VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened an exhibition featuring three letters of Grand Duke Gediminas, loaned from Germany, at Vilnius University on Tuesday.
The Curriculum Vilnae exhibition "displays a unique historical treasure – an authentic document originating from the times of Gediminas, which contains copies of three letters written by the Lithuanian ruler that were sent from the capital of Lithuania to Europe precisely seven centuries ago, on May 26, 1323", Nauseda's office said in a press release.
"Due to wars, occupations, and other hardships, many of our historical sources and cultural heritage treasures were lost or scattered. Not a single original letter sent from Vilnius to Europe by Gediminas has survived," it quoted the Lithuanian president as saying.
"Therefore, we highly value this very special gift from Germany – the opportunity to admire the original 14th-century parchment preserved in the archives in Berlin, which contains the texts of Gediminas' letters addressed to contemporaries in Germany," he said.
Seven hundred years ago, Gediminas reached out to merchants and craftsmen in German cities, to the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries, and to the whole of Christian Europe, inviting people to come to Lithuania, settle here safely, engage in economic activities, and contribute to the prosperity of the country.
His letter of January 25, 1323 contains the first known mention of Vilnius as a city and the capital of Lithuania.