The Presidential Palace (Lithuanian: Prezidentūra), located in Vilnius Old Town, is the official office and eventual residence of the President of Lithuania. The palace dates back to the 14th century and during its history it has undergone various reconstructions, supervised by prominent architects.
The Palace traces its history back to the 14th century, when Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, issued an edict donating land in the city to the Vilnius Diocese. For this reason the palace is sometimes referred to as the Bishops’ Palace. Construction of the Palace took place in the late 14th century. During the Renaissance times, the Palace was once again renovated, and parks and gardens surrounding the building were expanded.
As the 18th century unfolded, a number of dramatic events in the Palace’s history took place. Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was annexed by the Russian Empire. At the end of 18th century Tsar Paul I lived at the Palace for some time, and then the Palace served as a residence for several Imperial Russian governors, such as Mikhail Muravyov, nicknamed “The Hangman”. It was also visited by the future King of France, Louis XVIII in 1804.
In 1812, both the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the French Emperor Napoleon used the Palace as their residence. During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, he organized military operations from this Palace. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1812, the Palace was used for ceremonial proposes. Here General Mikhail Kutuzov was awarded Russia’s highest military award – the Order of St. George.
During 1824-1834, the Palace was reconstructed by the prominent St. Petersburg architect Vasily Stasov in the Empire style. Stasov’s reconstruction of the Palace has remained to this day. After Lithuania regained its independence in 1918, the Palace housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the Second World War, the Palace served as the Military Officers’ Centre; later it housed various Lithuanian artists.
Nowadays the Palace was gradually adapted for use as a presidential office, and since 1997 it has served as the official office of the President of Lithuania. A flag displaying the coat of arms of the President is hoisted when the President is present in the Palace or in the city.