Sauliaus Žiūros nuotr.

The Splendor of Vilnius Palaces and in Films and TV Shows


Did you know that chambers of Eastern European nobles, luxurious Austrian palaces, and the most important state institutions of Scandinavian countries can be found without leaving Lithuania? Various TV series and films shot in Vilnius have proven that the Lithuanian capital on screen can easily transform itself into various historical eras and the most famous architectural objects. This time, the Vilnius Film Office invites you to take a walk around Vilnius castles, palaces, and parks, which have contributed their greatness and luxury to many foreign feature films and TV series.


Vilnius Town Hall


The Neoclassical style Town Hall was most recently reconstructed at the end of the 18th century by the architect Laurynas Gucevičius; however, the building that used to stand in the same place goes back to much older times. During various historical periods, these walls housed the magistrate and prison, and the pillar of shame once stood right in front of the building.

The entrances and interior of the edifice often catch the eye of filmmakers. In the TV series about the legendary Swedish gangster Klark Olofsson, the Vilnius Town Hall became the courthouse to which the main character was brought before his imprisonment. Interestingly, it was this scandalous character’s crime that inspired the term Stockholm syndrome, which has been adopted around the world. The term refers to the psychological phenomenon when hostages (victims) during abduction develop positive feelings towards their captors, such as voluntary obedience, respect, or even love.

The HBO and Sky TV series “Catherine the Great,” depicting the life of the Russian empress, was also shot in the town hall. The miniseries focuses on the later years of Catherine the Great’s reign and her relationship with Grigory Potemkin. In the show, the Oscar winner Hellen Mirren played the famous Russian ruler. In Town Hall Square, the filmmakers shot the gallows scene, and Catherine the Great gave an inspiring speech on the building’s steps.

Besides, the Town Hall’s corridors, spacious halls, and beautiful staircase can be seen in the TV series “Hilma”. The show tells the story of the Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), one of the trailblazers of abstract art in the Western world, as well as the pioneer of feminism. The artist’s mysterious, philosophical, and spiritist paintings continue to raise many questions.

Photo creedits: Saulius Žiūra

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Photo credits: Paprika Films

Trakų Vokė Manor Homestead


The ensemble of the Trakų Vokė manor homestead is a unique architectural monument dating back to the heyday of the Counts Tiškevičius. At first, it was the summer residence of the noble family; later on, it became their permanent place of residence. The Tiškevičius family ruled Vokė for almost a century.

Over the last decade, the Trakai Vokė architectural compound has been increasingly popular not only with curious visitors but also with filmmakers. This historical location has played Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and a city in the United Kingdom. However, the palace bears the strongest resemblance to the 18th–19th century Eastern European estates. When an aristocratic atmosphere or spacious apartments and public spaces are needed, the indoor spaces of this historical building suit the purpose perfectly. Various feature films and series such as “War and Peace,” “Anna Karenina,” “Catherine the Great,” “Blood in the Snow,” “Hilma,” “The Royal Crowd,” and many others were shot in the picturesque Trakų Vokė estate.

“Decorators can change a venue almost beyond recognition; for example, when the windows are covered, it looks like a palace right from medieval times,” says Ieva Šiušaitė, director of the Trakai Vokė manor homestead

Photo creedits: Saulius Žiūra

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Photo creedits: Trakų Vokė Manor

Sapiegų Park


Sapiegų Park is located in the quaint Antakalnis district. It is one of the oldest parks in Vilnius, founded near the baroque palace constructed by the great hetman Kazimier Jonas Sapiega in the 17th century. Back then, the compound consisted of a monastery with a church, offices, and outbuildings, and in the park, there were fountains, sculptures, and ponds. In 1809, a military hospital was opened in the Sapiegų Palace, the edifices of the adjacent park, and the Trinitarian Monastery.

Today, the historical park is home to Vilnius Tech Park; open-air reading rooms await literature lovers during the warm season; the oldest tree in the city welcomes those who look for shade during the hottest daytime hours; and trendy cafes serve fragrant coffee beverages and snacks.

