In 1387 Aukstaitija (the Highlands of Lithuania) was Christianized. Wilno was granted the right of Magdeburg.
Wilno is the capital of the present day Lithuania and one of the country's oldest cities. It stretches along both banks of the fast flowing Neris River, and is set among hills pine forests. Wilno(Vilnius) is very old city. The honour for founding Wilno is justly given to Gediminas (Lithuanian Duke) in 1323. Having declared Wilno his "Royal Town", Gediminas created the conditions for its subsequent growth as well as the political, economical and cultural center of Lithuania.
Following the craftsmen in other European towns at the end of the 15th century, Wilno craftsmen began to join together by professions into guilds. Many Catholic churches and monasteries appeared in the town. Stone buildings sprang up inside the Lower Castle. The new Cathedral was among them. Crafts and trade continued to develop in the 16th century. Many beautiful new buildings in the late Gothic and Renaissance style appeared in the town.
The most significant event in the cultural life of 16th century Lithuania was the founding of the Wilno Academy in 1579, which was endowed with the rights and privileges of a university. In 1795 Wilno became the center of a new gubernia consisting of the lands annexed to the Russian Empire. A number of new Classical style buildings were built, including the Cathedral, which had been reconstructed at the end of the 18th century, a new town hall, and the Governor-General's Palace. In 1860, a railway line which at that time was the first in Lithuania, crossed Wilno and connected the town with St. Petersburg, Russia and Warsaw, Poland.
During World War I Wilno was occupied by the Kaiser's troops for three and a half years. On 16th February, 1918, the Lithuanian Council in Wilno proclaimed an independent Lithuanian Republic.
Population of Wilno before World War 2
Lithuanians - 1%
Poles - over 50%
Remainder - Germans, Jews, Tatars etc
This photo has been kindly donated by Elyssa Kowalinski, it was taken by her grandfather
Jesli chwalic sie to Krakowem, jak mieszkac to w Warszawie, a kochac to Wilno
Please visit the Kresy Photos page for additional views of those areas
Wilno thorough the 1920's
Wilno in 16th Century