Vilnius: The Perfect Set for HBO’s Catherine the Great

Even though Lithuania isn’t a monarchy, you could have seen an Empress walking the streets of Vilnius just recently. Travelling back in time to the 18th century, the Catherine the Great HBO miniseries transported Vilnius to Imperial Russia to recreate St. Petersburg, model Russian palaces, and tell an intense story on screen.

The miniseries focuses on Catherine the Great, played by Oscar winning actor Helen Mirren, in her later years, and her relationship with Russian statesman Grigory Potemkin. “I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power. She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word ‘Great’ attached to her name,” said Helen Mirren to The Mirror.

So if you’re a fan of costume dramas and historic miniseries, it’s about time to visit Vilnius and see the locations depicted on screen in person. Feel like you’re a part of Catherine the Great’s court, minus the plotting schemes. By the way, don’t worry, there are no spoilers here, so go on and discover Vilnius differently.

Interesting facts

Helen Mirren got a chance to visit and meet the former President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, who gave her a present – honey made by the bees she keeps.

There used to be a monument to Catherine the Great in Vilnius Cathedral Square, from 1903 to 1915.

What to do when you need a real-size authentic ship from the 18th century? Build it. That’s what they did for the Catherine The Great in Vilnius. A huge three-floor ship was built recreating it to the tiniest details – even the ship ropes similar to those of the appropriate period had to be sent from UK.

What to read?

If you’re a true film buff, take a look at Vilnius On Screen, our newest publication of films shot in Vilnius. You’ll find some wonderful trivia facts and great insider information on some world-renowned films and television productions. Watching them on the screen will be a different experience once you know exactly where they were filmed – the city of Pripyat recreated in Vilnius Fabijoniskes district for the Chernobyl series or Vilnius Cathedral turned into St. Peter’s Basilica with Swiss guards protecting the building from the Nazis.