St. Peter and St. Paul's Church

A church best representing baroque style in Lithuania is the St. Peter and St. Pauls` church in Vilnius, Antakalnis area. This church is well known for its impressive interior. According to a legend at the same place where the church stands nowadays there stood a temple for Milda, Lithuanian pagan goddess of love and matchmaking.

At the same place a wooden church was built in 1500 for the first time. It burnt in1594 and a new  wooden one was here erected again in 1616. This one was also devastated during a war in 1655. In 1668 building works of nowadays stone church began. The works were financed by Lithuanian nobleman Mykolas Pacas and mostly managed by Italian architect Frediani Giambattista.

When the main structure was finished, the church was decorated by Italian sculptors native of Perti and Galli families. These families had decorated churches in all over Europe and there were no one who doubted about their talent and professionalism. St. Peter and St. Pauls` church in Vilnius is agreed to be the top of their mastership in plastic art. Nowadays still more than 2000 stucco statues made by Italian masters in the 17th century beautify an interior of the church. When Mykolas Pacas died, he was buried in the basement of the same church. By the way, some historical sources say that Mykolas Pacas was quiet a sever man, typical devotional knight of baroque period. He reached the highest possible top in his military carrier then and wanted to implement the last purpose – to build a grandiose temple symbolizing his own values for which he fought so hard the whole life. Obviously, he reached his last purpose too. In 1701 the church was consecrated as church of St. Peter and St. Pauls`. Hundred years later an interior was restored. The old wooden altar was replaced with a painting of famous Lithuanian artist Panciškus Smuglevičius named “ Farewell of St. Peter and Paul”, beside the painting four sculptures of prophets were also here erected. During ruling of tsarist government, the church was about to become an orthodox church, but luckily, Russian local officers were too lazy to implement the order. Their idleness and lack of finances rescued baroque decorations from irreversible destruction. In the beginning of 20th century, the church was restored one more time. Then the beautiful ship-shaped chandelier was hanged here, new organs were constructed. The Second World War damaged the cupola of the church. But later, despite tough repressions of Soviet government, the church was supervised and repeated renovations of interior and exterior were implemented.

Nowadays St. Peter and St. Pauls` church is often visited by tourists. Pilgrims coming here mostly worship  paintings of St. Mary and the one called “Plague in Vilnius” that hang there and are thought to be miracle. The whole interior of the church looks like a miracle as it is an authentic example of late baroque. It is one-nave church of cross shape including cupola. As soon as you get in, it seems you accessed a mysterious world of symbols, baroque views and philosophy. Although there are so many individual details, they unite into one scheme telling secrets and history in cipher.