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Church of St. Anne in Vilnius

Church of St. Anne in Vilnius, Lithuania
Church of St. Anne in Vilnius / Svein-Magne Tunli, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

WorldBlue  In short

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.

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GPS coordinates
54.6831 N 25.2932 E
Location, address
Europe, Lithuania, centre of Vilnius
Name in Lithuanian
Vilniaus Šv. Onos bažnyčia
Architectural style
Flamboyant Gothic, Brick Gothic
Year of construction
1495 – 1500
Branch of Christianity
UNESCO World Heritage status
Part of "Vilnius Historic Centre", 1994, No.541

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail


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 Christianised 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 publicized 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 of the Church of St. Anne

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

Church of St. Anne is a small structure, it is a part of a 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 – a separate building which at the 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 a 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.

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Ottobeuren Basilica, Germany / Johannes Böckh & Thomas Mirtsch, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0


Throughout the millennia Christian churches have been the epitome of architecture and arts achievements in Western culture.

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Vilnius: City of Strangers

Presents the history of the capital city of Lithuania from its 14th century legendary beginnings up to 2009, when Vilnius bears the distinction of European Capital of Culture. Besides applying the traditional apparatus of historical investigation and referring to a large number of sources, the special feature of this book is the ample quotes from travelers who passed through the city during their own life journeys.

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