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.
It is the most romantic spot in Lithuania. It is a real diamond of Lithuanian Baroque of the 17th century. Built by a wealthy, influential and very religious Pac family, the monastery many times suffered from wars. However, time failed to destroy the beauty created by Italian artists Giovanni Battista Frediani, brothers Pietro and Carlo Puttini, Joano Meri, Giuseppe Rossi and Florentine painter Michelangelo Palloni. Today it is revealed by music played under the vaults of the church – many concerts and music festivals are organised here, and the sisters of St Casimir safeguard the peace of the monastery.
Proportionate, elegant, small and with a space for a family tomb. These were the requirements for a monastery in Tytuvėnai, began to be built by standard-bearer of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Andrejus Valavičius in early 17th century. The monastery ensemble started with the spirit of Gothic, was ornamented with Renaissance style details, yet the biggest tribute was paid to Baroque architecture. Perfectly preserved, it is today a unique architectural monument situated deep within Lithuania which has already been discovered by the pilgrims of the world.
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.
Built in the 18th century, the current red-brick Šiluva church is probably the last example of Late Baroque sacred architecture of such integrity in Lithuania. The interior décor of the church has been preserved virtually unchanged over more than two centuries. Worshippers are drawn here by the miraculous painting of Mary and Baby Jesus, the Feast of Our Lady of Šiluva (Šilinės), and the Chapel of the Apparition. Some 40 metres high, the magnificent building was designed by architect Antanas Vivulskis, who also created the Three Crossesmonument in Vilnius. The altar of the chapel is embedded with the stone on which the Blessed Virgin Mary is thought to have appeared.