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50 Litų 1998, Lithuania

in Krause book Number: 61
Years of issue: 1998
Signatures: Lietuvos Banko Valdybos Pirmininkas: Reinoldijus Sarkinas (in office from 15.02.1996 till 15.04.2011)
Serie: 1997 - 2001 Issue
Specimen of: 1998
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 135 x 65
Printer: Giesecke und Devrient GmbH, Muenchen

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

50 Litų 1998




Jonas Basanavičius.


50 Litų 1998

Jonas Basanavičius

The engraving on banknote is, probably, made after this photo of Jonas Basanavičius. The date and author are unknown.

Jonas Basanavičius (23 November 1851 - 16 February 1927) was an activist and proponent of Lithuanian National Revival and founder of the first Lithuanian language newspaper "Aušra". He was one of the initiators and the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 1905 "Great Seimas of Vilnius". He was also the founder and chairman of the Lithuanian Scientific Society (1907). As a member of the Council of Lithuania, he was a signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania on February 16, 1918.

In 1873 Basanavičius went to Moscow to study history and archaeology but after a year changed to medicine. He was graduated in 1879 and spent most of the next 25 years practicing medicine in Bulgaria. He edited the first number of the important Lithuanian cultural and political magazine Aušra (“Dawn”), published 1883-86; it was printed in East Prussia and had to be smuggled into Lithuania because of the tsarist regime’s ban on the printing of Lithuanian in the Latin alphabet. Aušra significantly influenced the development of the Lithuanian national movement.

From 1905 Basanavičius lived in Vilnius. Considered to be the moral president of the nation, he was chairman of the Great Assembly in Vilnius that in 1905 demanded autonomy for Lithuania.

independence act

In 1917 he was president of the conference that elected him to the Lietuvos Taryba (Council of Lithuania), which on Feb. 16, 1918, proclaimed Lithuanian independence. Basanavičius’ founding of the Lithuanian Scientific Society in 1907 was an outstanding contribution to Lithuanian learning. For 20 years he was president of the society, editor of its journal, and organizer of research in archaeology and folklore. His many publications are largely collections of Lithuanian folklore. He also wrote several studies expounding his hypothesis that the Lithuanians were descendants of the Thraco-Phrygians.

Basanavičius participated in every major event leading to the independent Lithuanian state and is often given the unique informal honorific title of the "Patriarch of the Nation" (Lithuanian: tautos patriarchas) for his contributions. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Denominations in numerals are in top and bottom left corners, in center and bottom right corner. In words lower, on the left side.


50 Litų 1998

The Cathedral Square in Vilnius (Katedros aikštė) is the main square of the Vilnius Old Town, right in front of the neo-classical Vilnius Cathedral. It is a key location in city's public life, situated as it is at the crossing of the city's main streets and reflecting the city's diversity. Regularly held at this site are fairs and gatherings of townspeople, military parades, religious and official public events, attractions and large concerts, New Year’s salutes and exhibitions. It is not merely the most lively and important location in the city, but is also one of the most significant and widely known symbols of Lithuania.

Layout of the square as depicted on banknote.

Marked in numbers:

1. Vilnius Cathedral

2. Cathedral's Belfry

3. Gediminas Tower

4. Hill of Three Crosses

5. Monument to Grand Duke Gediminas

6. Location where Royal Palace is being reconstructed (So the view is somewhat outdated).


1) The Cathedral of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika, Polish: Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława Biskupa i św. Władysława) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. Dedicated to Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, the church is the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania.

The coronations of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania took place within its confines. Inside its crypts and catacombs are buried many famous people from Lithuanian and Polish history including Vytautas (1430), his wife Anna (1418), his brother Sigismund (Žygimantas) (1440), his cousin Švitrigaila (1452), Saint Casimir (1484), Alexander Jagiellon (1506), and two wives of Sigismund II Augustus: Elisabeth of Habsburg (1545) and Barbara Radziwiłł (1551). The heart of the Polish-Lithuanian king Władysław IV Vasa was buried there upon his death, although the rest of his body is buried at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.

