Photo by Audrius Salominas

A few centuries ago, when the Sapieha Palace bustled with the aristocracy of The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, art was an integral feature of the daily life and wealth of the palace owners and their guests. When it opens its doors to city life in spring 2024, the palace promises to enrich everyone wanting to be rich with culture. 


Resurrected from the ruins, the Sapieha Palace aims to become a vibrant and lively place on the cultural map of Vilnius, inspiring, educating and enabling all members of society to broaden their cultural horizons in a unique environment. Through various activities, the Sapieha Palace actualisies questions about preserving and adapting its heritage to contemporary life, and aims to create an open and harmonious relationship with the environment and various communities. For this reason, the spaces of the palace have been adapted not only for the display of art and artefacts but for various events and the everyday life of Vilnius residents. There is a café and a reading room, and the ground floor is always open for visits free of charge. 


The Sapieha Palace is a significant monument of architecture, art, and history. It is part of an ensemble that encompasses the former residence of the Sapiehas – a noble family of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – along with the Trinitarian monastery, church, and park. Only a few ensembles of Baroque architecture as unique as that of the Sapieha Palace remain in the region. The practical purpose and symbolic significance of the Sapieha Palace changed over time. At the end of the 17th century and for the first few decades of the 18th century, during an interesting and complex period in the history of the state, the palace was a luxurious residence for the nobility. Throughout the centuries it also served as an instrument of war, a school, a trophy and a refuge. For a long time, the palace was a hospital, and in the Soviet era, it was integrated into a military complex. For the past three decades, it has stood completely empty. After thorough research and extensive restoration work, the palace will soon be full of life again.


Contemporary Art Centre, the largest contemporary art institution in the Baltic States, has been entrusted with the curation of the Sapieha Palace for three decades. Like the CAC, the Sapieha Palace is not a museum and will not accumulate a collection of art, but rather, its activities will seek to reflect the various phenomena of a constantly changing reality and the history that is an integral part of the present. The new custodians of the palace are keen to ensure that the exhibitions, concerts and other events weave contemporary art with works of the past. There are multiple opportunities for visitors to meet the creators of contemporary art, literature, music and cinema, and to be continually engaged in the ever-changing history of both the palace and its surroundings.


The name Sapieha Palace is well known across Lithuania and relates not only to the legacy of its original owner, the Great Lithuanian Hetman Kazimierz Jan Sapieha (1637–1720), but also to the wider Sapieha family, renowned patrons of science and culture. Today, the name of the Sapieha Palace is also associated with the thorough and dedicated work of historians, archaeologists, and restoration experts, who are working to study and preserve the building, so that it can serve a new purpose and become part of the contemporary city’s life. As a result of their efforts, the Sapieha Palace will function as a window into its long and sometimes convoluted history. 


Today, the Sapieha Palace embraces the values of creativity, attention to heritage, coherence, openness and internationality, and the team’s goal is to eventually transform the Sapieha Palace into an international cultural space, fostering respect for history and creating the conditions for an original dialogue between cultural heritage and contemporary art.

Photo by Norbert Tukaj

Photo by Norbert Tukaj