was around 30m high and used for housing quarters. Initially, the Medininkai mentioned in the year 1392. A significant fire severely damaged the castle at the end of the 15th century. This type of castle was no longer used for defense due to increased use of firearms and was used later as a residence. It was reorganized into a bakery and a farm during the 17th to 18th centuries.
Also known as Norviliskes Manor, the Norviliškės castle was a former monastery and a renaissance castle in Norviliškės city of Lithuania. Also, it is mentioned in the year 1586. The owners gave away the part of its land to Franciscans in 1617. They built a Renaissance style church and a monastery in 1745. Kazimieras Kaminskis rebuilt the monastery at the end of the 18th century.
After the 1831 November Uprising, Russian authorities closed the monastery and turned the same into barracks to accommodate the soldiers, and later turned into a boarding school for girls. The St. Mary Compassionate Mother’s church closed for the monastery. The new wooden church was constructed in the year 1929.
The former manor remained abandoned for a long time. Reconstruction of the castle started by Giedrius Klimkevičius, an entrepreneur from Vilnius in 2005. The PHARE program funds the project. The Norviliskes Castle will hopefully become a tourist destination. It hosts weddings, business conferences, shooting, hunting practices, and activities like Be2gether, a music festival.
Raudone is a residential manor or estate in Raudone, dating back to the 19th century. It is used as a public school today. An ancient Teutonic castle, Bayersburg II was located here until the 16th century. It was originally a setting of East Prussian legend “The White Maiden of Bayersburg.” Sigismund II August, the Grand Duke, gave this royal manor to Krispin Kirschenstein, a Prussian merchant. He built a manor house of Renaissance style with 110 ft. The cylindrical tower on the old castle grounds at the end of the 16th century.
The 18th-century owners of the estate, the Olendzki Rawicz family of Polish nobility, commissioned Wawrzyniec Gucewicz to renovate the castle. Platon Zubov, the Russian Prince, the next owner, owned this castle at the beginning of the 19th century and the castle was transformed again by the family. The architect Cesare Anichini redesigned the castle. The building was designed in Neo-Gothic style in 1877 as part of the complex. It was used as a residence and warehouse for servants. The building turned into a mill in 1923.
The whole complex is a living epitome of the Neo-Gothic architecture of the 19th century. Sophia Waxell (a granddaughter of Sophia von Pirch-Kaiserov, the niece of Platon Zubov) and her husband, Jose Carlos de Faria e Castro, from Madeira, were the last owners of the castle in 1898-1937.
The castle was owned by her husband after the death of Sophia, and later to her son Joseph Carlo de Faria e Castro and Olga Kordashevski, his wife, and their children, Vladimir, Nikolai and Alexander. And National Bank of Lithuania owned the castle in 1937.
The castle surrounded by an old park where there are rare trees grow like the Swiss pine, silver fir, line with nine trunks, grey walnut, and Gediminas Oak. Under the Gediminas Oak, the Grand Duke of Lithuania named Gediminas had a lunch according to a legend. This tree is no longer putting off leaves. The tower is open for the tourists as observatory tower from Nemunas valley.
Siesikai is a residential castle located near Sieskai in Ukmerge district of Lithuania. Located on Siesikai Lake, the castle was built in the 16th century by Gabrielius Daumantas-Siesickis in Renaissance style. Also known as Siesicki, Daumantai was his heirs who had given their fame of the family to the nearest town.
After 1820, the masonry palace was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style by Dominik Dowgiallo. Out of the four towers in every corner of the palace, only two remain from the former castle. Also, the castle is still under an ongoing restoration since 1990.
It is a castle located in Birzai of Lithuania. This Bastion-style castle started to be developed in 1586 by Order of ‘the Lightning’ Krzysztof Mikołaj Radziwill. When preparing for its construction, a dam was built in 1575 on the Apaščia and Agluona rivers at their beginning and Lake Širvėna, an artificial lake covering around 40 sq. Km was created. The works of major castle building were finished in the year 1589.
The castle has been the main seat of Biržai-Dubingiai Radziwiłł family since the second half of 17th century which was transferred from Dubingiai Castle. During the wars against Sweden, Biržai Castle worked as a leading defensive structure.
In the 1980s, the castle was rebuilt from ruins in Renaissance-Baroque manner. In this castle, the residential manor houses a local history museum ‘Sela’ and a library founded in the year 1928.
This castle located on the right bank of river Nemunas in Jurbarkas district of Vytenai in Lithuania. In 1343, the original hill fort of Teutonic Knights was replaced by the castle from 1604 to 1610 by Janusz Eperjesz, a noble Hungarian descent. Along with Nemunas, the title “Panemune” is guessed from the previous Panemune Manor was here once.
This castle was not originally built as a stronghold for the defense of land but a typical nobleman castle from the start of the 17th century, with residential buildings, defensive fittings, and farm buildings.
Panemune Castle was one of the most serene buildings in Lithuania from the Renaissance era. Gielgud family rebuilt the castle in 1759. The recent owners built lavish manor house as frescos interiors, which have been discovered recently, while the rest of the wings of the castle are still under reconstruction. Currently, the castle is being prepared for the visitors.
The castle is located on a high hill in a park surrounded by five serene ponds. The creatures of Vilnius Art Academy are displayed in the castle during the tourism season. You can walk in the castle and discover the beautiful view opened from the tower of the castle.
Senieji Trakai Castle
Also known as Old Trakai castle, the Seneiji Trakai Castle belonged to Senieji Trakai in Lithuania. Grand Duke Gediminas built the first enclosure-style brick castle, who gave the capital of Lithuania to Trakai from Kernave before 1321. Grand Duke Vytautas was born here in 1350, and this is also were the wedding of Birute and Grand Duke Kestutis was held.
In Senieji Trakai, the castle was destroyed in 1391 by the Teutonic Order, which remained barren subsequently and it was never rebuilt. Kestutis rebuilt yet another palace in Trakai. Vytautas granted the ruins of the castle to Benedictian monks in the year 1405.
It is presumed that the current building of the monastery, built in the 15th century, houses the ruins of Gediminas castle. In 1996-97, archeological research was carried out on the hill-fort mound. The existence of the former masonry wall was finally confirmed in the findings, which had covered the hill. It is believed that the residential complexes occupied the area around the churchyard and the church.
Other destinations to visit in Europe
Portugal, France, Andorra, Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Gibraltar, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, The Netherlands, The UK, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia an Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Macedonia.
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