Shopping Stalls in the Town Hall Square

Trade is an indispensable attribute of any city and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vilnius was no exception. Until the end of the 16th century, it remained one of the most important Eastern European centres for transit trade, while Vilnius-based merchants ranked among the city’s most influential residents.

The Town Hall Square was the main trading area where sellers, including dozens of women, daily displayed barrels of pickled cabbage, bottles of oil, boxes of raw and smoked fish, rolls of cloth, several types of bread, cakes, fresh vegetables, cheese, chicks, geese, and other poultry.

It has to be said that men oversaw all major trading operations. That was the rule without a single exception. The role of women – where, what, and how much they were selling – heavily depended on their individual social status. Small scale trading was the one sector where women truly dominated. Female traders could be as young as their teens and up to well over fifties. Often even very young girls ventured out on the street to earn some money by selling flowers and other goods. Their job was far from safe and children had to be on the lookout against all kinds of evil.

Learn more about women traders in old Vilnius by clicing this link.