The city of Vilnius was founded by Duke Gediminas, who moved the Lithuanian capital here during the Middle Ages. At that time several major churches were built to replace pagan temples. After the merger with Poland, Vilnius was no longer a major national city, and its development slowed down. It became a small provincial town after it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. After regaining independence after World War I Vilnius became the capital of Lithuania. However it was taken over by Poland in 1920 and given back to Lithuania by USSR in 1939. After World War II Vilnius was the capital city of Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania. The city expanded dramatically during the Soviet period both in terms of territory and population, a number of residential districts was built. After 1990, as Lithuania regained independence and the USSR collapsed, Vilnius is the capital of independent Lithuania again.
The Soviet government built the Vilnius TV Tower (still the highest structure in Lithuania), Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, and the Press House. However, under the USSR several churches were demolished. After independence, high rise buildings were forbidden for many years by architects because they wanted to save Vilnius as the last European capital without high-rises. Furthermore land values were not high enough to sustain tall buildings. Today high-rises are allowed in two zones - New City Centre and Western Centre.