Monday, July 22, 2013

Vilnius university architectural ensemble

Monday, July 22, 2013
The one thing that normally pisses me off while travelling is having to pay ridiculous entrance fees. I'm sure that if you had to pay to see a church in Italy, you know what I mean. I consider some places should be open to everyone, so the entrance fee to the ensemble of Vilnius university irked me for a long time. It's a public place, why should one pay? I was pretty sure the state finances it, anyway. Well, this is why travel broadens the mind: the place is pure gold, that's why it's worth every cent.

Until the XVIth century the Great Duchy of Lithuania didn't have a university, so rich and influential people went to universities in Poland, Italy, Germany and studied there. Fortunately or not, the movement of Reformation was spreading in Europe and people were converting to the new faith. I'm not going to dwell into the details but Reformation included some ideas like simplicity of the church and absence of priests as intermediaries between people and God. Considering many people paid a tenth of their income to the church until XIXth century, many were happy about simplifying the faith. The order of Jesuits was invited to Vilnius to establish a higher educational institution to prevent people from going abroad and being involved in the new faith. First, they opened a college but that was not enough, -a university was the ideal. Both Catholic bishop and king were for but a Reformant chancellor of state was against and he twice refused to put the Great Majestic Seal of the state on the documents lifting the status of the college to the one of the university. We had quite a situation back then, when documents without such a seal had no validity even though the King had issued it. Finally, it was sealed with the Small Majestic Seal but not without a fight. The long and glorious history of Vilnius university dates back to 1579 and still lives on. More of it at Wikipedia: Vilnius University.

Chart of Vilnius University.
You enter the courtyard of the university via the open courtyard number 3. Before doing that make sure you pop in the ticket office right left to the entrance and pay 5 LT for your ticket. You will also be given a map of the ensemble.

Follow the Map for your Tour.
I don't believe that in-depth history of each of the courtyards will interest you much, so I will just put up some pictures for you to see.

A. Kmieliauskas frescoes in the bookshop.

The Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. 

The Altar of St. Victor.

St. Stanislav Kostka.
Did you know that churches were built in such a way that sunrays passed through stained glass windows and shone in the right place at the right time?

The Great Courtyard. 
Such arcades came from Italy with the movement of Renaissance in the XVIth century. However, our climate is far from being Italian and many arcades were bricked.

If you want to see more photos of the courtyards, you can look at the original blog post on my Lithuanian travel blog and don't worry about reading all the stuff there. Just enjoy the views.

The Panoramic View from the Tower.

Let me know if you have visited the courtyards of Vilnius University. 

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