The Former Detention House stands at 1 Kosčiuškos Street, at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers. The last prisoners left the building in August 2019.
According to ancient historical sources, a palace belonging to the Chodkevičius family, noblemen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, once stood on this site. During the 16th and 17th centuries the building was ruled by another family, the Sanguškos. Throughout the 18th century the palace had a series of other owners.
Stone buildings were erected in this location in the second half of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, Czarist Russian authorities expropriated the building and manor site from its final owner, Jonas Chodasevičius. Shortly afterwards the occupying authorities turned Gediminas Hill and the surrounding territory into a military bastion, and the Former Detention House began to serve military purposes.
The building at first contained a barracks and later became a prison for political prisoners. During the 1863–1864 Uprising more than 1,000 individuals were held here, including eight of the 21 rebels condemned to death. After they were executed in Lukiškės Square, these rebels’ bodies were secretly buried on Gediminas Hill.
The building continued to function as a detention centre until the fall of 2019. Only its administrators changed: run by Imperial Russian officers up until the First World War, the building was subsequently taken over by Polish and then German policemen, Soviet militiamen, and finally newly independent Lithuania’s authorities. As soon as the last prisoners left the building it was handed over to the National Museum of Lithuania, and today this unusual museum site has been adapted for holding exhibitions.