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main destination guide sights church of st. peter and st. paul


SIGHTS IN VILNIUS

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

    The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is the most exquisite example of the late baroque architecture in Vilnius.
    On the place where the present church is situated there was a sanctuary of the pagan goddess of love Milda. After the christening of Lithuania a wooden church was constructed there. It was destroyed during the war with Moscow in 1655-1661. The construction of the new church started in1668 in honor of the city's liberation from Russians and the lucky escape of the Grand Hetman Michael Casimir Pac from the hands of rebellious soldiers. Construction was financed by two cousins, Grand Chancellor of Lithuania Kristupas Pacas and Grand Hetman of Lithuania Mykolas Pacas. The talented architects Jan Zaor, Gianbattista Frediani and others supervised the work. The unique interior Baroque decor was created by the Italian masters Giovanni Pietro Perti and Giovanni Maria Galli.
    From the outside the Church looks rather austere. It has the form of a Latin cross with the cupola and two small towers. Two-tiered facade is decorated with columns and a balcony.
    Although the church is rather plain from the facade, its baroque interior amazes the visitors by the breathtaking splendor. The walls are crowded with over two thousand stucco mouldings of biblical, historical, allegorical and mythological figures, fantastic and demonic beings, plants and animals. At this "world theater" God looks from the cupola. The human figures are grouped into separate scenes where parts of the New Testament, the lives of the saints and Lithuanian history are portrayed.
The church altar of the 20th century is famous for a wooden sculpture of the Jesus of Antakalnis with a wig of natural hair, believed to have miracle-working power. It was brought here from Rome in 1700.
    The church boasts the extraordinary chandelier made from brass and glass beads and fashioned in the shape of a ship, made in Latvia in 1905.
Michael Casimir Pac had ordered to bury him under the threshold of the church and inscribe "Hic iacet peccator" ("A sinner rests here") on the tombstone. But at the end of the 17th century his tombstone was split up by lightning, therefore a plaque with the inscription was embedded in the wall to the right of the entry.
    The square in front of the church is named after John Paul II in memory of the pope's visit to Lithuania.



Address: Antakalnio St., 1
Phone: 370-5-2340229