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Zenonas Rotautas / 500px

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Top choice in Vilnius

If you only see one museum in Vilnius, make it this one. On a site that has been settled since the 4th century AD stands the latest in a procession of fortified palaces, repeatedly remodelled, destroyed and rebuilt. The baroque palace, built for the 17th-century grand dukes, has been faithfully revamped to house an atmospheric museum of art and history. Visitors with several hours can opt for full admission, accessing four 'routes' through Lithuanian history; otherwise choose one or two.

Route I walks you through two millennia of Lithuanian history. Guided through the strata of the palace's foundations, visitors can see the bones of successive episodes in the history of the building and the nation. A second route explores the splendidly reconstructed ceremonial halls of the grand duchy, complete with the crimson velvet of the throne room and remarkable wooden ceilings, while routes three and four take you through a thicket of halberds and swords dating back to the time of the grand dukes. This gleaming white complex is a potent symbol of revitalised, independent Lithuania.