The oldest Vilnius gardens and parks
Let us briefly overview historical development of the major Vilnius historical green spaces and their complexes starting from the very oldest ones.
Today’s Presidency Park (former Bishops’ Palace ) is one of the oldest with uninterrupted history. It is associated with the first written mention of this green space in 1387. ”A garden that is located at Goštauto street – A garden by a hillside southwards and a road circling around Vilnius towards the river in the West”. Part of Goštautų gardens territory is today covered with the Presidency Park. The Bishops’ gardens were also mentioned in 1543 letter of Bishop P.Alšėniškis (Holszanski), where he was writing about setting up a chapel in the garden by the Bishop’s Palace. The surviving inventory of 1753 shows that at the time this was an incredibly beautiful „Italian“ style park in documents traditionally called the garden. It was developed following the example of Northern Italian parks, and covered a much larger area than it does now. The main park massif was situated in the territory of today’s Daukanto street. The garden of irregular shape was laid out geometrically with straight radial paths, round square and regularly shaped lawns characteristic of the baroque age. The centrepiece of the garden was a large quadrangle pond. In the 18th. C. this was on the most beautiful and interesting Vilnius parks. After the palace was transformed into the residence of Vilnius Governor General the former “Italian” or baroque park was redeveloped according to the design of the Principality architect J.Pusje and expanded westwards and the behind the palace. It was given the structure of the “English” park that came into fashion then. The green space was divided by wall into two independent parts from the composition point of view. The garden layout became more pictorial with new curved alleys and irregularly shaped lawns. The garden was expanded in the Southwest direction and moved from the old part in front of the palace that was now converted into a square. The square had a fountain with an oval pool. In 1898 the former was replaced by a monument of an ex-Governor General of Vilnius M.Murawjow, the suppresser of the 1863 revolt, and the square was named after him (the monument hated by Vilnius citizens was torn down after the 1st World War). After the 1st World War the square was named after Napoleon. Until 1987 the palace park had a 100 trees including maple, oak and chestnut trees much like by Lithuanians since old times.
Vilnius Lower Castle Palace Park
Vilnius Lower Castle Palace Park. This park is a heritage park of many centuries of development and unique value to Lithuanian history. The Lower Palace garden was on the southern slope of the Castle Hill, to the south and Southeast of the Lower Castle Palace. Little is known of its structure, only that in 1536 it was taken care by gardener J.Hartulanus. There are mentions of alleys, lawns, flowerbeds, white marble sculptures and decorative bridges. At the time it could compete with the most beautiful Italian and French gardens. In time, however, the park deteriorated. After the Lower Castle Palace was torn down at the end of the 18th c. its territory was included into the area of the czar military fort then under development. When the military citadel was set up with ditches dug in the territory of the former park and a shooting range, the destruction of the green spaces of this territory was completed. After the czar fortress was shut down the Lower Castle Palace Park went to the city municipality and was incorporated into the complex of Castle Hill foot green spaces. In about the same spot a square much liked by citizens called Veršynas (Calf-tender) was set up.
Former Radvilų Garden
Former R Former Radvilų Garden advilų Garden at the Lower Palace was located by River Neris west of Vingrės stream. It was set up in the 16th c. by Radvilų Palace called the Palace of Barbora Radvilaitė. The garden spread Southeast of the palace and was linked to the Lower Castle palace by a closed bridge-shaped gallery which was a unique thing. The legend has it that Žygimantas Augustas used to visit Barbora Radvilaitė by this gallery. Until the beginning of the 18th c. this was a renaissance park, the style of which the Radvilas remembered from the time of their studies in Italy. The Southeast part of the garden displayed four regularly-shaped ponds with swans raised there for that special purpose. When in the beginning of the 19th c. the palace deteriorated, the garden gradually vanished with it. At the end of the 19th c. the territory was owned by various owners and was gradually developed.
Gardens of former Bernardine Monastery and former Olizar Palace
Gardens of former Bernardine Monastery and former Olizar Palace. In as early as the 15th c. the Bernardine (fratres fransiscanes observantes) Monastery had a garden located Northwest of it. This was one of the oldest monastery gardens in Lithuania. And in the 16-17th c. a garden was set up by the adjacent palace which was later called Olizar palace. In the 1st half of the 18th c. both gardens were fenced in by brick walls and paid out in regular straight lines. At the time this must have been the best managed complex of green spaces in Vilnius. It was comprised of four smaller gardens, a few horticultural gardens with a hop-garden, herb gardens, shade lime and maple tree alleys
for cutting. In the beginning of the 19th c. the Bernardine Monastery garden retained the regular layout whereas the adjacent Olizar garden was paid out pictorially. When in mid 19th c. a new street was built right through the garden territory (today’s Maironio street), the garden was practically destroyed. The small garden in front of the Lithuanian Arts Academy today is the remains of this garden.