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SIGHTS IN VILNIUS

Vilnius University

    The Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas) is one of the oldest and most famous universities in Eastern Europe. For more than four centuries it has been the leading cultural and scientific center in Lithuania. The date of the University foundation is considered to be 1579, when the Jesuit College, established in 1570, was transformed into the University. In 1773, the Jesuit order was dissolved in Europe and the University was taken over by the secular authority. For a long time it was the only establishment of higher education in the country, thronged with professors and students from all over Europe. In 1832, the University was closed down according to the tsar Nicholas I order, who considered it to be the center of the anti-tsar movement. Only in 1919 the University was reopened.
    Among the renowned graduates of the university one should mention Polish poets Adam Mickevich and Yuliush Slovatsky, Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, Byelorussian poet Yanka Kupala and many others.
    For 400 years the University has enlarged greatly: its building are situated not only in the city, but in other areas as well. But the history of the University started in the old town campus, where at present the rector's office, library and lecture rooms are situated. In the course of time twelve buildings were constructed there, forming twelve courtyards of different size. The Great Courtyard is of a special artistic value. It is comprised of the university buildings dating from the 16th century, magnificent facade of the St. John Church and the belfry. The courtyard combines elements of three architectural styles: Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. Numerous arcades, decorating the courtyard, remind of an Italian Renaissance square. On the memorial plaques, set on the facade of the Church of St. John and university building, one can read the names of the famous professors and rectors.
    The library of the Vilnius University was founded one year later than the famous Oxford library. The library consists of many halls, encompassing different architectural styles. The Smuglewicz hall, situated on the ground floor, is the oldest. In 1802- 1804 the hall was redecorated by Franciszek Smuglewicz. Mural paintings renovated in the first half of the 20th century present the scenes on biblical themes, classical ornaments and men of science. Now in the hall a permanent exhibition of manuscripts and early books, containing unique exhibits, is located.



Address: Universiteto St., 3
Phone: 370-5-2611795