HISTORY OF THE
SAPIEHA PALACE

Photo by Norbert Tukaj

The Sapieha Palace is a High Baroque countryside villa, and part of an ensemble of residential and cult buildings, built in the Vilnius-suburb of Antakalnis in the 17th century.

 

The palace was constructed between 1689 and 1692 by the order of Kazimierz Jan Paweł Sapieha, Grand Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, voivode (palatine) of Vilnius. Situated next to the palace is a French-style park, Trinitarian Monastery and the Church of Jesus the Saviour. Architect Giovanni Batista Frediani, sculptor Giovanni Pietro Perti, and painter Michelangelo Palloni worked on the ensemble. 

Vilnius. Palace ruins in Antakalnis by Jokūbas Šolma, 1742, LNDM, T-594

Sapieha Palace by Jonas Šolma, 1819, LNDM, Fi-316/19

The Sapieha family owned the palace until the 18th century. Later, in the 19th century a hospital was located there, as well as an ophthalmology clinic, while in the Soviet era an elite school of anti-aircraft defense radiotechnics was stationed there. After Lithuania regained its independence, a long period of archeological and architectural research was carried out, and a restoration programme of the palace architecture was devised, the palace was restored and adapted for use. In the spring of 2024, the palace will open to visitors as a new department of the Contemporary Art Centre.

 

The palace and park is the only existing ensemble from the Baroque period in Lithuania to have survived and boasts many important elements that have been preserved to this day: the palace building itself, the park, three gates, and the remaining walls that border the palace courtyard and park. However, in the 200 years since the Sapieha family left Antakalnis, the architecture of the park’s greenery has changed, and farm yard buildings and sections of wall in the courtyard and park have been demolished. It is the surroundings of the ensemble that have experienced the most significant change: the forests have been replaced by built-up quarters and the visual and compositional connection of the park with the nearby church has been obstructed by a 19th-century hospital building.

 

In 2001, the Sapieha Palace was officially registered on the list of Real Heritage of Lithuania following the earlier registration of the complex of buildings of the Sapieha residence, the Trinitarian monastery and the hospital in 1992.

Photo by Audrius Solominas

Photo by Audrius Solominas