Vilnius University

Vilnius University is the oldest and the largest university in Lithuania established in 1579. As for a long time it was the only one university in Lithuania, it influenced Lithuanian society a lot. Nowadays it includes 19 academic subdivisions, almost 3000 employees and more than 23700 students in total. The Vilnius University is one of the most important educational institutions in Lithuania which has operated for more than 400 years already. As a part of Lithuanian history, it also distinguishes in owning some objects of heritage of historic architecture. It is the Old ensemble of  Vilnius university located in the Old Town.

The Old ensemble of Vilnius university occupies  an entire quarter of the Vilnius Old Town. It is located near the Presidential palace. 4 old streets (University st. , Castle st. , street of St. John and Kapas st.) surround the complex.  This complex of buildings was finally formed in the end of the 18th century and, surprisingly, has not changed until nowadays. As an architectural masterpiece, the Old ensemble includes 12 buildings of gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicism styles, the Church of St. John and a Bell tower. All these buildings perfectly reflect a history of the university as they were built not all at the same time, but one after another.  There are 13 yards of different size and importance framed by historic structures of the Old ensemble. They are all unique in their names, surroundings and history.

The most impressive yards there are the Library yard, the Great yard, yards of Simonas Daukantas and Motiejus Sarbievijus, and the Observatory yard. The oldest one is the Observatory yard. It was formed in the end of 16th century. In the 17-18th centuries a pharmacy here operated and various herbs were grown. The most impressive building there is an observatory of classicism style which is decorated with zodiac signs and Latin sentences like “Hinc itur ad astra” (Such is the way to the stars). The yard of Library is surrounded mostly by library sections. For 200 years this yard was used for household purposes, but later right after several reconstructions it started serving as a representative yard. The library includes several halls worth visiting because of their exclusive historic décor. The yard of Motiejus Sarbievijus nowadays is the main yard of philologists of Vilnius university as M. Sarbievijus was the most famous poet in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This inside yard is surrounded by buildings of various shapes and styles including spectacular counterforts, arches and frescos. Right from the yard of M. Sarbievijus there is a passage to the other inside yard of Simonas Daukantas who was a famous Lithuanian historic and a student of Vilnius university. The most valuable architectural composition there is a fragment of an authentic renaissance attic. As this complex also belongs to philologists, the inside lobbies here are decorated with creations by talented Lithuanian artists like a scratchwork “Muses” and a mosaic “Lithuanian mythology”.  Finally, the Great yard has always been the most important in the whole structure of the Old Ensemble of Vilnius university. It unites sacral, academic and representative functions of the university. There are the main buildings of renaissance style located, an authentic marble board made in 1580 hangs announcing an opening of the university: “Academia et Universitas Societatis Jesu Erecta anno 1580”. There are also other boards memorializing various emeritus people and of course, the marvelous baroque church of Sts. John and the Bell tower here stand.

No doubt that visiting the Old ensemble of Vilnius university is necessary when walking in the streets of Vilnius Old Town. Anyone could be jealous for nowadays students of Vilnius university who have their lectures inside buildings of this fascinating old complex. These are students of Philology, Philosophy and History faculties. Perhaps an academic atmosphere which formed here through centuries inspires people not only to study, but also to honor history and commitment to education.



Welcome to Vilnius University