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EE travel guide: Surprise yourself in Vilnius

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What's there to see​

Doesnt take long to figure it out. Vilnius' OldTown, at 3.6 sq km, is one of the biggest ones in Europe. Despite suffered great destruction, nearly 2.000 buildings of highiest value, representing all of the major European architectual styles have survived in OldTown, nearly 3.000 in all of the city. It's uniqueness was prooved when Vilnius' OldTown was included into UNESCO World heritage list as a site of highiest cultural value in 1994. The Chaotic street network that didnt changed since 15th century, arch's, narrow cobblestone streets, with various kinds of music floating from every window. It's also the biggest Baroque city north of the Alps, where a guest can eassily get lost, thus experiancing a pleasure of unexpectedly discovering one o many stuning churches (27 in OldTown alone), a small quiet park or maybe a wildwater Vilnia river (from which the city's name was born), with cozy looking small bridges leading to Vilnius' montmartre district. The friendly, joyfull looking people who are always glad to help, would lead your way to one of many hills around, from which, a real life view would remain in your mind forever and every time you'd remember it, optimism and hapyness would overrun your heart. Beautifull architecture and nature, friendly people, unique atmosphere and delicious cuisine, has made every person, who spent even as few as a day or two in summer Vilnius, completly fall in love with it and everyone either visited Vilnius again or promissed themselves to do it as soon as possible.

Vilnius' OldTown... Or should i say atleast a bigger part of it.

Vilnius's fortifications

Defensive ring of Vilnius consisted of castle's of Trakai, Dubingiai, Senieji Trakai, Peninsulla, Lida, Kreva and Medininkai. There were 4 more castles in city itself - The Upper and Highier, used also as residence of dukes, Rokantiskiu and Kreivoji. In early 1500's, by order of Grand duke Aleksandras, Vilnius defensive wall was built in renaissance style. It was 6km long and 6m high wall, had 13 gates, 20 defensive towers and an artillery bastery. In early 1800's by order of Tsar of Russia, for reasons previously mentioned, fortifications were torn down, bricks sold out. The gates of dawn, artillery bastery and ~1km of wall survived to this day.

Artillery bastery

The Bastion is an original Renaissance fortification. It consists of a tower installed in the city wall, the underground gun ports and a corridor connecting them, which becomes a 48-metre long tunnel. The Bastion was built in the first half of the 16th century, and you are rewarded with a stunning view of the Old Town from its terrace.

Ausros vartai (The gates of dawn/Ostra Brama)

The Gates of Dawn is the only surviving gate of the original thirteen gates in the city wall that was built in 1514. This is a three-storied Renaissance building. The entry, with a draw bridge over the defensive moat, was in its first storey. From the side of the town, on the upper premises of the gate, a wooden chapel was erected. Following the reconstruction in 1829 the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn acquired the shape of the later Classical period. The sacred picture of the Holy Mother of God, which is thought to have miracle-working powers and which is one of the most significant Renaissance paintings in Lithuania, is stored in the Chapel. The picture was painted at the beginning of the 17th century by an unknown painter.

Renaissace interior is very rich. Altar and painting are claded with gold, rest of the chapel, with silver
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Academia et Universitas Vilnensis Societatis Jesu​

Pride of the city - The University of Vilnius, one of the oldest and most famous establishments of higher education in Eastern and Central Europe, was founded in 1579. Functioning for a long time as the only school of higher learning in Lithuania, it was a preserver of cultural and scientific traditions, and has played a significant part in the cultural life not only of Lithuania, but the neighboring countries as well. During more than four centuries of its existence, the University of Vilnius has seen periods of growth and decline, revival, and closure. The University is a unique witness to the history of the Lithuanian state.

In 1579, King Stephen Bathory's charter transformed the Jesuit college, founded in 1570, into an establishment of higher education, the transformation being confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII. Although being away from other European cultural centers, the University equaled other famous European Universities and had outstanding professors and students.

The old campus

The complex of University buildings extends over a whole block of the Old Town. Its original architecture attracts the visitor’s attention. The construction of the University buildings was carried on over the centuries under the changing influences of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical styles. The campus began to take shape in about 1570 in a city quarter belonging to the Bishop of Vilnius. By that time, the area had already been built up with brick houses. It later gradually expanded to the east and to the north, towards St.John’s church. Bounded by four streets , the campus is composed of 12 buildings, some of them having multiple structures, the Church of St.John, and the belfry. The buildings are arranged around 13 courtyards of different shape and size. At present the Rector’s Office, the Library, the Faculties of Philology, Philosophy, and History, as well as some interdisciplinary centers are situated in the old town.

