Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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The Church of Saints Peter and Paul

On one of our business trips a student told us she lived near the most beautiful church in Vilnius, that of saints Peter and Paul in Antakalnis. We’d passed it on several occasions on our visits to the British Embassy just across the road but never been inside.

So my colleague and I made the effort to see it for ourselves.

There were some helpful ladies who explained some of the many pieces of interest in the church e.g. the war drums that were brought back from Turkey.

They also told us that the founder of the church had been buried upright in the doorway until it collapsed when he was relegated to being buried under the entrance that people walked over. Whether or not that is true I don’t know but it’s not mentioned in the rather flimsy guide leaflet we found.

There was a church here in the 15c, according to legend erected on the site of a pagan temple (it seems many churches were). A house for priests was built next to it but closed down by the Russians in 1864.

The current building was erected after the Russian invasion which devastated Vilnius in the mid-17th century. Less than a dozen years later the Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania MykolasKazimieras Pacas embarked on its construction to express his gratitude to God for a miraculous escape during the war.

His picture is present in the church alongside St Mary Magdalene de Paci, an alleged relative, and the Archangel Michael the patron of all christian knights.

The church is decorated by Italian sculptures and has six chapels and there is a 17th century font. In the chapel of the Military Saints is a scene showing St Casimir miraculously inspiring the Lithuanian army to overcome the Muscovites.

There is a chapel, of the Holy Queens, devoted to women who helped the poor and the chapel of St Ursula which commemorates the girls massacred by barbarian soldiers and a monument to the women of Vilnius who suffered during the last occupation.

There was a Fraternity of the Five Wounds of Christ which was established in the 17th century and consisted of fishermen’s communities living in Antakalnis and across the river Neris at the time.  That probably explains the boat hanging from the roof.

There are too many images and statues to describe here. Many were brought from Rome.

We spent an interesting few hours there even persuading the church ladies to pose, albeit reluctantly, for their photographs.


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Sculptures everywhere in Lithuania

Maybe my eye is drawn to them or perhaps Lithuanians love statues, but there are plenty to see – even ones in Vilnius that talk to you! (I haven’t included the shop signs I posted about earlier).

First are a couple of my favourites in very contrasting styles: The Easter Island like statues of the Three Kings (there is no engraving on the statues to indicate a name or who sculpted them) near the cathedral on the walk down to the river and the Green Bridge and the animated orator as you turn right at the top end of  Pilies g. near the back entrance to the university and the bell tower on Šv Jono g.

 

The others are mostly from Vilnius with some from Kaunas and Druskininkai.

 

 


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General Jonas Žemaitis

This statue stands outside the ministry of defence in Vilnius (there is also one in Kaunas) and the national military academy has been re-named after him. But what do we actually know about this man also known as Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent, who was elected a Brigadier General and posthumously as a President? 

Like much of Lithuania’s recent history under multiple occupations it seems there are gaps and differing views about this complex “hero”. It’s known he served in the soviet army then surrendered to the Nazis before joining the partisans.

Read more about him here on the Defending History blog (which argues he has been raised to prominence by the” cult of the partisans”. See post on partisans)

or here.

Make up your own mind.

 


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Artist gone missing?

One of the nice things about visiting a city regularly is that you can catch up on old friend and acquaintances  – if you can find them.

I’ve already posted about the Piccolo Canopi (Little Hooves) restaurant disappearing and the Taste of Lithuania cafe bistro.

This time it wasn’t an eating place I was looking for but an artist’s studio on the corner of šv Kazimierz g. where I met Cica, the artist, playing a vinyl record by Dave Stewart and Candy Dufler over and over again, particularly the haunting track “Lily was here”.

But no sign of Cica and certainly no Lily. The studio was now a fashion design studio. I went inside and asked but the staff didn’t know where he’d gone. I eventually found him on Facebook when I got home so hope he is well?

It’s perhaps no surprise he has gone as the area is undergoing a process of gentrification.

I’d already noticed the refurbished buildings next to the derelict church on Savičiaus g.

Then as I turned the corner and walked up Bokšto g. towards the old artillery bastion (basteja) I saw new walls rising above the old ones.

Then the banner advertising the new development. Very upmarket indeed. (And to think I once contemplated buying an apartment in Vilnius)

So just a reminder of how the studio used to look. Part of the quirkiness in Vilnius that seems to be fast disappearing.