Katedros aikštėKatedros aikštėKatedros aikštė

Inside, there are more than forty works of art dating from the XVI through 19th centuries, including frescoes and paintings of various sizes. During the restoration of the Cathedral, the altars of a presumed pagan temple and the original floor, laid during the reign of King Mindaugas, were uncovered. In addition, the remains of the cathedral built in 1387 were also located. A fresco dating from the end of the 14th century, the oldest known fresco in Lithuania, was found on the wall of one of the cathedral's underground chapels.

During the Soviet regime initially cathedral was converted into a warehouse. Masses were celebrated again starting in 1985, although the cathedral was still officially called "The Gallery of Images" at that time. In 1989, its status as a cathedral was restored.

2) One of the most distinctive features of the square is the Cathedral's bell tower, situated several yards from the cathedral itself, a thing uncommon outside of Italy. According to many scholars, the tower was in fact one of the towers of the ancient city walls of the mediaeval Lower Castle that once stood near the modern square. According to another version, not supported by modern historians, the base of the tower was in fact a small pagan temple, demolished and then turned into the bell tower. Regardless of its origins, the lower parts of the tower are mediaeval, with several small loop-holes preserved. Its oldest underground square section was built in the XIII century on the bottom of the old riverbed. Upper parts of the tower were added in the 18th century while the neo-classical finish was added in the XIX century, during the reconstruction of the cathedral.

Gedimino pilies bokštas

3) Gediminas' Tower (Gedimino pilies bokštas) is the remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The first fortifications were built of wood by Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Gediminas. Later the first brick castle was completed in 1409 by Grand Duke Vytautas. Third floor tower was rebuilt in 1930, by Polish architect Jan Borowski. Some remnants of the old castle have been restored, guided by archeological research.

Katedros aikštė

It is possible to climb to the top of the hill on foot or by taking a funicular. The tower houses an exposition of archeologic findings from the hill and the surrounding areas. It is also an excellent vantage point, from where the panorama of Vilnius Old Town can be admired.

Gediminas Tower is an important state and historic symbol of the city of Vilnius and of Lithuania itself. It is depicted on the national currency, the litas, and is mentioned in numerous Lithuanian patriotic poems and folk songs. The Flag of Lithuania was re-hoisted atop the tower on October 7, 1988, during the independence movement that was finalized by the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania on March 11, 1990. A reconstruction of the Royal Palace of Lithuania was completed in 2009, and is located near the base of the hill upon which Gediminas' Tower stands.

Trijų Kryžių Kalnas

4) Three Crosses (Trys kryžiai) is a monument in Vilnius, Lithuania, designed by Polish-Lithuanian architect and sculptor Antoni Wiwulski in 1916. It was torn down in 1950 by order of the Soviet Union authorities. A new monument designed by Henrikas Šilgalis was erected in its place in 1989.

It was constructed in Kalnai Park on the Hill of Three Crosses (alternatively, the Bleak Hill Lithuanian: Plikasis kalnas) in 1916, in the place where the three wooden crosses used to stand at least since 1636. The wooden crosses collapsed in 1869 and tsarist authorities did not allow for them to be rebuilt. The new monument by Antoni Wiwulski was covertly erected in 1916. It was blown up under the order of the Soviet Government on 30 May 1950. Eventually the crosses were restored and consecrated on 14 June 1989.

Katedros aikštė

The Three Crosses are constructed of concrete, painted in white. The rebuilt crosses now are 1.8 metres (5 ft. 11 in.) higher than those of 1916. The fractured remains of original crosses are on display on an elevation several meters below. A spectacular panorama of the Vilnius Old Town can be observed from top of the hill.

The origins of the monument are explained in a fictitious legend, written in the Bychowiec Chronicle among others, according to which seven Franciscan monks, who were invited to Vilnius from Podolia by Petras Goštautas, were tortured to death (crucified and thrown into the Vilnia River, according to some sources) on 4 March 1333 by local pagan inhabitants. The chapel was erected on the spot where they died and the crosses were added later on.

The factual background of the legend is a story regarding two murdered Franciscan friars who came to Vilnius to spread Christianity, that was first presented in Chronica XXIV Generalium, written before 1369. The events probably took place around 1340, therefore some eyewitnesses could still have been alive. According to the story, Franciscan friar's Ulrich's preaching angered townspeople. He and his companion Martin were seized and brought before Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, who ordered the friars killed. Ulrich was tortured and his body tossed into the river. Martin's body was rescued by Gediminas' sister, an Orthodox nun. She buried Martin in a monastery she lived in.

