With over twenty thousand students, a few more than in Oxford, the main university of Vilnius is a heavyweight. It's also one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1579. Today the university grounds incorporate a number of fine buildings, especially Church of St. John, the Aula and the Observatory. Its alumni counts among its members a Nobel prize winner.
Like much of Lithuania, the history of the university has been tainted by history. Perhaps the worst came during Soviet times under Stalin, when professors were sent to the gulags, or worse, even killed. Five professors even died in the Katyn Massacre.
As we walked the streets of the Old Town we noticed various buildings which were part of the original University established during the 16th century. It was nice to see these buildings preserved and still in use by the University.
The Old Campus buildings, which were established in 1570, extend over a whole block of the Old Town and were established on property owned by the Bishop of Vilnius.
The original buildings are arranged around 13 courtyards of different shape and size.
One of the oldest universities in Europe is staying in Vilnius. Opened in 1579 and approved like a high school in Lithuanian Duchy. Complex of University's buildings has all main styles of architecture. Even every court has its own style. The main court (Renaissance style) is with
St Johns church, which belongs to University. Very beautiful inside, displayed collection of about 50 old books. Some of the Latin prayer books, Bibles and philosophical tomes date back to the 14th century.
We only rubbed against the university buildings on our way to the cathedral and the castle. It was getting late and we were over 200 km away from our holiday home. But the 16th century university complex and Sts Johns' Church on its premises are certainly worth a visit, a reason for us to go back some day. On our second visit to Vilnius we found the gate to the church closed - we were only able to see the 63 m tall belfry with a cross measuring 6,2 metres, the tallest historic building in Vilnius. Perhaps we should have been more persistent looking for another entrance to the church but it was getting late by then.
The university was founded in 1579 as a Jesuit college but soon was taken over by the secular authorities. It has eleven courtyards, with the buildings representing different styles.
Its former students include the Polish national bard Adam Mickiewicz, our great Romantic poet Juliusz Slowacki and the Polish Nobel Prize Winner for literature Czeslaw Milosz.
Founded in the late 16th century, Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe. The university is situated in the heart of the old town, so it's easily accesible and worth a visit. Take some time to explore the 13 courtyards, as well as St. John's church.
A note about St. John's: the church is on the perimter of the university complex, and it appears as though you should be able to gain access from the old town streets. To get in, however, you have to be inside the university complex. This took us a little while to figure out, but it was worth the effort.
Vilnius University is one of the oldest in Europe and was founded in 1579. It soon became an important centre of education not only for Lithuania but also for the surrounding countries. Years of constructing new buildings are reflected in different architectural styles, such as Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism.
The university consists of a number of yards connected with each other by stairs and gates. A church (St. John's) is also part of the grounds.
The entry fee is 1 Litas for students and 5 Litas for everybody else.
- M.K. Sarbievijus yard is surrounded by various styles of buildings from different time periods. Inside one of them are frescoes painted by P. Repsis in the Lithuanina Philology Department.
- The large yard, in its gallery there are colourful frescoes of Vilnius University coat of arms, portraits of bishop V. Protasevicious, vice-councellor L. Sapiega and other patrons.
- The Bookstore, in the vaulted drawing room decorated by A. Kmieliauskas' frescoes
The University of Vilnius, one of the oldest and most famous establishments of higher education in Eastern and Central Europe, was founded in 1579. After having returned from Trakai I decided to visit Vilnius University Ensemble. There are 13 courtyards and I am not quite sure if I visited them all. I had a map with me but even with it I found it bit difficult. The large courtyard is surrounded by arcades from three sides and on the fourth side the facade of St. John's Church.
The University occupies a large block with Sv. Jono, Skapo and Universiteto streets as its boundaries. The University is an astonishing contrast of medieval palace architecture lively student atmospheare. This liveliness is created by a labyrinth of 13 cozy courtyards, arcades with decorative metal gates, galleries, the old astronomical observatory and memorial plaques to outstanding lecturers. It is a group of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist style buildings. One of the most picturesque parts of the University is the church of St. John with its belfry.
The predecessor of the University was a college set up by the Jesuits who came to Lithuania with the purpose of combating the spreading Reformation. On April 1, 1579 the status of the college was upgrated to a university by an Act of Polish king Stefan Batory and was approved by the Pope, Gregory XIII.
The university in Vilnius, along with its 11 courtyards, is one of the oldest in Europe (it was founded in 1579), and it's an architectonic masterpiece of different styles.
It first was a Jesuit college, transformed few years later in University. In 1773, the Jesuit order was dissolved in Europe and the University was taken over by the secular authority.
In the recent years Vilnius University started to free itself from the Soviet ideology before the rest of the country, and helped in gaining independence from USSR.
There was a commemorative plaque affixed on this building on my picture at Pilies gatve which said in both Lithuanian and Polish language : here, on Vilnius University Adam Mickiewicz was studying in 1815 - 1819. Mickiewicz was the greatest Polish poet and national bard in 19th century.
The University was founded by King Stephen Bathory's in 1579. The buildings of the Old Campus (some from 15th century) were located in a quarter among 4 streets - look at the map here and get lost among its 13 courtyards of which I liked esp. the Great Courtyard (of Piotr Skarga).
I thought over famous people who studed there in the past. Do you want the whole list, OK, my top 3 Polish guys:
1. Czeslaw Milosz - poet, publicist, Nobel prize winner in literature in 1980, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley; he lives in Krakow, Poland now;
2. Adam Mickiewicz - poet and Polish national bard in 19th century;
3. Juliusz Slowacki - a writer and Romantic poet.
The University of Vilnius, one of the oldest and most famous establishments of higher education in Eastern and Central Europe, was founded in 1579. Functioning for a long time as the only school of higher learning in Lithuania, it was a preserver of cultural and scientific traditions, and has played a significant part in the cultural life not only of Lithuania, but the neighboring countries as well. During more than four centuries of its existence, the University of Vilnius has seen periods of growth and decline, revival, and closure.
Vilnius' university is one of the oldest in Europe. It opened its gates in 1579. The library still has some books of the 15th century.
Read more about its history
A really old university. It has some very nice frescos of astronomical ... things (I guess my ignorance isn't appropriate for this place, but they let me in anyway. No SAT's needed for entrance :)).
Anyway, the ancient atmosphere makes it even nicer, thinking about the thousands of talented minds passing through the gates and into the classes for hundreds of years.
If you enter the courtyard of the university you should have a look at this bookshop. It is a piece of art itself. It is on the other side of the courtyard.