Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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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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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Bars we have lost but won’t miss!

I’ve written about Lola’s bar and the wonderful ambience. We actually found it accidentally.

My colleague and I had been working at the university delivering a workshop and one of the lecturers dropped us off at a bar a little further up LStokuos-Guceviciaus g. at the Tappo D’Oro Vynine.

We went in and it was packed out with locals. We managed to get served and enjoyed the cuts of cold meat. But we couldn’t find anywhere to sit.

Whenever a table became vacant and we sat down the staff moved us on saying it was reserved – despite there being no reserved sign. They seemed to favour the locals

We were pretty fed up by the time we squeezed into a corner and when someone nudged my arm as I was sorting out some change for a tip and it went all over the floor I left it there. As we left we noticed Lola’s further down the street and said we’d try that next time. And we did, several times until it sadly closed.

We never went back to the Tappo D’Oro again and some time later that too was closed down as the area behind it was redeveloped. It was as if it never existed.

Unlike Lola’s bar, we didn’t miss it.


Bars we have loved and lost – Lola’s Bar

There was a definite something about Lola’s bar which led me to it most nights I was in Vilnius a few years ago. Just off the Old Town on L.Stokuos-Guceviciaus g.

The slightly shabby chic decor with hand written letters from South America, the mis-matched furniture, the decent wine and the pineapple carpaccio!

And the owners were very hospitable. Saule and Indre always looked after us very well.

While my colleague was off at the opera or the theatre refreshing his high-brow tastes I was hanging out in this bar with a bottle of good red wine listening to the music waiting for him to join me.

Oh that playlist: I remember Ray Charles, Cab Calloway (singing Minnie the Moocher which you might remember from the Blues Brothers film) and the neo-tango Spanish/Argentinian collaboration called Otros Aires.

Then he would come in to enjoy the rest of the evening and more wine before we staggered back to our hotel, The Shakespeare, for a final nightcap.

But when we returned on our our next visit in June 2013 we found it was no more! It was being redeveloped as a boutique!






Musical footnote:

Otros Aires say it is “an electronic-archeological project created between Barcelona and Buenos Aires airports.  It mixes the first tangos and milongas (fast tangos but also used to describe places where these are danced) records of the beginning of the last century with electronic sequences, melodies and words of the 21st century”

Read more about them here at Otros Aires.