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Old August 18th, 2005, 01:03 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Vilnius
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Churches of Vilnius, part 1

i liked alot Jacek's and Phobos threads about churches of Krakow, Lisbon and Porto (although in some places i missed some details of those churches), so i decided to make thread with churches from Vilnius (some with very few pictures and details, only because those are very little known, even here)

Vilnius Cathedral the Basillica

Standing at the foot of Gediminas hill, Vilnius Cathedral is Lithuania's spiritual and political centre. It is thought that in pagan times this was the location of an altar, an eternal fire, or even a temple to Perkūnas. King Mindaugas built the original cathedral in 1251 after his conversion to Christianity. In 1387, on the occasion of the official conversion of the whole of Lithuania to Christianity, a gothic style cathedral was built. The coronation ceremonies of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania from Vytautas to Žygimantas Augustas took place there. Due to fires, wars, and unstable ground, the Cathedral was rebuilt more than once. As a result, gothic, renaissance, and baroque styles are reflected in its architectural history.

The most beautiful part of the Cathedral, the baroque chapel of St. Casimir, was built in 1623 - 1636 at the initiative of King Sigismundus Vasa. The chapel contains a unique 18th century goblet-shaped pulpit and 18th century silver-plated statues of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Kings of Poland. After the last reconstruction was performed according to the design of Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius, the church acquired the strict quadrangular shape favoured by French classicism. The Cathedral was the most monumental building with the purest classical style in the entire territory of the Polish-Lithuanian state (Rzeczpospolita). Now, a tall portico with 6 Doric columns and sculptures by the Italian sculptor, T. Righi, which stand in the niches, decorate the main fasade of the Cathedral. The tympanum portrays the sacrifice of Noah.

The interior of the Cathedral is also very rich: there are more than 40 artworks from the 16th - 19th centuries inside, both frescoes and small and large pictures. A museum, with an exposition reflecting the history of the building from the pagan temple until the present day, is located in the Cathedral's catacombs. During the restoration of the Cathedral, the very first floor, laid in the days of Mindaugas, was found in addition to the remains of the cathedral built in 1387, the altars of a pagan temple, and other archaeological finds. A fresco dated to the end of the 14th century, the oldest known fresco in Lithuania, was found on the wall of one of the underground chapels.

The Cathedral's bell tower (57 m or 187 ft) was built atop a Lower Castle defensive tower. Its oldest underground square section was even built in the 13th century on the bottom of the old riverbed. The bell tower acquired its present appearance after the 1801 reconstruction.

cathedral before reconstructions

from this pic you can see how big it is

picture from gediminas avenue

St. Casimir chapel with statues of polish kings and lithuanian grand dukes

the dome

St. Nicholas' church

This is the oldest remaining house of worship in Lithuania with a churchyard fence. It was built in the 14th century. Grand Duke Gediminas invited traders and artisans to Vilnius and granted them many privileges and freedom of religion. After the traders, Franciscan monks also arrived and built their own church.

This gothic red brick building is modest and simple but cosy and harmonious. The church's vault, supported on four octagonal columns, is worthy of attention. The church has three altars. The high altar has a 16th century silver-encrusted picture of St. Nicholas. The inner space of the church is low and continuous; only a sharp triumphal arch divides the presbytery.

The sacristy, topped with a belfry, is nestled against the presbytery. The churchyard fence and gates were built at the beginning of the 19th century. Semi circular arched niches divide the redbrick wall on both sides at uniform intervals.


statue of Vytautas the Great

St. Casimir's church

The dome of the St. Casimir's Church and the Jogailaitis family crown on top of it are one of the dominating structures in the panorama of the Old Town. This was the very first baroque church in Lithuania, which the Jesuits built during 1604-1618 in memory of Saint Prince Casimir and with the support of the Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, Leonas Sapiega.

St. Casimir's Church is one of the earliest, classic baroque structures in the city. It was designed after a famous foremost baroque church in Rome. In the middle of the 18th century during the reconstruction of the church, a several-tiered dome with the high lantern surmounted by a crown was built. This is the only such large and impressive dome in the entire lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The interior was made extraordinarily ornate during the reconstruction.

