Vilnius University (Lithuanian: Vilniaus universitetas; former names exist) is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Northern Europe. It is the largest university in Lithuania.
The university was founded in 1579 as the Jesuit Academy (College) of Vilnius by Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, Stephen Báthory. It was the third oldest university (after the Cracow Academy and the Albertina) in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the aftermath of the Third Partition of Poland (1795) and the November Uprising (1830–1831), the university was closed down and suspended its operation until 1919. In the aftermath of World War I the university saw failed attempts to restart it by Lithuania (December 1918) and invading Soviet forces (March 1919). It finally resumed operations as Stefan Batory University in Poland (August 1919), a period followed by another Soviet occupation in 1920, and the less than two-years of the Republic of Central Lithuania, incorporated into Poland in 1922.
Following Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, the university was briefly administered by the Lithuanian authorities (from October 1939), and then after Soviet annexation of Lithuania (June 1940), punctuated by a period of German occupation after German invasion of the Soviet Union (1941–1944), administrated as Vilnius State University by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1945 the Polish community of students and scholars of Stefan Batory University was transferred to Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. After Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it resumed its status as one of the prominent universities in Lithuania.
The wide-ranging Vilnius University ensemble represents all major architectural styles that predominated in Lithuania: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism.