There are dozens of churches around Vilnius Old Town, each one more magnificent than the others.
Actually it reminded me a bit of Lima in Perú, where you can’t even count the number of beautiful churches which are so near to each other.
Of course, that’s also the case of Rome, but Rome is something apart. I ain’t going to compare Rome in terms of churches to any other city in the world. Or well, yes, maybe to Jerusalem, but that would be the only one.
There is also a Synagogue in Vilnius. Actually the city was dubbed as "Jerusalem of Lithuania" or "Jerusalem of the North". By the 18th century the Jewish community made up almost half of its population and in the 19th Century you could find more than a hundred of synagogues there.
There is also a Kenesa in Vilnius, the place of worship of the Crimean Karaites, a branch of Judaism who arrived from Crimea in the 15th Century.
I didn’t have time to visit it but if you want to know more about this religious community, you can read what I learnt from them in Trakai.
The first four pictures you see on this page are from the Church of the Holy Trinity.
It’s one of the places you simply cannot miss when you’re in Vilnius.
Its fabulous gates in rococo style stand by Aušros Vartų gatvė (Gate Of Dawn Street).
Once you cross these gates there is a courtyard with some houses and apartments, a parking and of course, the Church itself.
This baroque monument started as a gothic church in 1514. During the 17th and 18th Centuries it belonged to the Greek Catholic Church.
In the 19th Century it was a given to the Russian Orthodox Church, but now it has returned to the Greeks.
Currently, the Church of the Holy Trinity is being restored, but that doesn’t prevent the pious to stop by for a prayer and there is even a big cross by the scaffold.
The Church of Ste Catherine stands on Stanislaw Moniuszko Square.
It is connected to a Benedictine Monastery.
Stanislaw Moniuszko was a 19th Century composer. He is considered to be the creator of the Polish Opera.
The complex was started in 1622 but the Russians burned it in 1655. The current building dates from the 18th Century, but it was heavily damaged by World War II.
The church of Saint Catherine is the first to have been extensively restored after Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union.
A lot of concerts and rehearsals are held at St Catherine’s Church, which is said to have great acoustics.
Unfortunately I couldn’t attend any performance.
The Church of St. Casmir has a long and complicated story.
It was the first baroque church in Vilnius, built by the Jesuits in 1604.
The interior was decorated with 13 baroque altars, but most of them were destroyed by Napoleon’s army.
In 1868 it was turned into an Orthodox Church: the towers were lowered and the baroque frescoes and sculptures demolished.
During the USSR years, the government turned it into the Museum of Atheism. Isn’t that weird enough?
Well things are going better now, the church is functioning again since 1991 and guess who’s in charge…Yes, it belongs again to the Jesuits.
|The Parsceve Russian Orthodox Church stands not far from the Chodkiewicz Mansion. When I visited Vilnius I had the chance to see this market with artists were selling their works here.
It is believed that the first religious structure here was a temple to Ragutis, the Lithuanian Pagan God of beer. Now you know in who's honour you’re toasting when you drink a Ragutis Beer!
The first church here was built in the 14th Century. Tsar Peter I visited twice the church. The present building dates from 1865.
The Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the main Orthodox church of Lithuania. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The first church here was built under the reign of Grand Duke Algirdas in 1346, when Lithuania was still the last pagan state of Europe.
Built 40 before the conversion of Lithuania to Christianity, the Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Vilnius.
In the 17th Century the cathedral was taken by the Greek-Catholic church, who rebuilt according to their style.
It was almost destroyed in 1748 by, guess what! Yes, a fire.
Then in 1785 in was rebuilt in Baroque style, only to be destroyed again by the Russians a few years later.
From the 19th Century, the church became part of the University and hosted a library.
In 1865 the cathedral became a holy place again and was given to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was reconstructed in the particular style of Georgian medieval architecture.
The Orthodox Church and Monastery Of The Holy Spirit are on a lane off Aušros Vartu gatve, not far from the Gates Of Dawn.
The church and the monastery were built in 1567 and decorated in the rococo style around 1750.
Inside are the relics of Anthony, John, and Eustathios, three martyrs who were tortured by Grand Duke of Algirdas in 1347, when Lithuania was still a pagan state.
Lithuania adopted Christianity between 1386 and 1387.
The Orthodox Church Of St Nicholas is incredibly beautiful.
With its tower and its Romanic arches, it looks like a combination of a fairytale castle and a church, without discarding some oriental and Byzantine elements.
It was built in 1514 and used to be in Gothic style. Again, it was destroyed by a fire and the present building dates from 1845.