Like many medieval cities, Vilnius had a defensive wall of brick and stone around the core of the city.  Vilnius’ city wall was build between 1503 and 1522.  The original wall had nine gates and an artillery bastion.  Most of the wall was destroyed during the Russian imperial period.  Only the artillery bastion, a section of wall and one gate remain.  The remaining gate, Aušros Vartai — the Gates of Dawn — is one of the most famous places in Vilnius.  It now houses a chapel with a miracle-working icon of Mary, the Mother of God.  The artillery bastion is now a museum, although it is currently closed for reconstruction.  If you walk down Subačiaus street to the edge of Old Town, you can still see a section of 500-year old wall.

Tallinn, Estonia has one of my favorite European Old Town’s because most of the wall and bastion towers are still standing.  You can see photos from my visit there in July 2007 here.

Chapel in the Gates of Dawn

Chapel in the Gates of Dawn

Vilnius' medieval city wall

Vilnius' medieval city wall