Philology studies were part of the University curriculum from the very beginning in the year 1570. Since the establishment of Vilnius University students were being taught Latin grammar, stylistics, rhetoric, writing verse and epigrams in Latin, as well as Ancient Greek and even Hebrew. Even though the Faculty of Philology is mentioned first time only in 1944, philological and language studies were attracting students since the Jesuits College days and so forth until it was reorganized into University.
Lithuanian language, which was thought to be only colloquial in XVII century, neglected by Latin, Polish, and Ruthenian in official documents, gained a specific attention in Vilnius University. An alumnus, Lithuanian linguist and writer Konstantinas Sirvydas (1579–1631) prepared and published first Lithuanian language dictionary “Dictionary of Three Languages”, grounding basis for studies of Lithuanian lexicology and linguistics.
In 1803, literature studies received its deserved academic status with the new Statute of Imperatorial University of Vilnius, in which there were to be 4 faculties: Physics-Mathematics, Medicine, Moral and Political Sciences, and Literature and Liberal Arts. The University played a very important role in the development of Lithuanian national culture by bringing up the great personalities of the 19th century: Simonas Daukantas, Simonas Stanevičius, Adam Mickiewicz and others. It was here, where in 1817 Philomathes created their secret educational society with interruptions active until nowadays.
Nevertheless, Lithuanian studies and philology courses began to be taught only a century later, after Declaration of Independence of Lithuania. In 1919, in a new Humanitarian faculty prof J. Otrębski started the first courses of Lithuanian grammar, interpreting “Postilė” of Mikalojus Daukša, Lithuanian dialectology, and Baltic studies.
Only a few years later the faculty was forced to move to Kaunas where lectures were read by Jonas Jablonskis, Mykolas Biržiška, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius, Balys Sruoga, and other prominent Lithuanians. It took nearly twenty years, but in 1939 the Faculty was re-opened in Vilnius and Lithuanian symbolism writer Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas was appointed as the dean of Humanitarian faculty, which soon took the name of Faculty of History and Philology.
As a result of the reorganization of the Faculty of History and Philology in 1968, the Faculty of Philology was created. Even though the post-war conditions were not the most favourable, the teaching and research staff gained international recognition for the work carried out in the field of Baltic studies, phonology, semiotics, and linguistics.
Time and various wars changed the University’s ensemble throughout the ages. Many buildings of nowadays ensemble have been bought by or donated to the University during almost seven centuries of academic activities, some built on top of previous sites of taverns or stables. This extensive process allowed to form the current University’ ensemble and courtyards of different architectural styles. Visitors can visit 13 charming University courtyards most of which are located in the Faculty of Philology.