Biržai Fortress was built in 1575-1589 by the hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Krzysztof Radziwiłł “The Thunderbolt” (1547-1603). In 1625-1627, it was occupied by the Swedish army and destroyed. A second castle took almost 50 years to restore. The first castle resembled Italian castles, while the second castle was built in Dutch style. By 1682, the fortress palace, fortifications and 21 other buildings made a huge defensive complex.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries, Biržai, situated in the north of the country, became Lithuania’s main fortress in its wars with Sweden. The Polish-Lithuanian King Augustus II himself visited Biržai Castle, as well as the Russian tsars Peter I and Alexander I who came twice. In 1701, Polish-Lithuanian King Augustus II and Russian Tsar Peter I signed a treaty to unite their armies against the Swedes. However, on September 14, 1704 the fortress was destroyed for the second time by the Swedish army. It was only in 1988 that the fortress' representational palace was restored.
In 2001, the 42.5 meter fortress bridge was rebuilt based on plans by the architect Evaldas Purlys. Two years later, the roof tiles of the palace were changed. In 2008-2010, the project Strengthening Biržai Castle Walls and Foundations and Adapting the Castle for Cultural and Other Public Needs, was completed. This project was co-financed by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway according to the European Union (EU) funding rules. In 2010, restoration of the arsenal began sponsored by the EU structural funds and the local municipality. Restoration and research works on the fortress are ongoing.
In 1991, the museum became a member of the Association of Castles and Museums around the Baltic Sea. In 1995, a cooperation agreement was signed with the Lithuanian Evangelical Reformist Church. A similar treaty was signed with the Lithuanian Great Hetman Jonušas Radvila Training Regiment in Rukla in 2003. In 2009, the museum signed a cooperation agreement with the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus and the Nesvizh National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve.
The Center offers a wide range of activities and workshops. These include: wool felting, linen weaving, candle making, paper cutting and Lithuanian straw ornaments making. Aside from this, the Center offers traditionally prepared dishes, coarse wheat pancakes (blynai) and fish soup.
Most of the activities take place during summertime. All the times and the dates are announced on the museum website, its social media platform and local media.
Kirkilai Traditional Crafts Center is close to the observation tower.
Žolinės sq. 10
Tuesday- Saturay 8 am - 5 pm
We say thank you to our sponsors:
1. Ilona and Kęstutis Armonai
2. Doloresa and Jurijus Glebos
3. Laimutė and Dalius Jakubėnai
4. Asta and Romualdas Misevičiai
5. Viktoras Rinkevičius, the Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania
6. Audrys Šimas, the Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania
We also thank our EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteers:
1. Nikoloudia Marilena (2016–2017)
2. Sekulic Gorana (2016–2017)
3. Cięciwa Natalia (2017–2018)
4. Mendes Rita (2017–2018)