The true purpose of building Three Crosses on the hill is still unknown. One of the suggestions is that they were erected in the celebration of granting Magdeburg rights to the city.


5) The monument to Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas was created by the Lithuanian American Vytautas Kašuba and Mindaugas Šnipas.

Besides being the founder of Vilnius and Trakai, Gediminas was also one of the most famous rulers of Lithuania. His fame can only be compared to the fame of his grandson Vytautas the Great.

Gediminas lived between 1275 and 1341 and ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for 25 years. He moved the capital of Lithuania from Trakai to Vilnius. He was better known as a diplomat who attracted the attention of Europe to Lithuania than as a military chief. It was in the letters of Gediminas to Western Europe that the name of Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1323. This year is considered to be the year of the founding of Vilnius.

Gediminas succeeded in expanding the state borders and the sphere of influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania far to the east and south. Under the rule of Gediminas, Vitebsk and Volyn were annexed while the lands of Kievan Rus fell into a vassal dependence of the Duchy. On their trip west, the army of Gediminas even approached Berlin. The area of the Lithuanian state doubled during the times of Gediminas.

Katedros aikštė

Other notable feature of the square is the monument to Gediminas, one of the first rulers of Lithuania, by Vytautas Kašuba, uncovered in 1996. Interestingly, the bronze used for the monument was donated by Lithuanian border guards who confiscated it on the border. The marble sockle was a gift of the government of Ukraine, while the sculpture itself was cast free of charge in Tallinn. Nearby is a magical place, a small stone marking the place where, according to a local urban legend, the human chain of Baltic Way was started linking Vilnius with Riga and Tallinn, an event that marked the beginning of national liberation of the Baltic States. It is said that if a person steps on this stone and turns around three times, his or her wish will be granted.

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

6) The reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the former political, diplomatic, cultural center of the State, was one of the most famous in Europe in the XV-XVII centures and was demolished in the beginning of the XIX century. This Palace is excellent located just in the heart of Vilnius, within the confines of Lower Castle. Nowadays the Gothic, Renaissance and Early Baroque halls of this multi-functional Museum are ideally applicable to organize a different size and content public events, official visits, conferences, meetings, seminars, concerts, performances, receptions and other.

Part of the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes in Vilnius Lower Castle officially transferred to the Museum. In the reconstructed Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania there are two exhibition tour routes directly related to the historical functions of this residence. The first tour will show the historical and architectural develop ment of the palace by highlighting the ancient ruins still in place, excavated artifacts and by using models and iconographic materials. The second tour route will bring the visitors into the ceremonial halls, which have been reconstructed in such a way as to show the evolution of architectural styles - from the late Gothic to the Renaissance to the early Baroque. (Vilnius Tourism)

coat Lithuania

The coat of arms is on the top.

The coat of arms of Lithuania, consisting of an armour-clad knight on horseback holding an olden sword and shield, is also known as Vytis ("the Chaser"). The Lithuanian coat of arms is one of the oldest national coats of arms in Europe. It is one of very few containing symbolism adopted from ducal portrait seals rather than from coats of arms of dynasties, which is the case for most European countries.

Article 15 of the Constitution of Lithuania, approved by national referendum in 1992, stipulates, "The Coat of Arms of the State shall be a white Vytis on a red field". Heraldic shield features the field Gules (red) with an armoured knight on a horse salient Argent (white). The knight is holding in his dexter hand a sword Argent above his head. A shield Azure hangs on the sinister shoulder of the knight with a double cross Or (yellow) on it. The horse saddle, straps, and belts are Azure. The hilt of the sword and the fastening of the sheath, the stirrups, the curb bits of the bridle, the horseshoes, as well as the decoration of the harness, are Or (gold).

The blazon is the following:

Gules, a knight armed cap-à-pie mounted on a horse salient argent, brandishing a sword proper and maintaining a shield azure charged with a cross of Lorraine Or.

Denominations in numerals are in bottom left corner, top and bottom right corner. In lower center in words.


Designer: Giedrius Jonaitis.

Diving security thread.


I am in Vilnius, 30 December 2021.