1. Grand Courtyyard
2. Observatory Courtyard
3. Library Courtyard
4. M. K. Sarbievijus Courtyard
5. M. Daukša Courtyard
6. S. Daukantas Courtyard
7. Arcade Courtyard
8. L. Gucevičius Courtyard
9. A. Mickevičius Courtyard
10. S. Stanevičius Courtyard
11. K. Sirvydas Courtyard
12. Printing House Courtyard
13. Bursų (Hostel) Courtyard

Astronomical Observatory

The Astronomical Observatory was founded in 1753 and it was the fourth observatory in Europe and the oldest in Eastern Europe. The Observatory was established on the initiative of the astronomer and mathematician Tomas Zebrauskas(1714—1758) and support of benefactress E. Oginskaitė–Puzinienė. The Observatory attained its fame under the auspices of its former director Marcin Odlianicki Poczobut(1728—1810), the member of London Royal and Sorbonne Academies, rector of Vilnius University(1780—1799).

The Observatory was closed in 1882 by the tsarist government and many instruments were taken away to various museums, universities and offices of Russian empire.
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Interior of Vilnius university:

Lelevel hall

Smuglevicius hall


Profesor's hall

halls of Linguistic institutions

Bishop Baranauskas hall

Sarbievijus courtyard

Alumni courtyard

The Grand courtyard

The Church of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist

The Church was begun to be built just after Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity in 1387 and completed in 1426. The interior of the Church shows few signs of its Gothic predecessor. It owes its present Baroque form to when it was entirely remodelled by Johan Christoph Glaubitz in the mid-18th century. In the third decade of the 19th century a great part of the lavishly decorated Baroque interior was destroyed. A composition of ten altars of the presbyter, which is the only one of this kind in Lithuania and the Baltic States, draws attention of every visitor. The organ of the Church was the most famous in Lithuania. There are 18 sculptures on the central nave, 12 of which represent saint Johns.

The most magnificent are the St Anne and Oginskis Chapels. The Church abounds in monuments to Jeronim Stroinovski, Adam Mickiewicz, Antonio Edward Odinec, Ludwig Kondratowich – Vladislov Sirokomlė, Tadeusz Kosciuczko, Konstantinas Sirvydas, Simonas Daukantas and others. In the times of the Jesuit Academy professors and students used to pray, various performances were staged, disputes were held, dissertations were defended, Kings were solemnly received in the St Johns’ Church. Many traditions have been preserved till the present day. Today diplomas to graduates are awarded here, various concerts and festivals are held.

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Vilnius' churches: Gothic and Renaissance​

Church of St Nicholas

Church of St. Nickolas is the oldest survived building in Vilnius and Lithuania, dating back to 1320's. Church has preserved almost unchanged features of Gothic style. At the beginning of the 20th century this Church was the only in Vilnius to hold services in Lithuanian. At the same time it was the centre for Lithuanian culture.

A silver-plated picture of St Nicholas of the 16th century adorns the high altar. Also there are two sculptures in the Church: a polychrome-plated statue of St Ludwig of the Gothic period and a bronze bust of Vytautas the Great installed in 1930.

Church of St Francis and St Bernardino

The Church of St Francis and St Bernardino is one of the largest Gothic sacral buildings. In the 17th –18th centuries the Church acquired Renaissance and Baroque architectural features rendering it into a curious hybrid of styles. The Observant branch of the Franciscan Order established in Vilnius in the 15th century built a wooden church, which was later rebuilt into a brick one. Later the Church was renewed several times. In the Soviet times the Church was closed down and given to the Institute of Art. In 1994 the Franciscan friars returned to the Church.
The façade of the Church distinguish itself by Gothic tracery windows with Baroque scrolls. Above them there is a pediment with small octagonal towers on the sides and the fresco portraying The Crucifixion. The oldest part of the Church is the gothic presbytery. A slender octagonal bell tower adorns the Church. The interior of the Church is of great value. Crystal and netted Gothic vaults have survived in the side naves. The most intriguing feature of the interior is the Gothic polychromatic frescoes on the walls of the naves, which were discovered in 1981 and are still being restored after being under plaster for several hundred years. These are colourful figure compositions on the Biblical and hagiographic themes, with inscriptions in Gothic script somewhere, floral ornaments, heraldic symbols. This painting dates back to the 16th century and is considered to be unique. There are 11 altars in the Church, all of them are wooden, of late Baroque style, the colour of natural wood. The Church houses the oldest sculpture of The Crucifixion known in Lithuania, as well as two valuable tombstones – the Baroque tombstone of Petr Veselovski and the Renaissance tombstone of Stanislovas Radvila. The latter is the oldest professional memorial composition of round sculpture in Lithuania.

