A COUNTRY DECORATED WITH CHURCH TOWERS
There are many churches in our country: red, white towers poking up in tiny villages and large cities’ panoramas, attract the attention of passers-by and delight the hearts of their own residents. On Sundays people come to the parish churches, awaiting for St. Masses. Meanwhile travellers, tourists and art lovers are attracted usually not by the Mass, but by the impressive, majestic architecture with the rich history.
The magnificent buildings reflect the history and the change of eras
Lithuanian churches are a living history book of Lithuania. Their construction history is, architecture, artwork dates back to the most ancient times, and reflect the change of different eras, telling the story of the destinies of people who lived in this land. The churches sometimes were even built or used as defensive walls, and often were strongly affected by the devastation and wars.
First churches appeared in Lithuania before the introduction of Christianity – they have been built by merchants and craftsmen from other countries who lived here. After the baptism in 1387 the number of churches in Lithuania began to grow notably. In the middle of the twentieth century there were as many as 885 Catholic churches and chapels in Lithuania.
Abundance and diversity of churches
Prayer homes in Lithuania are abundant and they are all very different. The most common and visited are the largest and most impressive churches of Lithuania, located in our urban centres. But no less impressive are also small and tiny churches away from large cities. Lithuania has many churches of modern architecture, which will not to mind at all their actual, sacred purpose.
The most famous churches in Lithuania
The first church in Lithuania, supposedly, was built by the Grand Duke Mindaugas in the thirteenth century. It was Vilnius Cathedral, which in its long history has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. The oldest surviving stone church – St. Nicholas, built in the 14th – 15th centuries. It stands in Vilnius and visitors admire its Gothic and Romanesque features.
St. Anne's Church is a breathtaking beauty and a masterpiece of late Gothic.
The miraculous Chapel of the Gate of Dawn storing the icon of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy in Vilnius has many features of late Renaissance and is one of the holy places in Lithuania most visited by pilgrims.
Impressive and stately architectural work of baroque is St. Peter and Paul Church in Vilnius.
The oldest wooden church of Lithuania is in Paluse, Ignalina district. This is an example of simple shapes, harmonious proportions, and wooden folk baroque.
The church is part of Trakai defensive complex
Churches were built in Lithuania not only as houses of worship but also as defensive buildings. Here's a Gothic Church of the HOLY Virgin Mary's visitation, that used to be part of the Trakai defensive complex – built on the highlands, the temple guarded the access to the peninsula castle area, it was the spiritual centre of the town compared in size and importance to Trakai island castle. Not only is the scale of the church, but also its history is unique – it has never ever been closed. Today Trakai church is a unique monument of faith religious and Lithuanian historical culture, protecting the Church's history and art heritage dating six centuries back.
Pilgrimage centre – Siluva
Siluva town in Raseiniai district is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Lithuania with the longest, nearly 500 years of tradition to celebrate the feast of Holy Virgin Mary's birthday. The town is abundantly visited, cherished and fostered by John Paul II's pilgrimage. Travelling along the special built path, pilgrims enjoy the fresh pine-scented air, beautiful hills, panoramic view of the town, and are quietly praying.
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