In the middle of Vilnius Old Town, you will find one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Lithuania. It’s a magnificent building surrounded by impressive historical sites that are worth to explore while staying in Vilnius.
Moreover, Vilnius Cathedral Basilica isn’t a place where only pilgrims are used to visiting, it’s a site with a rich history and architectural treasure.
History of Vilnius Cathedral Basilica
The first Cathedral of Vilnius was built in the XIII century but shortly after the death of King Mindaugas, it was turned into a pagan temple.
In 1387, a new Gothic cathedral with five compasses was built in place of the former pagan temple. Unfortunately, it burned just over 30 years later. After a while, Vilnius Cathedral was rebuilt by Grand Duke Vytautas, who ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at that time.
Barely a century later, the Cathedral was devastated by a terrible fire again and once again it was rebuilt. Until the middle of the XVIII century, Vilnius Cathedral was devastated and rebuilt at least once a century.
In 1783, Vilnius Cathedral was reconstructed according to a project prepared by architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius. This reconstruction fundamentally changed the view of Vilnius Cathedral because the new architecture of the cathedral mostly reflected the features of classicism.
During its long life, Vilnius Cathedral wasn’t always known as a house of prayer. Once in the middle of the XIX century, it was transferred to the Art Museum. In 1956, a gallery of paintings was installed in the cathedral.
Nevertheless, in 1988, Vilnius Cathedral has again declared a prayer house. Five years later, with the help of sculptor S. Kuzma, sculptures that once adorned the Vilnius Cathedral façade were restored.
One of the most important events in the history of the Vilnius Cathedral took place on September 4, 1993, when Pope John Paul II began his apostolic visit to Lithuania at the Cathedral.