Saturday, 30 March 2013

A BIT OF BAROQUE IN VILNIUS




I was in Vilnius for a week’s work and was able to carve out an afternoon to see some of the city’s important churches. This is capital of Lithuania with some of its city walls intact and people beetle about in boots and thick coats to keep out the cold (minus 8 most days) and snow flurries up and down the streets.Vilnius is very much a northern European place with its classical and baroque buildings mixed in with the orthodox ‘mushroom-doom’ minarets of the Russian times.

The city’s Cathedral was a lofty classic building with its plain warm grey interior and broad nave and narrow side aisles. Throughout my time here women would slip into the pews to make their devotions.  This idea of popping in to pray was a characteristic of each place I visited. One could easily imagine that it was a well planned as a tea break and as important.



Napoleon when he conquered here wanted to take St Anne’s church back to Paris with him, so delighted with the place he was. It is a baroque ornament; its white interior and fading frescos are contradicted by some wonderful woodcarvings that are wrapped around each of the pillars that comprise calm nave.  I sat in silence and drew these flights of fancy and looking back on my efforts they seem just as momentary and my rest here.
St Anne’s church a baroque jewel
Making my way through the University buildings and quads I at last gained access to most impressive baroque churches, the Church of St. John. The church is beautifully integrated into the

 University’s architectural complex. I sat down to drawn representation of its tall façade, sitting on a step opposite and quickly froze.


Walking up through the city I eventually reached the Gate of Dawn where the walls of Vilnius are readily visible. In the sixteenth century city gates often contained religious objects intended to guard the city from attack and to bless travellers. The 


the Church of St. John
tiny Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. As I sat of to the side of the rich alter and drew this jewel-box, people came and went, briefly 
kneeling to make devotions to the Blessed Mother and supplicate for their own hopes and prayers.


People came and went, briefly kneeling to make devotions 
From the Gate of Dawn I walked back to the hotel stopping again for another warming coffee. The delightful café’s are everywhere serving good espresso’s to thaw the artist’s hand; a lovely afternoon of baroque and 
devotions.