The Mysterious Siesikai Castle

A “new” old place to visit

Siesikai Castle is located near the town of the same name in the Ukmergė district of Lithuania. The castle on Siesikai Lake was built in 1492-1517 by Gabrielius Daumantas-Siesickis in the Renaissance style. The builder’s heirs were known as Daumantai, also called Siesicki, and had given their family name to the nearby town

It is the only surviving fortified Renaissance-style residential castle in Lithuania. The arrowslits in the walls, deep moats and ramparts were clearly once used for defense against attackers. With time, the castle took on more Baroque and neoclassical features, with much attention to floors, ceilings, proporations and the harmony of architectural elements, and many frescoes.

From the late 17th to early 18th centuries, Mykolas Daumantas Siesickis was the owner of the castle. It was severely damaged in the early 1800’s by attacking Swedes. In 1713, after Mykolas’ death, the estate was inherited by his daughter, who married Mykolas Antanas Radvila. It was neglected by the Radvila family and in 1746 was sold to Konstantinas Daugėla of Ukmergė. His son Dominykas Daugėla reconstructed the castle in the mid-1800’s, bringing in neoclassical elements. It was known for its collections of paintings, weapons, silver and porcelain as well as manuscripts. The Daugėla family lived there until the Soviets nationalized the property in 1940. After World War II it was used as a school, and later as a warehouse.

In 1992 the estate was declared an archeological, historical, architectural cultural heritage site. Today, the entire first floor of the castle has been restored, and research and further restoration work continues on the second floor. The estate is now part of the Ukmergė Ethnographic Museum.

Unique features of the castle include unusually shaped floor tiles, not found anywhere else in Lithuania or Poland, only in Hungary and Romania. On the second floor of the castle the windows and doors are positioned so that at the winter solstice, the sun lights up the chapel doors; at the summer solstice, a purple ray shines on the entrance to the main hall for ten minutes at sunset.

Finally, the mystique of the castle is enhanced by a legend, claiming that Halška, wife of one of the Daumantas Dukes, fell in love with a foreign knight, Astikas. On moonlit nights the Duchess would hurry to the lake to meet her lover, but her infidelity was discovered in by the Duke, who had Astikas cut into pieces and his wife buried in the walls of the tower. Proof of the legend may be seen in two of the castle frescoes: one portraying an axe and a severed hand beside a naked man, another – a kneeling, handcuffed, half-clad beauty.