The Bernardino monastery was built at the same time as the Church. There was a noviciate, a seminary of the Order, a large library amassed, and a scriptorium. The Franciscan Order was famous for its preachers, and it also had its own craftsmen. When the monastery was closed down in 1864, the building was used as a barracks. In 1919 the Faculty of Art of the University, later the Institute of Art occupied it. It is currently used by the Academy of Arts.

Church of our Lady of the Assumption

The Franciscan Church is one of the oldest buildings in the capital, its history dates back to the 14th century. The church is Gothic, but in the 18th century it acquired Baroque forms. In 1812 the church was somewhat destroyed, it was made into a grain store. Later it was made into an archive. Currently it belongs to the Catholic Church and is being restored.

A statue of St Virgin Mary (The White Mother of God) was unveiled here recently, which is regarded to have miracle-working powers.

Church of St Ann

The Church of St Anne is one of the most beautiful and, perhaps, the most famous constructions in Vilnius. This is a late Gothic masterpiece, one of it's kind. It is the subject of a much-quoted remark, said to have been made by Napoleon when his army occupied Vilnius in 1812, that he would like to be able to place it in the palm of his hand and take it back with him to Paris.

This Church was built between 1495 and 1500. After a fire in 1564 the Church was rebuilt by the funds of D. Solikovski, Archbishop of Lvov, and the Radvilos. Over the years, the Church has been subject to a great many changes, however, its exterior has remained almost unchanged since the end of the 16th century. In 1580 main restoration works on the great Church were completed, temporary altars were installed. It took a long time to decorate the interior – up to the mid-17th century. At that time the side chapels of St Florion and St Michael, as well as the chapel of Chist’s Imprisonment, were built (1645-1647) in the churchyard, permanent altars were installed in the church. The high altar with a sculpture of The Crucifixion was built in 1614.

Church of St. Ann and Church of St. Francis and St. Bernardino

Church of St. Crosses

built in gothic style in early 15th century

Church of St. Bartholemew

Built in renaissance style in early 1600's century

interior was mostly destroyed though

Church of St Michael the Archangel

The Church of St Michael was built by the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Leonas Sapiega between 1594 and 1597 for a convent of Bernardine nuns, and also to serve as a family mausoleum. Its construction work was completed in about 1604. During the war with Moscow the Church was burned and plundered, however, it was restored between 1663 and 1673.

The adjoining bell tower was built in the 18th century. In tsarist times the Church was closed down, but returned to the Sapiega family in 1903 and restored through their efforts. Later the Church was repaired once again.
In 1956 the Church opened as the Museum of Architecture. The interior of the Church is various and of great interest. The early 17th-century marble altar and a few 17th-century tombstones have survived. The one commemorating Leonas Sapiega and his two wives is the largest memorial in Lithuania.

Church and the Bernardine monastery renaissance ensemble, which make a whole quarter in the OldTown is the only of such kind feature in Vilnius

Church of St. Stephan

Church was built in just 4 year between 1600-04 in Renaissance style in what was once a city suburb of Rudininkai. It was built on a place where victims of plague were beeing buried. Church is rarely visited by tourist because of it's remote location. It is also currently undergoing major renovation works, thus is closed.
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wow...beautiful presentation! :applause:
Vilnius' churches: Baroque and Classicism​

comming soon...

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Thank You for the guide - it's very interesting :cheers:
Vilnius' churches: Baroque and Classicism

Cathedral the Bassillica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav

Pearl of Classical architecture - crowning the life's work of Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius. Church's exterior is decorated by more than 40 sculptures and near 20 columns.

Interior delights with just as graceful proportions and lines as exterior does. The great number of art works from 16th-18th centuries would adorn even the greatest museums in Europe.

While chapel of St. Casimir is a whole other story. Chapel of patron saint of Lithuania (a short term King of Poland and Grand duke of Lithuania, before commiting his life entirely for God) is a baroque masterpiece like nothing else in this part of Europe.

