The capital was first mentioned in the written sources of the 12th century. And in 1323 Vilnius was named the city.
Throughout a couple of centuries it became a constantly growing and developing city because in 1579 the university was established here. It was the first university of this type in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania but it soon developed into an important scientific and cultural centre of Europe. Of course, political, economic and social life was also in full swing here. This is proved by the statutes issued in the 16th century. By the way, the last of them was in force until the 19th century.
Just like all medieval towns, Vilnius was developing around the Town Hall. The central Pilies Street linked the governors’ palace and the Town Hall. Other streets, winding like rivulets in the spring, made their way between the palaces of feudal lords and landlords, churches, shops and craftsmen workrooms. Narrow, curved streets and small cosy courtyards developed to the radial layout of the medieval Vilnius.
Rapidly developing Vilnius was open for foreigners coming both from the east and the west. Because of that, strong communities of Poles, Russians, Jews, Germans, Karaimes, etc. began to form here. Each of them made their contribution to the formation of the city: at that time crafts, trade and science were prospering in Vilnius. The city was developing rapidly and at the beginning of the 19th century it was the third largest town in the region of Eastern Europe. Only Moscow and St. Petersburg were larger.