Do you know what Vilnius looked like with a defensive wall? Located in the niche of Trakų and Pylimo Streets, the City Gatekeeper sculpture depicts one of the city’s nine historical gates.
Renowned sculptor Stanislovas Kuzma created this work when he was graduating from the Art Institute (now Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts). At the time, the 650th anniversary of the founding of Vilnius was approaching, so the sculpture was used as a decorative detail of the building and simply named Knight.
Initially, the sculpture was made of wood, and due to ideological censorship there were no Gediminas pillars. Later, when Lithuania regained its independence, the statue was made of copper, and was then supplemented by Gediminas' pillars.
The City Gatekeeper is one of Vilnius’ talking sculptures. This is evident from the blue table attached to the sculpture's pedestal, inviting you to listen to the sculpture. Choose one of the two alternatives listed in the table on your smartphone: scan the QR code or type in the specified URL. Arūnas Sakalauskas serves as the voice of the sculpture.
In the Middle Ages, Vilnius was surrounded by a wall built in 1503 by the townspeople to protect against impending Tartar attacks. One of the nine gates of the city, where guards were constantly on duty, was at the intersection of Trakų and Pylimo streets. So the sculpture was intentionally placed at the location of this former gate.
From the beginning of the 20th century until the Second World War, St. Christopher's sculpture was located here.
Prior to producing this work of art, the sculptor studied literature and became interested in the armour and weapons of medieval and Renaissance soldiers. At that time, Kuzma became friends with Rimtautas Gibavičius, a prominent Lithuanian graphic artist, so he modelled the sculpture’s features after his friend’s face, as he felt his friend closely resembled a warrior.