The official residence of the President of Lithuania is found in Daukanto Square and began life in the 14th century as a luxury home built for the city’s first Catholic bishop, Andrzej Jastrzebiec. The building remained the residence of Vilnius’s wealthy clergy until the Russian invasion in 1795, when it became the resplendent home of the city’s Tsarist governors.
By this time the splendid neo-classical façade had been added and the palace was extended to form one side of today’s grand piazza, surrounded by other aristocratic mansions. Although Napoleon briefly sent the Russians packing in 1812, Lithuanian independence from Russia only finally came in 1990. The palace was renovated in 1997 before becoming the official home of the Lithuanian President.
Among the notorious figures that have overnighted in the palace over the centuries are Tsar Alexander I, French King Louis XVIII, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Polish national hero Józef Pilsudski. The national flag is hoisted over the palace whenever the president is in the city, and a flag-changing ceremony takes place on Sundays at noon. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily at 6 p.m.
A flag-changing ceremony takes place on Sundays at noon, and the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily at 6 p.m. The tranquil gardens behind the palace are free to explore.