Vilnius Revives Landmark 17th-century Grand Duchy of Lithuania Palace

Vilnius Revives Landmark 17th-century Grand Duchy of Lithuania Palace

Tucked away near Vilnius’ historic centre is the landmark 17th-century Sapieha Palace. This April, following six years of meticulous restoration work, it will unveil its grandeur once again to the public as an art space.

The Sapiehas is a palace that is often referred to as Little Versailles. It was designed as a summer residency for one of the noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and is now managed by the Contemporary Art Centre.

A view down one of the long corridors

Following an extensive restoration, the Sapieha Palace will reopen its doors to the public on the 12th of April, when it will once again showcase its artistic heritage and wall and ceiling decor.

Centuries ago, when guests filled the halls of the Sapieha Palace, art was an integral part of the experience. Today, the newly revived spaces will reignite those days with a series of exhibitions, educational programmes, concerts, and other cultural and educational events.

The Sapieha Palace’s inaugural exhibition will be curated by Virginija Januškevičiūtė and Edgaras Gerasimovičius, entitled Užuovėja (Sanctuary).

The incredible stonework on the exterior of the palace

Designed by Giovanni Pietro Perti, the elaborate estate was built in 1692 as a residence for Casimir Jan Sapieha, a distinguished hetman and revered military strategist of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At the end of the 17th century and in the 18th century, the palace served as a luxurious residence for the nobility.

The historic gem, steeped in the rich tapestry of Lithuanian history, has witnessed the comings and goings of governments and the march of Napoleon’s army and even served as a sanctuary during times of conflict, operating as a hospital. After thorough research and extensive restoration work, the palace will soon be full of life again.

The rear of the palace

Sapieha Palace has undergone an extensive restoration process to preserve its baroque splendour, promising an immersive journey into the past and present. After years of neglect, the building has regained its beauty, now standing as a crown jewel amidst the Church of St’s. Peter and Paul, Sapiegos Park and the thriving Techpark.

The ancient stone carvings on the columns

The restored Sapieha Palace is a testament to the dedication and vision of those committed to preserving Lithuania’s heritage for generations to come. The impressive, restored halls recount a 300-year history. From uncovering hidden frescoes to revealing centuries-old stucco decorations, every detail reflects a labour of love and a commitment to excellence.

Photography by Audrius Solominas.

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