Those who have seen the detective series “Young Wallander” will surely recognize the park. An important scene was shot here: police cars and demining forces swarmed into the park while the actors did their best to avoid the explosion of a deadly bomb. Scenes of “Conspiracy of Silence” were shot in the park’s open spaces and its buildings, whereas the series “Playlist” was shot in one of the restaurants located here.

Photo credits: Saulius Žiūra

Vaidilos Theater


The neo-gothic Vaidilos Theater, located near Gedimino Avenue on Jakšto Street, has a unique history. No wonder it is often used as a scenic location in various cinema projects.

The building was designed at the end of the 19th century by the architect Mikhail Prozorov, who later settled here with his family. 14 rooms belonged to the architect’s family, and the remaining premises were rented to various shopowners and the Railway Club. After a while, the building was rented out for meetings of the intelligentsia, and gradually it also became a performance venue. One of the plays staged here was the famous “Amerika Pirtyje”.

In 1930, the actor and director Juozas Kanopka, together with fellow theater students, founded the drama section of the Vilnius Lithuanian Union, and from 1939 to 1944, the theater was known as “Flying Vaidila.” The building was damaged during World War II but was later rebuilt.

After its restoration in 2015, the Vaidila Theater came back to life. Now it is well known for its beautiful inner courtyard and the main room, whose historical value is widely recognized and which serves as an elegant venue for various events.

Vaidila’s Theater is very camera-friendly; the large space, auxiliary rooms, tall columns, and ornate balconies are much appreciated by filmmakers for allowing them to fulfill their creative ideas.

Photo credits: Lukas Šalna

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Vileišių Palace


Vileišių Palace is an ensemble of neo-baroque and modern-style palatial buildings constructed in 1904–1906. The work was commissioned by Petras Vileišis, a prominent Lithuanian social and cultural figure, writer, and engineer. Remarkably, for the palace construction, certain materials that were rare in Lithuania were used for the first time, namely, cement and concrete. The Vileišių Palace ensemble consists of the main palace, a residential building, an outbuilding, and a fence with a gate.

The history of the building is closely linked to the culture of Lithuania and its most famous representatives. In the winter of 1907, the first Lithuanian art exhibition took place here. The event was organized by Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, Petras Rimša, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, and Jonas Basanavičius, who gave a speech at the opening ceremony. The building also housed a printing house, where the Institute of History was located, and since 1963, the former palace has been home to the Institute of Lithuanian Language and Literature.

Today, this place is also appreciated by Lithuanian and foreign filmmakers, who find ways of turning the ensemble into various buildings of different eras, from a psychiatric hospital to a romantic nobleman’s residence.

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Photo credits: Saulius Žiūra

Vilnius University


Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, the architectural ensemble that beautifully blends Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic, and Classical styles attracts not only knowledge-hungry students from all over the world but also filmmakers and TV series crews.

The current VU ensemble consists of 13 courtyards and 13 buildings, as well as St. John’s Church and the bell tower. Over the past decade, VU spaces have become one of the most popular shooting locations in the whole city. Over a dozen films and television series by Lithuanian and foreign companies were developed here, mostly historical dramas. The cinema-friendly ensemble of Vilnius University has already played the Vatican, Nazi Germany, the Russian Empire, Japan, Rome, and 19th-century Austria!

Vilnius University portrayed the latter fairly recently, in 2023, when the hugely popular series “Sisi,” telling the life story of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, was shot in the Lithuanian capital. Those who watched the series could see the central palace of Vilnius University many times in all three seasons of the series, as the large courtyard of VU played the part of the Hofburg

Palace—soldiers, everyday life of the palace, and even conflicts between the characters were shot here. This location is often chosen not only for its architectural characteristics but also for its wide perspective and the possibility of shooting a 360-degree view.

The unique environment of Vilnius University was also noticed by the US cable television network HBO. The oldest academic library in the Baltic States still operates in the beautiful premises dating back to the 16th century, and in the series “Catherine the Great,” it was briefly turned into the Council Chamber of the Russian Empire. Ancient maps and documents, flags adorned with ribbons, and beautiful candlesticks were brought here. The famous British actress Helen Mirren, winner of “Oscar” and two Golden Globes, played the title role in the critically-acclaimed series.

Photo credits: Saulius Žiūra
Photo credits: Armands Virbulis

All of the objects could be found on this map.