Lithuanian attractions

Churches in Vilnius

Bernardine Church & Monastery (Bernardinų Bažnyčia ir Vienuolynas)
Once forming part of the city’s original defensive walls and constructed on the site of an earlier wooden church dating from the middle of the 15th century at the behest of an order of Bernardine monks. The current vast Gothic church with Baroque and Renaissance additions dates from 16th century.
As the old photographs on display show, the church interior was truly breathtaking before the Soviet authorities took control of the building. Returned to the Bernardine monks soon after independence, a mammoth restoration project continues to this day. Current highlights include 14 magnificent rococo altars and the oldest known crucifix in the country, dating from the 15th century. The neighboring monastery is the oldest part of the ensemble. Once famed for its extensive library and independent-minded monks, the monastery was closed soon after the failed Uprising of 1863 and turned into a barracks for tsarist troops before falling into the hands of the city’s Art Academy at the end of WWI.
Address: Maironio str. 8

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Cathedral Basilica (Vilniaus Arkikatedra Bazilika)
The most important Catholic building in Lithuania, Vilnius Cathedral first built in 1251 by a newly converted Grand Duke Mindaugas on the site of a supposed pagan temple.
After Mindaugas’ death in 1263 the church was given back to the Catholic Church on the country’s official conversion to Christianity in 1387. The current building dates to around 1419, with countless modifications and additions made after that. Its present Neo Classical form is largely down to the work of the Lithuania’s first true architect, Laurynas Stuoka Gucevičius. The rather plain nave betrays eleven chapels, among them the must see High Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir, Lithuania’s patron saint. It is one of the country’s national treasures. The three statues of St. Stanislaus, Helena and Casimir on the roof are representing Poland, Russia and Lithuania. In 1950 the building was confiscated by Soviets. Spending several years as an art gallery and even mooted as a car repair workshop at one time, the Cathedral was returned to the Catholic Church in 1988. The standing bell tower, a popular contemporary meeting place, was originally part of one of the gates in the city’s defensive wall. It has been added to several times over the centuries which gives it its peculiar shape.
Address: Katedros str.1

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St. Anne’s Church (Šv. Onos Bažnyčia)
Unquestionably one of the city’s most famous landmarks is St. Anne’s Church. The history of it starts with the alleged construction in the 14th century of a wooden house of worship on this spot in honor of Ona, the wife of Vytautas the Great.
The first historical records of a church here date from 1394, although the current Gothic masterpiece is believed to have been built between 1495 and 1500 to a design by the Bohemian architect Benedikt Rejt (1453-1534). Unlike other historical churches in Vilnius, St. Anne’s has managed to escape the ravages of time almost unscathed and is arguably the least changed of them all. Composed of 33 different styles of brick assembled into a delicate and intricate whole, the effect is simply quite stunning. The interior is surprisingly free of ostentation, although this is hardly needed due to the spectacular design of the structure. The free standing bell tower has nothing to do with the original design, being built only in 1873. A visiting Emperor Napoleon in 1812 famously if somewhat apocryphally noted he’d like to take the building back to Paris in the palm of his hand.
Address: Maironio str. 8

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St. Peter & Pauls’ Church (Šv. Petro ir Povilo Bažnyčia)
Believed to have been built on the site of worship to Milda, the pagan goddess of love. This breathtaking Late Baroque masterpiece was commissioned to celebrate victory over the Russians in 1668 by Michael Casimir Pac, the Grand Hetman of the Lithuanian armies.
Financed by two of Pac’s cousins and completed under several master craftsmen, the rather plain façade betrays an interior by Giovanni Pietro Perti and Giovanni Maria Galli that’s quite simply out of this world. Containing over 2,000 astonishing stucco moldings representing miscellaneous religious and mythological scenes. Of equal magnificence are the 20th century altar containing a wooden figure of Christ, Antakalnio Jėzus (Jesus of Antakalnis) which features real human hair brought from Rome in 1700 and the Latvian chandelier made of brass and glass beads and dating from 1905.

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Information from: http://www.inyourpocket.com