IMPRESSIVE ARCHITECTURAL STRUCTURE: ST. ANNE AND BERNARDINE CHURCHES
Expressive towers, countless arches, hundreds of artworks, neat metal gates, and many other embellishments, – this is St. Anne's Church. It is said that its beauty fascinated Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted to take this marvel of the Old Town of Vilnius on the palm of his hand to Paris. St. Anne's Church, along with the neighbouring Bernardine Church, comprise the most famous gothic ensemble in Lithuania.
Short history of St. Anne's Church
St. Anne's Church is one of the most beautiful and probably the most famous buildings in Vilnius. This is a late Gothic masterpiece, distinguished by its unique architecture and composition. The story goes that it was built in the end of the fourteenth century to Anna, wife of the Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great. However, s fire destroyed the wooden structure of the church which later, in 1500, was rebuilt by the Franciscan brothers, only this time it was not wooden but brick.
Over the five centuries the church has remained virtually unchanged: with its plastic, dynamic forms, vertical proportions. The reason of its grace lies in 33 kinds of bricks used in the construction. Later, in the nineteenth century, architect Nikolajus Čiaginas designed the Neo-Gothic bell tower.
Top class art
St. Anne's Church reveals a wide range of art forms subtly gathered in one place by the best artists of the time. The Church exterior and interior is dominated by the Gothic style, but the altars inside have a baroque touch. Graceful towers convey an architectural idea of the Gothic – approaching the God.
Bernardine Church – opposite of St. Anne's Church
Bernardine Church and Monastery are some of the largest and most magnificent gothic sacral buildings in Vilnius, although in the 17th and 18th centuries they acquired the Renaissance and Baroque features. They are opposite to St. Anne's Church: they have different style, and are much larger and more spacious.
According to the legend, the Bernardine monks used to tell such good sermons that crowds would come to listen. That is why the church is so large. In the beginning of the sixteenth century it was even incorporated into the construction of Vilnius defensive wall, so do not be surprised when you see shooting openings in its walls.
Lovers of art will find lot of valuable sixteenth century wall paintings in Bernardine church and the oldest known artistic Lithuanian crucifix sculpture from the fifteenth century. Visit the Gothic bell tower, and you can climb up the rounds staircase to the church attic along the south east tower. You will ascend to 17 meters in height. There, you can explore a timber roof structure, the masonry arches of the church, shooting openings and a wonderful panorama of Vilnius. You will see Gediminas Castle, the Hill of Three Crosses, and other churches in the Old Town. In the balcony you will have to have a close look of the Church organ from the nineteenth century.
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