In commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, the National Museum of Lithuania together with the National Art Museum of Lithuania will present the original copy of Gediminas’ letter.
None of Gediminas’ original letters have survived, so the copy made in Riga shortly after receiving it is the most authentic document testifying to the birth of the city of Vilnius. Its existence revealed to historians the fact of Gediminas’ letters themselves and the date of their sending is the first mention of Vilnius, which today allows the city to celebrate its 700th anniversary.
The letter of Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas, addressed to the citizens of Lübeck, Stralsund, Bremen, Magdeburg, Cologne and other cities, dated 25 January 1323, contains the earliest known written mention of the name of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. There is not a single original copy of the letter of Gediminas extant, therefore this transcript, which was made in Riga shortly after the receipt, makes it the most authentic record of the birth of the city of Vilnius, giving us a legitimate opportunity to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the city.
This letter as well as other letters of Grand Duke Gediminas sent to the north German cities of the Hanseatic League and to the Franciscan and Dominican Orders were at the heart of the political programme of the Lithuanian ruler whereby he sought to reinforce the country’s political stature and promote its economic development. The letters can be reasonably regarded as Gediminas’ vision for the country and the city: it reflects the ruler’s political ideas and tactics, his values and ideals.
Exhibition “The Letters of Gediminas: Now and Then” is open to the public from 25 January at the Gediminas Castle Tower (Arsenalo g. 5) and will run through 27 August 2023.
Asta Daunoravičienė, Valdas Steponaitis
Architect and Designer
Creators of illustrated storytelling
Rimas Gecevičius, Jurga Karosaitė