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St Anne's and Bernadine's Churches

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St. Anne's Church is one of the most beautiful and famous buildings in Vilnius.

It is presumed that the original (wooden) St. Anne's Church was built in the 14th century by Ona, the wife of Vytautas the Great. The first historical reference to St. Anne's Church dates back to 1394.

It is thought that the brick church was built during 1495 - 1500 through the efforts of the Franciscans. This is a real late gothic masterpiece; of which there are few comparable buildings in the entire world. The church has reached our time almost unchanged and has become one of the symbols of Vilnius.

The church is surrounded by many legends. The most popular story is that Napoleon upon seeing St. Anne's Church, said that he would like to place it in the palm of his hand and move it to Paris. The church, built using thirty-three kinds of bricks, has already stood for five centuries in the lee of the severe Bernardine gothic style, amazing everyone with the courage and ingenuity of the masters who erected it. This amazingly light, harmonious, and playful building is distinguished by the rhythmic composition of its vertical and curved lines: above the portal there are no flat wall surfaces, only pilasters, slim rod squares, three kinds of arches, and elegant spires crowned with metal crosses. According to the art critic, Vladas Drėma, the ancient Lithuanian arms, i.e. the Pillars of Gediminas (Gedimino stulpai) are highlighted in the composition of the facade. The side facades and presbytery, with their high windows and openwork towers are also very complex.

A neo-gothic bell tower (1873) designed by the architect, N. Tchiagin, and built to replace the previous classical one, stands next to the church.

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