A fortified wooden settlement existed on the site of the Grand Dukes’ Palace from the 4th to the 8th centuries. During the 13th and 14th centuries it was converted into a well-fortified castle with brick walls. At the end of the15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries, the Gothic-style castle of the Middle Ages was transformed into a luxurious Renaissance-style residence. During the 17th century, the palace was reconstructed in the early Baroque style and the rulers of Lithuania and Poland who lived there amassed large collections of famous artworks and disseminated new cultural ideas throughout the country. The political fates of not only Lithuania but also of all Central, Eastern, and Northern European countries were decided there. During the mid-17th century war with Moscow the palace was devastated, never rebuilt, and never again a residence for rulers. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, on the orders of the Tsarist administration, all except the eastern wing of the palace was torn down. The idea that the palace could be reconstructed came alive again at the end of the 20th century with the movement for Lithuanian independence. Beginning in 1987, very detailed and complex archaeological excavations began, which became the basis for the reconstruction of the palace. During 2000 and 2001 laws were passed by the Lithuanian Parliament and approved by the Lithuanian Government concerning the reconstruction of the palace and its uses. The actual reconstruction work began in 2002 and still goes on.