Gediminas Castle Tower is practically all that remains of Upper Castle, the medieval complex that was constructed in Vilnius in the early 14th century. The tower was once the reward that followed an arduous climb up Castle Hill through Vilnius Old Town, but these days a funicular makes the journey up to the castle from the courtyard outside the Cathedral and Lower Castle much easier.
Perched at a height of 157 feet (48 m) above the rest of the city, not much of the Upper Castle has survived the civil wars and Russian sieges of Lithuania’s 15th through 17th centuries. After being damaged during the war with Moscow in 1655, the castle lost its strategic importance and was not rebuilt, gradually falling into disrepair. The remaining sturdy and hexagonal Gediminas
Tower has become a redbrick symbol of peace to the people of Lithuania; it now forms part of the nine-branch National Museum of Lithuania, and inside there is a small exhibition of weapons and armory. Far more popular, however, is the panoramic vista of Vilnius from the landmark’s viewing platform. On a clear day, the Television Tower and the high-rise apartment complexes
evidencing Soviet occupation can be spotted; the view is just as good at nightfall with the lights of Vilnius Old Town twinkling merrily below.
Gediminas Tower is open daily from May through September, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the remaining months, it closes at 5 p.m. Admission costs 5LTL. The funicular has the same opening dates, and one-way tickets costs 2LTL. A round-trip costs 3LTL.