Cathedrals in Lithuania

Vilnius Cathedral

The Cathedral of Vilnius (Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania and the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania. It is believed that in pre-Christian times, the Baltic pagan god Perkūnas was worshiped at the site of the cathedral. It has also been postulated that the Lithuanian King Mindaugas ordered the construction of the original cath ...
Founded: 1429 | Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Kaunas Cathedral Basilica

Kaunas Cathedral Basilica (Kauno Šv. apaštalų Petro ir Povilo arkikatedra bazilika) is a Roman Catholic cathedral basilica. The exact date when the first Gothic style church dedicated to apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul was built is unknown, but it was first mentioned in written sources in 1413. The first parochial school in Kaunas at the St. Peter and St. Paul church was mentioned in 1473. The construction works we ...
Founded: c. 1413 | Location: Kaunas, Lithuania

Telsiai Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua is a seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Telšiai. The history of the church dates back to 1624 when Deputy Chancellor of Lithuania Paweł Stefan Sapieha established a Cistercian monastery and built a wooden church on the Insula hill in the centre of Telšiai. A new spacious brick church was constructed between 1762 and 1794. The tower was built in 1859. In 1893 arch ...
Founded: 1762 | Location: Telšiai, Lithuania

Siauliai Cathedral

A Samogitian elder M. Kęsgaila built the first wooden church in Šiauliai in 1445. Later, the church was destroyed several times, burned down, until it got its present Renaissance appearance in the early 17th century. When pope John Paul II established Šiauliai Diocese, the church became a Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. The church is painted from inside and outside with two shades of white. The Cat ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Šiauliai, Lithuania

Panevezys Cathedral

The Cathedral of Christ the King (Kristaus Karaliaus katedra) is a Roman Catholic cathedral, seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Panevėžys. The cathedral is eclectic combining features of Baroque and Neoclassicism and it was built between 1908-1933. In 1860, bishop Motiejus Valančius began preparations for construction of a new church in Panevėžys. However, after the Uprising of 1863, the Tsarist autho ...
Founded: 1908-1933 | Location: Panevėžys, Lithuania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.