Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1

Façade of St John’s Church and
adjoining bell tower


Vilniaus universitetas

Universiteto 3. Map D3. Tel (5) 268

  1. 10am–5:30pm Mon–Sat.

    8 for prior booking call (5) 268

  2. = http://www.vu.lt

The oldest university in
Eastern Europe, Vilnius
University was founded as a
Jesuit College in 1568 before
becoming a school of higher
education in 1579. The
current campus, constructed
between the 16th and 18th
centuries, is a combination of
different architectural styles.
Lithuania’s largest university,
it has 13 courtyards and
multiple buildings. The most
impressive of its courtyards,
the Great Courtyard has open

Colourful interior of Littera, with its collection of books and study material, Vilnius University

St John’s Church 7
šv Jono bažnyčia

Universiteto 3/šv Jono 12. Map D3.
Tel (5) 611 795. # 10am–5pm Mon–
Sat. 5 6pm Mon–Sat, 11am Sun.

At the southern edge of the
Vilnius University campus,
the imp ressive façade of the
Church of St John the Baptist
and St John the Evangelist
and the nearby bell tower
dominate the Great Courtyard.
The original Gothic church,
built here in 1426, was recon-
structed in 1749 in flamboyant
Baroque by Jan Krzysztof
Glaubitz (1700–67). He
was the most influential of
Vilnius’s late-Baroque archi-
tects and one of the creators
of the distinct school known
as Vilnius Baroque.
The magnificent structure
boasts an overwhelming
four-tier façade made up of
clusters of columns. The
church has ten imposing
altars that are interconnected.
These faux marble altars with
Corinthian columns illuminate
the otherwise austere interior.
Initially, there were 22 col-
umns, most of which were
removed during further rebuil-
ding in the 19th century. At
68 m (223 ft), the bell tower,
which was given two addi-
tional tiers by Glaubitz,
is considered the tallest
structure in the Old Town.

centuries, illustrating the
heavy impact that Christian
themes had on traditional
mediums such as sculpture.
The collection includes way-
side wooden crosses, shrines,
saints and rūpintojėlis
(Lithuanian local represen-
tations of a weary Christ hold-
ing his head in his right hand).
Particularly illuminating is the
work of Vincas Svirskis (1835–
1916), a prolific craftsman
who carved many shrines for
farmsteads and villages in the
Kėdainiai and Kaunas regions.

galleries dating from the 17th
century, which were later
lined with dedications to
professors. Accessed via a
passage from the western side
of the Great Courtyard, the
Observatory Courtyard by
contrast is a serene enclosed
garden from which the
observatory and its zodiac
symbols can be seen.
Sarbievius Courtyard, the
oldest part of the campus, is
located north of the Great
Courtyard and at its far end,
is the bookshop Littera.
Frescoes carica turing profes-
sors and students decorate its
interior. These were painted
in 1978 by Lithuanian artist
Antanas Kmieliauskas.
Free download pdf