Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, has so many churches that it is barely possible to count them all. The most contrasting thing is that there are plenty of shining, golden and famous churches together with abandon one, that are even standing in the streets of Old Town. But, definitely, the churches are interesting historical places that hold many unrevealed secrets. If you are interested in learning with which Vilnius church Napoleon Bonaparte fell in love or which church keeps 2000 mummified bodies, this story is for you. So, here are the most interesting churches in Vilnius.
There is a story about the magnificent St. Anne's Church in Vilnius which starts in 1812. During the Franco-Russian war, the army of Napoleon Bonaparte was leaving Russia. They stop by Vilnius and Emperor Napoleon, after seeing this church, expressed his desire to carry the St. Anne's Church home with him to Paris, 'in the palm of his hand'. Nobody knows the architect of this church, but there are talks that it might be Michael Enkinger, who designed the church with the same name in Warsaw. The facade of the church is impressive - built from 33 different kinds of clay bricks and painted in red. Also, the main facade's architecture is slightly different from the traditional Gothic style - the arches are framed by rectangular elements with a purpose to create the impression of dynamism. This church, for me personally, is the most beautiful in Vilnius, and the most beautiful church that I generally have seen in my life. And, one important thing, pass by this Church at night. The lights make its facade look redder and really breathtaking.
Standing in the main street of the city center, the Church of St Catherine serves as a cultural event and concerts place. It was the first church in Lithuania that was renovated after the restored independence. Nowadays, the church with its excellent acoustics is used to hold various events, rehearsals, and concerts of the Saint Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra.
For the perfect impression, visit one of the concerts and performances organized in this church (the all upcoming events you can find on the stand near the church). You will be impressed by how the music, architecture and acoustics turn this church into a magical place.
Church of St. Casimir is also one of the most interesting churches in Vilnius. There is a legend saying that the cornerstone that is now visible on the main church's facade wall was pulled by 700 Vilnius people from the Antakalnis hill.
The Church was built in 1618, and it is one of the first Baroque-style buildings in the city. In the 18th century, the architect Thomas Zebrowski designed and added the lantern cupola with a crown. This impressive cupola became unique in the entire region of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the middle of the 19th century, the church was converted into a Russian Orthodox Church, where, according to stories, famous Russian writer Fjodor Dostojevski prayed. In the 20th century, the church was given back to Catholics.
It is believed that the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit stands from the times when Grand Duke Gediminas was alive. The church has the features of high and late Baroque style and rococo ornamentation. During the history, the church served to Catholics, later was converted into a prison and till nowadays still has a dungeon full of 2000 naturally mummified bodies from the 17-18th centuries. There are the rumors that the bodies also contain the victims of plague and Napoleon's French soldiers from the French invasion of Russia in 1812. Also, the underground part of this church has numerous hidden places, crypts, and tunnels which might be connected into one big labyrinthine under the whole Vilnius.
You will be impressed by the beautiful architecture of these churches, but you will never know what secrets they hide. Vilnius has so many interesting churches that you might need a few days to explore them all. But it is never too late to start.
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