VILNIUS - JUNE 2008
The last post took care of the Vilnius cathedral and surroundings; this one deals with temples in Old Town...
"CHAPEL OF THE GATE OF DAWN - This shrine is one of the most visited in Lithuania, not only by residents but also by pilgrims from abroad, as the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel is said to have miracle-working powers"
"VILNIUS MADONNA - The picture, copied in other countries, was painted in 17th century, in tempera on oak boards, later repainted in oil"
"HOLY SPIRIT - This late baroque church, successor of one existing already in the times of Gediminas, is one of the oldest in Vilnius. Built by Grand Duke Vytautas at the beginning of the 15th century, the church was later given to the Dominicans. Today it is a parish church of the city’s Polish community"
"INSIDE - The interior of the church, decorated in Rococo style with faux marble, stucco, frescoes and paintings, is one of the most valuable in Lithuania, including 45 paintings, which are listed as monuments"
"ST. THERESA - One of the earliest Baroque churches in Vilnius, it was built between 1633 and 1650 using sandstone, granite and marble imported from Sweden"
"ARCH HOLY TRINITY - The 18th century gate to the Basilian monastery and to the cube-shaped Holy Trinity Church is topped with a Holy Trinity composition"
"ST. CASIMIR - One of the first Baroque churches in Vilnius, it was built by the Jesuits from 1604 through 1618, when its interior was finished. In the 18th century the dome (the only one of such size in all former lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania), with a tall lantern and a crown on its top, was built. Later the church was turned into a Russian Orthodox church, where Dostoyevsky prayed"
"INTERIOR - Turned into a Museum of Atheism during the Soviet period, it was returned to the cult in 1988"
"ST. MICHAEL - Built by Leonas Sapiega between 1594 and 1604 for a convent of Bernardine nuns and also to serve as a family mausoleum, the Church was burned during the war with Moscow. Restored between 1663 and 1673, the belfry was built in the 18th century. In 1956 the Church opened as a Museum of Architecture"
"CAMPANILE - Sts. Johns' is the tallest bell tower and one of the highest (68m) buildings in the Old Town of Vilnius"
"STS. JOHNS - The Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist was completed in 1426 as a Gothic building. In 1571 the church was transferred to the Jesuits to become part of the Vilnius University. During its life, it has seen masses, student protests, theatre performances, welcoming ceremonies and it had even been a warehouse, before the University Museum was established there. The present baroque façade dates from the 18th century"
"INTERIOR - Sts. Johns has the largest organ in Lithuania"
"ST. PARASKEVA - Originally constructed in 1345, allegedly on the site of a pagan sanctuary built in honour of Ragutis, the god of beer, the church was renovated several times, the last one between 1986 and 1988. Peter the Great visited it in 1705 and Alexander Pushkin's great grandfather was supposedly baptised there"
"ST. NICHOLAS ORTHODOX CHURCH - The first church on this spot was built in 1514. With the arrival of General Muravyov and of his Russification programme, the building was converted into a Russian Byzantine style church in 1865. It's dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron of travellers and traders..."
"CHORAL SYNAGOGUE - This Synagogue, built in the Moorish style in 1903, is the only one remaining of the more than one hundred synagogues and Jewish temples existing in Vilnius before WWII. Vilnius had then a Jewish community of over 100,000 people"
"ST. CATHERINE - One of the finest examples of the so-called Vilnius Baroque, the church started in 1618 to take its present appearance after the 1743 reconstruction. Damaged during WWII, it was substantially renovated after Lithuania regained its independence. In 2006, the Municipality transferred the administration and the excellent acoustics of the central nave have been used as venue for concerts of the Saint Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra, the choir «Young Music», the boys’ and young people’s choir «Little Oak» as well as others"