The museum at the Bastion of the Vilnius Defence Wall tells the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s weaponry and defence practices. Here the visitor will see not only the earliest gunpowder-firing weapons but will learn a great deal about the use of artillery in Lithuania’s past: from early grenades and mortars to 17¬–18th century mobile and functional types of canons.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s defence history is varied and full of intriguing historical facts, which are reflected in the Bastion Museum exhibition: hussar cavalrymen adorned with wings; the first European textbook about artillery, by Kazimieras Simonavičius, whose visionary ideas included plans for a multi-level space rockets; images of Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn on soldiers’ breastplates…
While telling the story of the city’s past, the more than 400-year-old Bastion raises a multitude of intriguing questions: how did the residents of 16th century Vilnius defend themselves while the defence wall was being built? How many gates did it have and what kinds of locks were used to secure them? Did the city’s executioner really live next to the Bastion? Where in the Bastion is the treasure of the cursed maiden hidden? And did the Basilisk that allegedly lived in a cave in the Bastion hill and kept the city in terrors hundreds of years ago really exist?
The fortification bastion was built in the 16th century as part of the city’s defensive wall system, which consisted of 10 gates. The wall formed a closed circle – almost two and a half kilometres in perimeter – around the entire city. The bastion suffered greatly from 1655 to 1661 during a war with Russia. In the late 18th century, the bastion area was turned into a city dump. It was rebuilt in the 20t century and turned into a museum in 1987.