Gediminas Tower is a remaining structure of what once was the Upper Castle in Vilnius and is an important symbol of the city. This large fortification building currently houses an interesting museum. If you find yourself in Vilnius, we definitely recommend visiting Gediminas Tower to learn about a portion of Lithuania’s history and see some beautiful views over the city.
Gediminas Tower was built by the Grand Duke Gediminas himself. Legend says that while in the area on a hunting excursion, he dreamt of an iron wolf howling from the hilltop and interpreted this as a sign to build a great city here. Thus, a wooden castle was built.
In the early 1400s, a stone castle was built by a later Duke after the former wooden one had burned down. Gediminas Tower became part of a large brick fortification structure used to defend the city against attacks. Multiple invasions over the years destroyed the castles and other structures in the area. The tower ceased to be used as a fortification after the mid-1600s.
Further damage was done to the remaining castle during Russian invasion, WWII, etc. Various conservation efforts were eventually put into place, the museum opened in the 1960s, and the tower was completely renovated in the 1990s. Despite such a long and turbulent history, the tower stands tall on a hill above Vilnius today – it’s easy to see why this is such an important symbol in Lithuania!
Getting to Gediminas Tower
Gediminas Tower sits just by Old Town Vilnius above the Neris River near the beautiful Kalnų Park. Around the east side of the hill where the tower sits, visitors can take the steps up to the tower from Trispalvės street.
There is also a funicular if you don’t want to or are unable to walk up the steps. Tickets cost €2 for a roundtrip ticket and €1 for a single way. The ride is free for preschool children, certain students, and those with disabilities. It operates from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily, but check the website for updates and holiday hours.
Once you make it to the top of Mount Gediminas, you will be in somewhat of a courtyard. Gediminas Tower is on one end and the remains of the Upper Castle Palace sit at the other side. The views of Vilnius from around this area are so pretty in all directions. You can see modern buildings across the river, the older buildings in Old Town, the Palace of the Grand Dukes, and the Three Crosses Monument up on the nearby hillside.
These grounds can be accessed for free when the gates are open to climb the hill. The gates are open daily from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Inside Gediminas Tower
Tickets to access the museum inside Gediminas Tower can be purchased just inside the building. They cost €6 per adult. For more info on other ticket options and guided tour pricing, click here and visit the prices section. Gediminas Tower is also included in the Vilnius Pass. The tower is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Again, check the website for updates and holiday hours to confirm before your visit.
Inside the museum, there are a few floors of exhibits on the construction and history of the castle, the Grand Duchy, military operations, and the growth of Vilnius. There was also some information on Lithuania’s part in the Baltic Way. This was an event where around 2 million people of the Baltic countries stood with their hands linked to form a chain from Vilnius all the way to Tallinn in unity against Soviet rule. Displays are in English, Lithuanian, and Russian.
The museum provided some great information on Vilnius’ past, but if you’d like to take a deeper dive into Lithuanian history, head down the hill to the Palace of the Grand Dukes!