St. Anne's Church

Vilnius, Lithuania

St. Anne's Church (Šv. Onos bažnyčia) is a prominent example of both Flamboyant Gothic and Brick Gothic styles. St. Anne's is a prominent landmark in the Old Town of Vilnius that enabled the district to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The first church at this site, constructed of wood, was built for Anna, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, the first wife of Vytautas the Great. Originally intended for the use of Catholic Germans and other visiting Catholics, it was destroyed by a fire in 1419. The present brick church was constructed on the initiative of Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander in 1495–1500; the exterior of the church has remained almost unchanged since then. A reconstruction of the church, funded by Mikołaj 'the Black' Radziwiłł and Jerzy Radziwiłł, was carried out following severe fire damage, in 1582. Abraomas Kulvietis preached in the church between 1538 and 1541. In 1747, the church underwent a repair under supervision of Johann Christoph Glaubitz. In 1762, side arches of the main portal were hidden in order to strengthen the support for the facade.

According to a well-known legend, Emperor Napoleon, after seeing the church during the Franco-Russian War in 1812, expressed a wish to carry the church home with him to Paris 'in the palm of his hand'. The church was renovated in 1902–1909 when the side arches were uncovered and the walls were strengthened with iron and again in 1960–1970 when the towers in bad shape were restored. On August 23, 1987 the Lithuanian Freedom League held a rally in a square near the church and the monument of Adam Mickiewicz to protest the ongoing Soviet occupation, which was broken up by themilitia. Most recent reconstruction followed in 2009: the roofing was replaced, facade elements were reinforced and long-missing side spires were rebuilt.

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Founded: 1495–1500
Category: Religious sites in Lithuania

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Vaiva Cizauskaite (5 months ago)
It's a really beautiful and popular church and sometimes you can spot a wedding when passing by the church
Gosia M Kwiatkowska (5 months ago)
There is something special about this church- the gothic style and the lovely atmosphere in and around the place. Loved it.
Rob P (6 months ago)
Beautiful Gothic pearl built in 1500. Has the distinction of having served as stable for Napoleon's horses in 1812. As of 2018, home to the Traditional Latin Mass community of Vilnius (Holy Mass 12h Sunday, 1815h Tuesday-Saturday)
Planet Airlines (8 months ago)
St Anne's Church, it's a beautiful Gothic Church which is a key symbol to Vilnius and the city constructed entirely with red brick. The church of St Anne is a masterpiece of the late Gothic period. The church, which has survived to the present day without changing for over 500 years, has become one of the most popular tourists attractions.
Stephen Nosalik (9 months ago)
St Anne’s is a stunning church just metres away from St Frances of Assisi church. Together they make a stunning photo of red brick. Both are free Togo in and both are worth your time. It really is one of the architectural highlights of Vilnius.
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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.

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