In 1812, Napoleon's army damaged the church. After the uprising of 1830 - 1831, it was turned into an Orthodox church and unsuccessfully reconstructed. During 1864 - 1868, the Cathedral of St. Michael was installed in it according to the design of the architect, N. Tchiagin. In 1917, St. Casimir's Church was at last returned to the Catholics but was again damaged during World War II and was closed. In 1961, it was adapted to the needs of a Museum of Atheism. Later the museum was abolished and the church returned to the believers again.

An exceptional feature of the interior is the wonderfully organised space. The church is decorated with three decorative and ornate late baroque style altars, which were created by T. Žebrauskas in 1749 - 1755. 17th century frescos have survived in the basement. The construction of the monastery dates back to 1604 - 1615. This had a library and a hospital and many famous Jesuits used to live there. The first Lithuanian gymnasium of Vilnius (1915 - 1919), later, A. Vienuolis Secondary School, operated within these buildings.

main altar

side altars

and second side altar

The Church of Jesus the King and the Trinitarian Friary

The Church of Jesus the King or the Trinitarian Church is located behind the former Sapiega family mansion. The church was built during 1694-1717 through the efforts of Kazimieras Sapiega, the Voivode of Vilnius and the Hetman of Lithuania. The Friary built for the Trinitarians is located nearby. The church was built in the baroque style. Above the great entrance door is a relief portraying an angel holding a Trinitarian and a prisoner ransomed by him.

interior before russian reconstruction to orthodox, some detailes were left

The Evangelical Lutheran Church

The first Evangelical church (Kirche) in this location was built in 1555 at the initiative of the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Mikalojus Radvila Juodasis. The church is small and modest with an ornate high altar created by the architect, J. K. Glaubitz. Atop the 19th century tower is a high tin-plated spire. The height of the bell tower is 30 m (91 ft), church is built in Vokieciu (german) street, where Vilnius german population used to live.

from back

entrance from german street

The Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit

The church and the Orthodox monastery were built in this location by the brotherhood of the Holy Trinity in 1567. The brick church was erected in 1638 and reconstructed and decorated in the rococo style by the architect, J. K. Glaubitz, during 1749 - 1753. The simple massive bell tower adds to the calm and symmetric exterior of the church with its two early baroque towers and high (49 m or 161 ft) dome. Inside the building, there is a great deal of ornate décor from the 18th century. The wooden baroque iconostas, which was created in the late baroque style by J. K. Glaubitz, is especially valuable. The church's vaulting is adorned with a big copula and the fasade by two small towers. In 1826 - 1851, an underground crypt was installed under the iconostas for the burial of the remains of Saints Jonas, Eustchijus, and Antanas, who were the courtiers of Algirdas. At the initiative of Muravyov, the church was reconstructed: the dome was rebuilt and the fasade changed significantly. It has reached our time almost unchanged from that date; after entering through the neo-Byzantine style gates, every visitor is greeted by the church, monastery, and nunnery complex.

from bird's eye

the gate



and this is really creapy
three saints Anthony, Ivan and Eustacius, or i should say their bodies (they are lying there for some century's now)

Church of St. Bartholomew
16th century

The Gates of Dawn chapel

The Gates of Dawn are one of the symbols of the city of Vilnius. These gates are a famous Catholic shrine not only in the whole of Lithuania but also abroad. Built on the road to the city of Medininkai and originally called the Medininkai gates, they were one of the original five gates of Vilnius built together with the city wall. The three-tiered gates stand in the southern part of the Old Town, open onto M. Daukša Street, and are connected to a surviving section of the defensive wall.

The building's unique renaissance attic is decorated with a décor characteristic of that style. The main fasade of the gates is adorned with gryphons bearing the arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Beside it to the east stands part of the city wall. This is the longest section of all those remaining.

The picture of the Mother of Mercy of the Gates of Dawn is well known among Catholics worldwide. The image of the Virgin Mary, covered with gold by an unknown 17th century goldsmith, has the features of both the gothic style and icon painting. Painted with tempera on oak boards, it was later re-painted with oil paints

the painting

end of part 1
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Old August 18th, 2005, 03:11 AM   #2
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Vilnius has very nice churches,especially the baroque ones.
Part 2 please!
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Old August 18th, 2005, 04:28 AM   #3
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Very nice churches indeed.
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Old August 18th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #4
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very interesting thread
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Old August 18th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #5
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beautiful churches!!
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