St. Michael the Archangel Church

Kaunas, Lithuania

St. Michael the Archangel's Church or the Garrison Church is a Roman Catholic church closing the perspective of the Laisvės alėja, the main pedestrian street. It was built between 1891 and 1895 when Kaunas was part of the Russian empire, in Neo-Byzantine style largely for the use of the Russian Orthodox garrison of Kaunas Fortress.

The church was designed as an Orthodox cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in 1890 by K. H. Lymarenko. The cathedral was completed in four years and was inaugurated on 17 September 1895. Most of the construction was carried out by workers from Chernigov Governorate, and its art-work was implemented by craftsmen from St. Petersburg.

As usual for military churches of the period, the construction of Kaunas cathedral was financed equally by the Military Ministry and by donations from army servicemen. Completion of the church finalized the administrative building complex of the Kaunas Fortress; it symbolized less the presence of Orthodox Christians than the imperial authority of the Russian government. It was also believed that the church would reduce interdenominational frictions.

After the fall of the Kaunas Fortress during World War I the Germans cut down the church bells and transported them to Germany. The church stayed closed until 1919. In the interwar period the cathedral became a Roman Catholic church of the Lithuanian garrison of Kaunas. During the Soviet occupation, it was used as an art gallery. Nowadays it serves as a Roman Catholic church.

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Details

Founded: 1891-1895
Category: Religious sites in Lithuania

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Eglė Ž. (8 months ago)
One of the most beautiful building in Kaunas
Lukas (9 months ago)
Perhaps not the most interesting place, yet is nice to see historical church and experience blind's way in the tunnel underneath the building.
Arvis K, (10 months ago)
A key figure in Laisves (Freedom) avenue axis and a dominant building in Nepriklausomybes (Independence) sq. The church has relatively short (just a bit more than 120 years) but vibrant history. Now it badly needs renovation. When renovation is done, the place is definitely 5*
Luka Panourgia (12 months ago)
Used to be the Pride of Kaunas and the most beautiful Church on the main Avenue of Liberty ("Laisves Aleja") but in these days negligence to renovate it, made this Church very ugly and this makes me terribly sad. This Church is seen from far away and is dearly loved by all citizens of Kaunas. To keep it in this state is pure disgrace when Kaunas gets so many visitors and it is situated in such a prominent location!
Karolina Rut (12 months ago)
Absolutely lovely place for the visit. Heart of city center, amazing gallery of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis-famous lithuanian artist and composer is more than worthy to see. The churt itself is fenmenon and historical object, always worthy to visit too. You can even get a tour to the dongeons! Amazing accses by public transport from any part of Kaunas. Its a must visit destination!
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.