Ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery

The ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery is one of the most impressive architectural examples of late Italian baroque in North East Europe.  For this beautiful masterpiece now we should be thankful for the  Great Chancellor Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac of Grand Duchy of Lithuania who founded it in 1662.

The ensemble was built in 17-18th centuries on a beautiful hill on Nemunas river shore. The hill was called Mons Pacis  (Peace Hill). The name had two meanings. Pacis was the last name of the main mover of this project while the meaning of peace symbolized the atmosphere that was strongly felt in here.

The sacral complex was created by Italian architects Frediani, Puttini, Merli. German artist Wolscheid created the sculptures of the Great Gates. Italian painters Palloni and Rossi created frescos, paintings and altars. Building and decorating works took long time. Pažaislis church and monastery was finally finished in 1712.

1812 was the first time when the ensemble suffered from human attacks. The Napoleon army robbed and devastated the monastery. Later, czarist government commanded to close the monastery until it will be suitable for confession of orthodox religion. Many changes were then made to original appearance of Pažaislis church and monastery. Despite the fact that Czar Nikolai the 1st was pleasantly surprised with the beauty of baroque style of the ensemble, he ordered to change some of the original elements according to orthodox religion. Altars were removed, white habits of monks painted on frescos were colored black, some scenarios of frescos were changed, others were hidden with paints.

1915 the ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery was barbarously devastated and robbed by German military. Luckily, in 1920 it was returned to Roman Catholics and entrusted for restoration and care to sisters of the Lithuanian convent of St. Casimir. After the Second World War, the ensemble was converted into an archive and psychiatric hospital by Soviet government. Later it became an art gallery in 1966. Only in 1990 when Lithuania got back its independence, Pažaislis church and monastery were returned to sisters of the Lithuanian convent of St. Casimir. Restoration works began again.

Nowadays the ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery is both – saint place for congregation and a real museum for art lovers. More than 140 various frescos, the famous picture of Mother of God, beauty of outside and outside architecture faze everyone. In addition to this, since 1996 an annual music festivals of sacral and alternative music are held there. Thousands of people come here every year for many reasons: ones are looking for relaxation and art, other are interested in architecture and legends about the ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery, the rest are willing to find the deepest answers  coming from their soul.