Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1


For hotels and restaurants in this region see pp68–9

Town Hall


Rotušės Aikštė

Didžioji 31. Map D4. Town Hall
Tel (5) 261 8007. n (5) 262 6470.

8am–6pm Mon–Fri. _ Kaziuko

Crafts Fair (Mar). http://www.vilnius.lt

Fully repaved in 2006, Town
Hall Square was for centuries
a marketplace and the centre
of public life. It still bustles
with activity, especially during
the annual Kaziuko Crafts
Fair, a festival of traditional
arts and crafts marking
St Casimir’s Day, when stalls
line the square. The main
building of the square, the
Town Hall, was earlier the site
of a court; prisoners were
marched from its cells to the
square to be beheaded. The
building was con structed at
the end of the 18th century.
Today, the Town Hall hosts
numer ous cultural and social
events around the year.

Church of

St Casimir^9
šv Kazimiero Bažnyčia

Didžioji 34. Map D4. Tel (5) 212

  1. 5 10:30am & 5:30pm
    Mon–Fri, noon Sun.

The first Baroque church of
the city, St Casimir was
destroyed by fire three times
after being built by the Jesuits
between 1604 and 1635,
prompting extensive recon-
struc tion led by the architect,
mathematician and astronomer

Nave and altar in the Church of St Casimir

The Madonna of Mercy, seen through the window of the Gates of Dawn

Tomas Žebrauskas (1714–58)
in the 1750s. Much of the
interior was destroyed in
1812, when Napoleon’s Army
used the church as a granary.
It became a Russian Orthodox
church during the 19th cen-
tury, when onion domes were
added to it.
It served as a Lutheran
church for the German Army
during World War I, and was
then returned to the Jesuits
and restored in the 1920s. The
central dome was rebuilt in
1942 and a crown was added.
The Soviets used the church
as a museum of atheism from

  1. It was reconsecrated in
    1991 after heavy renovation.

Gates of Dawn^0
Aušros Vartai

Aušros vartų 12. Map D5. Tel (5)
212 3513. 5 7:30am, 9am, 10am,
5:30pm, 6:30pm Mon–Sat, 9am,
9:30am, 11am, 6:30pm Sun.

The Classical chapel of Gates
of Dawn follows the centuries-
old custom of having a chapel
or a religious image in every
gateway to safeguard a city
from out side enemies and
protect departing travel lers.
This is the only gateway from
Vilnius’ original defen sive
walls to have survived a
series of attacks.
The focus of this chapel is
The Madonna of Mercy, an
image reputed to have miracle-
working powers. It was
painted on oak in the 1620s
and encased in silver 150 years
later. The miracles attributed
to it were faithfully recorded
by nuns at the neighbouring
Carmelite convent. Hundreds
of hearts of different sizes
stand out on plates of silver
around the painting.
The image was originally
placed on the gate, in a recess,
with shutters to protect it
from the elements, but was
shifted to a wooden chapel in
the 17th century. The chapel
that houses the image today
dates from 1829, when it was
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