It is thought that the first church was established in 1251 by Grand Duke Mindaugas, following his conversion. Many Grand Dukes of Lithuania were crowned and many of them are buried there. With the passing of time the cathedral had to be rebuilt several times due to fires, and was remodelled in more modern styles. In the 18th century the building took on its present form in the strict classical style. The Cathedral has more than ten chapels in their original form, which contain many historic and art monuments.
The St Casimir’s Chapel is the most significant one. In the fourth decade of the 20th century the Sovereigns Mausoleum, beneath St Casimir’s Chapel, was fitted out to hold human remains, and now contains the bones of Grand Duke Alexander Jogailaitis, and Elizabeth and Barbora, two of the wives of Sigismund Augustus. There is also the urn containing the heart of Grand Duke Vladoslav Vasa.
In another part of the crypt, an early fresco, The Crucifixion, was discovered only in 1985. Its date has been estimated as the end of the 14th century, and thus it is the oldest wall painting in the country. Painted in the fresco secco technique, it shows Christ, Mary and St John.

Evangelical church, early 1800's. Another great exmaple of heritage of Classical architecture in Vilnius.

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Church of St. Casimir

The Church was built by the Jesuits: work began on it in 1604, just two years after St Casimir had been canonised. It was dedicated to the memory of Saint Prince Casimir. The legend has it that as many as 700 people rolled the cornerstone from Antakalnis to the centre of the city. Today the stone can be still seen in the wall of the façade.
The Church was completed in about 1616, the interior was finished in 1618. The Church of St Casimir is one of the first Baroque churches in Vilnius. It is thought that Povilas Bokšta designed the church and Jonas Frankevičius performed works on it. It is important to note that in the 18th century, under supervision of Tomas Žebrauskas, the dome of several tiers with a tall lantern and a crown on its top, was built. This is the only dome of such a size in all former lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Later the Church was taken over by the Russian Orthodox Church, made into a cathedral, and rededicated to St Michael. The famous Russian writer Fiodor Dostojevski prayed in this Orthodox Church. In the first half of the 20th century the Church was returned to the Jesuits but during the Second World War it suffered greatly, and was closed. In 1961 it opened as a museum about atheism, and continued to be used as such until 1988. In 1989 the Church was returned to the Catholic church.

Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist

see the University.

Church of St. Catherine

Church was built in 1632. It was later reconstructed in 1703 and finally in 1743, when according to plan of Johan Christoph Glaubitz, the church received it's current look and stunning roccoco interior.

Church of All Saints

The Church was built between 1620 and 1630, it is of late Baroque style, so-called the Carmelite Baroque. Two wooden polychromatic statues of St Elijah and St Elizej, the first Carmelite hermits and initiators of the Carmelite friary, stood on the pediment of the Church. The large five-tier bell tower of was built next to the Church in 1743. In the same year a two-storied building was added on the ground floor of which the sacristy and on the first floor a library famous in the 18th century were installed. After the Church and the friary were closed down between 1832 and 1886 a large part of treasures of art were scattered. In 1904, on the initiative of Priest Čudovskis the Church was restored. During the restoration the wall painting, which was also in the basement of the Church, was badly damaged. In 1991, after the Church was returned to the Catholic Church, the shrine was renewed, some of its pictures were returned to it. In the Soviet times the Church was made into a folk art museum. Currently the Church is again returned to the Catholic Church and is open to visitors.

Church of St. Ignatius

The Church of St Ignatius was built between 1622 and 1647. Like other Jesuit churches in Lithuania, it was basilican, with a dome and two towers on both sides of the presbyter. As with most of the city’s churches, it suffered in the mid-18th century fires and was reconstructed under architect Tomas Žebrauskas. In Tsarist times the church was converted into a club of officers and was badly damaged. In 1925 it was returned to the Catholics and adapted for religious purposes. In the times of Soviet occupation it served as a warehouse of the Cinema Studio.
The Church has a smart main façade of the early Baroque.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

St Peter and Paul’s Church is a masterpiece of the 17th-century Baroque famous for its exceptional interior where one can see about 2,000 stucco figures. Legend has it that there was a temple of the pagan goddess Milda on this site. Once there was a wooden church there, which was destroyed during the time of wars with Moscow. The present Church was built by Hetman Mykolas Kazimieras Pacas who wanted to perpetuate Vilnius liberation from Russians. The Church acquired its present appearance in 1676, later it was adorned with stucco, frescoes. At the beginning of the 19th century its Rococo pulpit was made. To commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II to Lithuania and Vilnius, the square in front of the church was named after him.

more later...
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^^ Neo-baroque churches are a killer . Great pictures. Great city! :cheers:
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