Vilnius is introduced in the Fall 2013 patch.
Musical Theme: European
Lying at the junction of two navigable rivers, the Vilnia and the Neris, some 194 miles from the Baltic, Vilnius was settled as a trading post deep in the woodlands of Lithuania. The town is first mentioned in written records in 1323 AD, when German Jews were invited to relocate to the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Duke Gediminas, who promised religious tolerance and commercial opportunities. Over the following decades under the duke and his sons the duchy expanded until it encompassed most of modern Lithuania, Belarus, the Ukraine, Transnistria, and portions of Poland and northern Russia. With the Union of Lublin in 1569, the city became an important mercantile center in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
During this period, Vilnius expanded dramatically. Migrants were welcomed by the authorities, and thousands of Slavs, Germans and Jews moved into the booming city. Polish kings and Lithuanian dukes undertook extensive building projects, not the least of which was fortification with extensive city walls and nine fortified gates. In 1579, King Stefan Bathory founded the institution that would evolve into the Vilniaus universitetas, the oldest university in the Baltic States, which quickly became one of the most important scientific and cultural centers in the Commonwealth. Guilds of several types were established, and the city served as the primary center for trade between Scandinavia and western Europe and the interior of Poland and northern Russia.
But the 17th century brought disaster. During the Russo-Polish War of 1654-1667, the city was captured by Tsarist troops, pillaged and burned and its population massacred. In 1710, an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed an estimated 35,000 citizens. A series of devastating fires destroyed much of the city during the first half of the 1700s. In 1795, the third partition of Poland saw Vilnius become part of the Russian Empire, where it remained until the Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty of 1920, when Lithuanian independence was recognized. However, in 1922 Poland annexed the region, and the city would be under nominal Polish rule until World War II, after which it was again occupied by Russian forces. Not until 1990, with the secession of the Lithuanian SSR from collapsing Soviet Russia, would Vilnius again be self-ruled, becoming the capital of modern Lithuania.