Baroque fashion trends from Italy reached Lithuania very quickly. The noblemen of the thriving Grand Duchy of Lithuania considered it to be a point of honour to invite architects from Italy to their dominions. A trendy, flamboyant and rich architectural style of the 16th–17th centuries quickly established in Lithuania and consequently Vilnius acquired the name of the Eastern European capital of Baroque, whereas the news of the impressive Vilnius baroque school, distinguished for its flamboyant temperance, spread far away. The followers of Vilnius school disseminated their experience across the entire territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, thus buildings of Lithuanian Baroque can presently be found in Belarus, Ukraine and Poland.
While walking around the Old Town of Vilnius, you cannot miss the architectural ensemble of Vilnius University and the Church of Saints John with its Baroque bell tower. An original bell tower, designed by a famous architect and the intelligent follower of Vilnius Baroque school, Jonas Kristupas Glaubicas (Johann Christoph Glaubitz), is the tallest building in the Old Town of Vilnius which invites visitors to climb up to the very top and view the Baroque capital. At the end of the academic year, the church hosts the biggest celebration of Vilnius University students – a solemn diploma award ceremony is held here.
A perfect example of late Baroque. The gate was built according to the design of the then famous architect Jonas Kristupas Glaubicas (Johann Christoph Glaubitz) and it hides many secrets of Vilnius Holy Trinity Church and the Basilian Monastery. The monastery and the church belonged to the religious Uniate community for two hundred years. In early 19th century, a prison was established in the monastery. Today there is a memorial plaque with the name of the most notorious prisoner, poet and philomath of Vilnius University Adomas Mickevičius inscribed.
Once modest wooden Vilnius Church of Saints Peter and Paul has been fascinating city dwellers and guests by its incredible beauty since mid-17th century. Vilnius Voivode Michał Kazimierz Pac built the temple in order to express his gratefulness for returning safe and sound from a war against Muscovites. The majesty of the interior of the church lies in the white space. The temple is decorated with the works of Italian sculptors Giovanni Pietro Perti and Giovanni Maria Galli. If we tried to count them, there would be over two thousand of pieces of decoration.
Sapieha Palace was named after the builder – Grand Hetman of Lithuania Jan Kazimierz Sapieha built it in the 17th century according to the design of Italian architect Giovanni Battista Frediani. The palace together with the Trinity Monastery and the Church of Jesus the Redeemer reflect the mature Baroque style. Keeping pace with the contemporary trends, Sapieha invited sculptor and architect Giovanni Pietro Perti and painter Michelangelo Palloni to decorate his luxurious summer residence. Today restorers try to revive valuable frescoes and the palace itself.
It is a masterpiece of late Baroque. Famous Lithuanian architect Jonas Kristupas Glaubicas (Johann Christoph Glaubitz) revived the Church of St Catherine after the great fire of Vilnius. It is a big luck that his solutions withstood the challenges of passing years and several minor repairs have not spoiled the impressive interior. Even when it was transformed into a warehouse, the beauty of the temple did not disappear. Today the Church of St Catherine is a favourable concert place.
Surprising as it may sound, Pažaislis Monastery is quite possibly the most romantic place in Lithuania. A genuine baroque diamond from the 17th century, the monastery was built by the affluent, influential and religious Pacas family. Although the monastery has been devastated multiple times during various wars, artwork by Italian artists Giovanni Battista Frediani, the brothers Pietro and Carlo Puttini, Joano Meri, and Giuseppe Rossi, and the Florentine painter Michelangelo Palloni, all withstood the test of time. The sound of music beneath the arches of the church reveals its beauty as many concerts and music festivals take place here. The silence of the monastery is managed by the order of the Sisters of St. Casimir. In the southern part of the monastery you will find the Sacral Heritage Museum of the Pažaislis Monastery. Next to it is Monte Pacis, a unique dining and hospitality complex where you can experience a contemporary interpretation of historical dishes.
Tytuvėnai Monastery was designed to be well-proportioned, small, and elegant, and to include a family mausoleum. In the early 17th century, Andrejus Valavičius, the standard-bearer of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy, began construction of the monastery complex. It was built initially in the Gothic spirit, and then intertwined with Renaissance-style details. However, the largest proportion of the monastery is dedicated to Baroque architecture. Today, this Franciscan monastery is in excellent condition, and is a unique architectural monument located deep in the of heart of rural Lithuania. Nevertheless, it has already been discovered by pilgrims from all around the world.
The Pilgrim Centre located here provides a number of activities for curious visitors to try in order to gain an experience of life as a monk. These include by writing with a goose feather, tasting kvass, and assembling a rosary.
Liubavas Manor – one of the oldest in the country – hides almost the most beautiful love story in Lithuania, which has already become a legend. Sigismund the Old, the sovereign of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, transferred the manor, which he had been given, to his son Sigismund Augustus who secretly married Barbora Radvilaitė, the widow of the former owner of the manor. Passed through the hands of many owners, the manor has been known as the residence of aristocrats and talented artists at all times. The manor has been awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage for high quality restoration.
Šiluva is a place where visitors find inner spiritual peace, where you can experience a centuries old pilgrimage tradition and immerse yourself in impressive sacred architecture. The red brick Šiluva Church, built in the 18th century, is probably the last standing monument to Late Baroque sacred architecture. The interior has been preserved for over 200 years, and has hardly been altered. The faithful are drawn to the miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus, and the Chapel of the Apparition. The magnificent 44-meter-high building was designed by architect Antanas Vivulskis, who also designed the Three Crosses on the Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius. At the centre of the chapel, there is an altar on a rock where the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary was seen in 1608.