The Watch

Vilnius Town Wall

Vilnius, Lithuania

1998 World Monuments Watch

A structure erected for pure fortification has evolved into a valuable historic aesthetic element in Vilnius. Built as a defense against the hostile Tartars, the town wall when completed ran three kilometers and encircled a settlement of about 85 hectares. Fitted with10 gates, the handsome brick and stone structure embodied Gothic and Renaissance features. Attacking forces were felled by troops stationed at regularly-spaced artillery openings and on the wooden shooting gallery at the top, a common element in fortifications of the time and region. By the early-nineteenth century, the wall had lost its defensive function and part of it was demolished. The extant section runs between the Subacius and Medininkai gates mostly without interruption. Rain, snow, and freeze-thaw cycles have weakened its bricks and mortar, which can be repaired once a temporary roof would be erected over the damaged section. Artillery openings would be restored and, given adequate funds, the wooden shooting gallery would be reconstructed.

Since the Watch

In November 2014 the Bastion of the Vilnius Town Wall opened its doors after roughly six years of renovations. In the Middle Ages the building served a defensive purpose as part of the city wall fortifications. The building now houses a division of the Lithuanian National Museum.  February 2015

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