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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The castle in Vilnius is always worth a visit

I’ve visited the castle several times to see its interior exhibitions as well as admire the views from the top.

Last time I went I had a quick look inside to see if there was anything new (there wasn’t but they could do with an English-speaking guide or a translated brochure). Then I wandered around outside and admired the views of the Three Crosses, the river Neris and views over the city from Gediminas’s Tower.

Again I was reminded how green this city really is. You don’t have to walk far from the city centre to find a park.

Last time I posted I remarked on how the trees on the outskirts of the castle had been removed. Presumably a nod to historical accuracy. They also removed the pantiled  roof from the building at the side of the tower, presumably for the same reason.

You can see both these features in a photo (above) I shot on one of my earlier visits in 2013.

A year later they had stripped the trees, re-turfed the hillside and removed the roofing tiles and shelter roof (See Here).

So here are my latest pictures – in no particular order – taken in and around the castle.


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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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Forest Brothers – the NATO history

One of my followers tweeted this NATO YouTube video. I think it’s no surprise that NATO has released this now given what’s happening in the Baltics.

Makes interesting viewing (and prompted RT to editorialize on it as if Russia didn’t have little green men with modern weapons working behind the lines in Ukraine).

See my earlier posts on this here and here


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War with Russia – a book worth reading

Here’s a book worth reading if you are at all interested in Russia’s aggressive behaviour towards former soviet union countries on its borders and its threat to world peace. 

Written by someone who knows what they are talking about (General Sir Richard Shirreff was Deputy Supreme Commander Europe for NATO) it’s a Tom Clancy type novel.

The action starts in Ukraine with the kidnapping of US trainers by Russian special forces and attacks on US jets by Russian fighters but soon moves to the Baltics demonstrating the high risks faced by these countries.

NATO is seen as largely ineffectual initially as its members have continually cut back on defence budgets or not contributed their agreed share to it.

However due respect is paid to the resistance movements in the Baltics referred to as the Forest Brothers

Without spoiling the plot for readers this book is bang up-to-date (it even has Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the opposition in the UK) but will make uncomfortable reading.


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Lithuania is not alone in fearing Putin

putinbalticsGraphic from the Sunday Times magazine.

Latvia and Estonia are also taking steps to create a resistance force for when the Russians invade – just like Lithuania’s Rifle Union.

The graphic shows the weak points, such as the Suwalki Gap through which the Russians can move from Kaliningrad, now a highly fortified military base..

Which idiots thought it was a good idea at the end of the second world war to give Russia that strip of land with access to the Baltics. Oh, we did!


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Lithuania and the Jews, still a difficult question for the country……..but there is hope.

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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It’s not every day that Lithuanian high school students block the entrance to their school to keep out their principal and demand the return to work of a beloved teacher who, in their opinion, was unfairly dismissed. In fact, as far as I could determine, the action taken recently by students at the Laisves (freedom) Gymnasium (high school) in Naujoji Vilnia, a suburb of the capital, Vilnius (Vilna), is unprecedented since Lithuania regained its independence in 1990.

So what prompted this unusual case of student insubordination, which garnered headlines in the largest of the Baltic republics? At this point, we must differentiate between the official version of the story and what appears to be the real reason for the events which took place at the high school several weeks ago. According to the principal, the teacher in question, Marius Janulevicius, who teaches Lithuanian language and literature, had spoken harshly to…

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