The old River Port in Lukiškės

For many centuries, river shipping was the most efficient way of commercial transport. Merchants’ interest in ships and rafts showed no sign of subsiding until the middle of the 19th century, when rail transport began taking hold. River shipping was the cheapest option for any large shipment of goods, be it grain, timber, salt, herring, wine, metals, or anything else.

The river port in Vilnius operated from the early 16th century till the middle of the 19th century, always occupying the same territory. Several dozen warehouses were built on the riverbank to store goods and parts of ships’ rigging, such as sails, ropes, and anchors.

All the warehouses were made of wood, though some had stone cellars and some were built as two-storey houses. Each warehouse, occupying a piece of private land and surrounded by a fence, stood on a stone foundation. The richest merchants operated up to eight warehouses, some of them known to have stood in Lukiškės as late as in the 1840s.

Learn more about river trade and the old Vilnius river port by clicking on this link.