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Church of St. Anne in Vilnius

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 54.6831 N 25.2932 E
No:531        (list of all attractions)
Categories:Churches
Values:Art, Architecture, History
Rank:3
Address:Europe, Lithuania, centre of Vilnius
Name in Lithuanian:Vilniaus Šv. Onos bažnyčia
UNESCO World Heritage status:Part of "Vilnius Historic Centre", 1994, No.541
Architectural style:Flamboyant Gothic, Brick Gothic
Year of construction:1495 - 1500
Branch of Christianity:Catholics
Church of St. Anne in Vilnius, Lithuania
Church of St. Anne and its belltower / Svein-Magne Tunli, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Church of St.Anne in Vilnius is very special - it looks like no other church in the world. There are numerous brick Gothic churches but only one - this church - is built from brick in Flamboyant Gothic style.

History

The unique facade of St.Anne Church, Vilnius
The unique facade of St.Anne Church / David Iliff, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

This is not the first church of St.Anne in Vilnius. First St.Anne church was a wooden building, located elsewhere. It was constructed in the times of Grand Duchess Anna in the late 13th or early 14th century and named after the Duchess. In these times Lithuania was not Chritianised and the church was built for visiting Germans and other Christians. It burned down in 1419.

Present church was built in the times of Alexander I Jagiellon, in the late 15th century. Since then it has remained largely unchanged although there have been several repairs, especially after the fires in 1560, 1564 and 1794.

It is not known who designed the church but two possible candidates are Michael Enkinger or Benedikt Rejt.

There is widely publicised legend which tells that Napoleon upon seeing this beautiful structure in 1812 expressed a wish to carry this church home, to Paris, "in the palm of his hand". Nevertheless these were not the best times for the church - it was turned into a military warehouse.

Description

Interior of St.Anne Church, Vilnius
Interior of St.Anne Church / David Iliff, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

St.Anne church is small structure, it is a part of larger ensemble of buildings which includes also another Gothic church - Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard and monastery.

Next to the church stands also a belltower - separate building which at first moment looks somewhat similar to the St.Anne church. Nevertheless this structure was built in another epoch - in 1872, in Neo-Gothic style (architect Nikolai Chagin). It was built here after the previous bell tower was demolished due to the construction of new street.

Most impressive part of the church is its facade. Brick here is used in a novel way for its time, adapting to the trendy Flamboyant Gothic style with ogee arks. Here have been used 33 diverse kinds of brick.

Interior, including the altar, was shaped in Baroque style, but it is more restrained than the beautiful facade.

Map

See Church of St. Anne in Vilnius on the map of Lithuania!

 

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