St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Vilnius. Its interior has masterful compositions of stucco mouldings by Giovanni Pietro Perti and ornamentation by Giovanni Maria Galli of Milan, and is considered a Lithuanian Baroque masterpiece.
It is believed that the first wooden church was built on this location after Jogaila's conversion. It was rebuilt at the end of 15th century, but was destroyed by a fire in 1594. Another wooden church was built between 1609–1616, but it also was destroyed during the wars with Russia in 1655–1661.
The construction of the new church was paid for by the Great Lithuanian Hetman Michał Kazimierz Pac in celebration of the victory against the Russians and the suppression of Lubomirski's Rokosz. A large Turkish war drum (timpano) is on display in the church. It was seized from the Ottomans in the Battle of Khotyn of 11 November 1673, won by the Commonwealth forces, and granted to the church by Michał Kazimierz Pac.
The construction works of the present church started in 1668 under the supervision of Jan Zaor from Kraków and finished in 1676 by Giambattista Frediani. The decoration works were unfortunately terminated in 1684 due to the founder's death in 1682, which prevented creating the main altar according to the original design. The decoration works were finally completed only in 1704.
The main altar, smaller than planned, was built in the beginning of 19th century by Giovanni Beretti and Nicolae Piano from Milan. It is dominated by the Farewell of St. Peter and St. Paul, a large drawing by Franciszek Smuglewicz, installed there in 1805.
St. Peter and St. Paul's Church is a basilica built on a traditional cross plan with a lantern dome allowing extra light into its white interior. The freestanding columns of the main facade were used for the first time in Lithuanian ecclesiastical architecture. The inscription surrounding the base of the dome is the same as that of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The church is decorated with over 2000 religious depictions. The frescos are attributed to Johann Gotthard Berchhoff. The female heads opposite the St. Augustine Chapel represent two sister nations: Poland and Lithuania.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.