Cathedral Square

The Cathedral Square was formed on the western side of the Lower Castle, south of the Cathedral. On the southern side, the square leaned against the Vilnia river and the Wet gate. The area of the Cathedral square had two owners. The western part of it, including the Cathedral, the old Bishops’ Palace, the Cathedral School, and other rented buildings – belonged to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Vilnius. Meanwhile, the eastern part of the square was under the jurisdiction of the castle, where the main state institutions were established, such as the state treasury, the Supreme Tribunal, the Castle and Land Courts, etc.

The castle’s courtyard was a real epicenter of political, commercial, and social life. Nobles, lower-ranking nobles discussed everyday issues, ambassadors of other states revolved here, and it was possible to see the ruler accompanied by a large escort in this area. After the events that happened in the middle of the 17th century, which destroyed the Lower Castle and the surrounding buildings, as well as the most of defensive fortifications, the square gradually became commercial space. The famous Kaziukas fairs gathered a lot of people. Political and social life became more active only during the court sessions of the Supreme Tribunal.

At the end of the 18th century, more and more shopping stools were built in this square, and at the beginning of the 19th century, after the demolition of the Palace of Grand Dukes, the square became primarily a market place. The fairs had been organized here, which attracted merchants from all regions of Lithuania, and even from other neighboring countries. In 1831 the tsar’s administration decided to built fortifications in the territory of Vilnius lower castle. During the works, a significant part of the buildings had been demolished, as well as most of the shopping stools. The Cathedral square became an empty place.

The main squares of the cities often became a place of public executions. According to legend, Valentin Potocki, a noble who had converted to Judaism, was burned here in Cathedral square. You can find out more about this legend by clicking this link.