Places to visit in Vilnius – Part 3

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Vilnaisu RotuseThe Cathedral Square branches into one of the most beautiful and central streets of the city – Pilies Street. It is one of the oldest streets in the city, rich with interesting ancient buildings. Today, house number twenty-six in Pilies Street is the House of Signatories. It is a historical and architectural monument, where on February 16th, 1918, the Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed. The present Pilies Street is divided into two sections: from the Saint Pararascevia Ortho­dox Church the street is called Didžioji Street. In earlier times, Pilies Street was a single street link­ing the Cathedral and the Town Hall.

The Magdeburg Rights were granted to Vilnius by Jagiello (Lithuanian: Jogaila), Grand Duke of Lithuania and king of Poland, in 1387. The initial, gothic-style Town Hall in Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1432. It was stand­ing on the same spot where its successor is now. The Town Hall Square contained market places, measures, treasure house, chancellery, archives, underground prison. It was the place, where the city authorities and merchants would gather. The Town Hall acquired its present appearance in the end of 18th century after the reconstruction de­signed by Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius, designer of the reconstructed Vilnius Cathedral. That’s why these two Classical-style buildings are well distin­guished in the surrounding of various styles. When
the right of self-rule was cancelled, the Small The­atre (Lithuanian: Mažasis teatras) was opened in the Town Hall in 1811 and a standing theatre was functioning from 1845 to 1922.

Place to visit in Vilnius – Part 2

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Vilnius Cathedral Square

Cathedral-Basilica

One of the main accents at the foot of the Vilnius castle complex is the Ca­thedral-Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus, built in 1251. The Cathedral is allegedly built at the place of pagan temple in the times of Lithu­anian king Mindaugas. After king’s death in 1261, the Cathedral is believed to become, for a certain time, a place of pagan worship again. When Lithuania was converted to Christianity in 1387, a new church with 5 chapels was built. The first Lithuanian school was opened at the church. The appearance of the church has been changing over the time. The Cathedral was reconstructed to its present appearance according to the design of Laurynas Gucevičius in the classical style in 1801. In 1889, Juozapas Radavičius built organs for the Cathedral. In Soviet times, in 1956-1988, the Cathedral was used as a picture gallery.

Today the Cathedral appears in the classical style, strict rectangular shape. This mononave church has 11 lateral chapels. The most valuable one is the St. Casimir Chapel. The Royal (Valavičiai) Chapel is believed to be the place of the secret wedding of Sigismund Augustus (Lithuanian: Žygimantas Augustas) and Barbara Radziwitt (Lithuanian: Barbora Radvilaitė). The mi­raculous image of the Mother of God (known as the “Madonna of Sapiega”, early 17th century), portraying the Blessed Virgin Mary with Franciscan saints, is in the Sapieha (Lithuanian: Sapiega) chapel.