Since I talked about this church just here above, let's show it! ;-)
It's really not too off the beaten path, since it lies in Lukiškių aikste, a big green square between the Parliament building ad Gedimino Prospekt, but I think it's not one of the main tourists spots.
The present building of the church has survived from the 17th century, along with the Dominican monastery, built on the location of a former graveyard.
From here you can easily get to the modern districts of Vilnius, crossing the river Neris.
No, it's not a spot for the pizzeria in Užupis, but I just wanted to show the Church of the Ascension, up on Išganytojas (Saviour) Hill beyond the former city wall near the Subačius Gate.
Another fine example of Baroque and Rococo styles. Near the church there is Monastery built during 1640 - 1650, which once was home of the Vilnius Seminary. Now it hosts an hospital.
The church of the Apparition of the Holy Mother of God (also known as Znamenskaya, was built in 1903 with beautiful Byzantine cupolas and it's one of the nicest Russian Orthodox churches in Vilnius.
You can find it at the very end of Gedimino Prospektas, just after Žvėrynas bridge over river Neris.
You will probably see its huge green onion domes from almost everywhere, since it's a bit higher than the town centre, and that colour is really evident, and quite ugly too!
The othodox church of St. Michael and St. Konstantine was built in 1913 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty.
Interior of Znamienska Orthodox Church was decorated with different old pictures mainly depicting saints, candles and numerous mouldings. Personally I liked this large chandelier on my picture.
It is interesting to have Russian Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals getting along in one city. And it's unique in my country, Poland where there are very few orthodox churches at some areas only (largest cities and eastern part).
There were no pews inside orthodox churches, including interior of Znamienska Orthodox Church. There were a few prayers, everyone was standing, though most of the worshippers were elderly women.
The church had a high ceiling, maybe fifteen meters (fifty feet) high, with domes that went up higher. There ware tables with candles and pictures of saints hang above (altars). There were beautiful chandeliers and paintings edged in gold.
When I enetered Znamienska Orthodox Church I could see its amazing and very high domes from the inside. The byzantine style of the church (built 1903) was well seen. Columns where painted in thick, horizontal stripes. Round domes had galleries with many windows around.
These sliver domes on my picture belonged to Vilnius Orthodox Church which I could easy see from the above: from a top of Gediminas Hill, from my hotel room and from viewing platform of TV tower. As they looked beutiful from up I decided to find and visit this, indeed interesting for me, church.
The church, called Znamienska Orthodox Church, was built in 1903. It was interesting that looking from Gedimono prospectas (boulevard) this church closed a view towards the west while Roman catholic cathedral closed the view towards the east. Shouldn't they be located in reverse order? To get there from the parliament building you must cross a bridge over Neris river and turn first street right (Vytauto gatve), the entrance was on the right.
The Holy Trinity Greek church was originally gothic, founded as orthodox church in 1514 and rebuilt in shape similar to what I could see after the fire in 1748. Well, the style of the church was mixed, I think: gothic, baroque and russian-bisantine. Basilian uniate monks posess the church since 1608. The Uniate church is an Eastern Christian Church that preserves the Eastern rite and discipline but submits to papal authority. The Uniate Church was founded in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (which included Ukraine and Belarus) in 1596 at the Union of Brest.
When I saw this cube-shaped, massive and not renovated for years church I thought that it needed a lot of paint. At least its interiors were under renovation in 2004.
I found service schedule read on a piece of paper in 3 languages: Lithuanian, English (for visitors?) and... Ukrainian. Well, are there any Ukrainians living in Vilnius or just the Uniate church was popular in Ukraine? Never mind, just in case a schedule of holy masses:
Sun: 9.00 am, 10.00 am, 5.00 pm,
Sat: 7.45 am, 8.30 am, 5.00 pm,
Mon-Fri: 6.30 am, 5.30 pm.
When I visited the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Bernardinai) I found a lot of destroyed old, historical monuments, altars (one on my picture), frescos, sculptures, commemorative plaques etc. They were destroyed neither by war nor by fire/water but by Soviet totalitarian and intolerant to religion system. The Soviet Union destroyed many amazing churches of great artistic and historical value irretrievably. Well, under "more tolerant" Soviet regime in Vilnius most of them at least survived. They were closed or served as stores, stables, troops headquarters or... so called Museums of Atheism. In other areas of Soviet empire many churches were blown up (in Vilnius the Three Crosses). Since Lithuania regained independence most of them were renovated.
I got an idea to save one of them in its original = destroyed during Soviet occupation shape and opening the museum of religious tolerance (or Soviet intolerance) inside. I thought about displaying pictures (were there any ?) of a church in say 1939 or before to make it possible to compare the look. I would add historical info on victims of religious persecution. Well, not only catholic religion was persecuted in the Soviet Union, so such museum would be put inside say Jewish synagogue as well. Or maybe a church/synagogue is not the best place for any museum?
What do you think about the idea? E-mail me, please.
I could see a lot of nice looking small things when I visited churches of Vilnius. They were not at all off the beaten path but rather "off the beaten sight".
I liked some highly decorated old candlesticks esp. wooden, brass and/or silver-plated, flowers, liturgical vessels and vestments, small statues etc. But I rather didn't like pictures of saints hang in churches which were not of great artistic value and always looked somehat kitschy for me.
Although you won't be permitted inside (most likely), unless something will change, there are dungeons beyond Vilnius. They are unexplored and according to some hypotheses they are beyond all Vilnius downtown. The only known entrance is beyond altair of the church of Holy Spirit and priest one time a year goes down to bless people dead in those dongeons.
There are many bosies there, some are mummified (because of dry air there). Dungeons were closed and sealed in mid XIX century, but opened again in early XX century (?), although there are no documents about them because those were the times Poland ruled Vilnius. Students then explored dungeons and removed brick walls from crypts, probably then electricity was also installed. However, works were quickly forbidden after some strange crypt was found with supposedly victims of plague there. In Russian/Soviet occupation, it was planned to open museum of inquisition in dungeons, but it never happened (there was no inquisition in Vilnius actually).