Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislaus
This is one of Lithuania’s oldest churches. Its first mention in historical sources dates to 1387.
During the Soviet era (1949-1988) the cathedral was closed, and for a lengthy period it housed the Vilnius Art Gallery.
The cathedral was returned to the faithful and solemnly re-consecrated in 1988. The relics of St. Casimir, patron of Lithuania and youth, were also returned to here. They are venerated in the ornate Chapel of St. Casimir, which is one of the most valuable baroque monuments in the country.
The Goštautas Chapel contains the Sapiega Madonna painting, which in 1750 was adorned with crowns blessed by the pope in recognition of the many graces obtained by people who prayed before it.
The crypts of Vilnius Cathedral were a burial place for distinguished noblemen, rulers and bishops of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1985, the treasury of the cathedral was discovered, including masterpieces of Lithuanian goldsmithing.
Pope John Paul II began his historic visit to Lithuania 25 years ago with a prayer at Vilnius Cathedral.
This is one of Lithuania’s main squares. It is a venue for important national, religious and cultural events.
From Cathedral Square, key structures of the city and the country can be seen: Vilnius Cathedral and its bell tower, Gediminas Castle, and the Palace of the Grand Dukes.
In the 13th century, Vilnius’s Lower Castle and defensive wall stood here. Their former contours are indicated by red stones in the current paving of the square.
Gate of Dawn Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Theresa’s Church
The Gate of Dawn Chapel is one of the oldest places of pilgrimage in Lithuania. The residents of Vilnius honour Mary as Protectress of the city.
The Gothic-style Gate of Dawn is the only surviving gate of the defensive wall which was built in Vilnius in the 16th century.
The image of the Virgin Mary was painted in the early 17th century, on oak boards, based on a work by the Dutch artist Martin de Vos. It is a rare example of the Madonna portrayed without the Child Jesus.
In 1927 the painting was adorned with crowns blessed by Pope Pius XI and granted the title Mother of Mercy.
The Gate of Dawn Chapel is part of a network linking 20 of Europe’s most important Marian shrines.
Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Lithuania in 1993, said a Rosary at the Gate of Dawn Chapel.
Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
This is the former office of the KGB, where from 1940 to 1991 Soviet crimes in Lithuania were planned and carried out.
A museum began to operate here in 1992, after Lithuania had regained independence and the last foreign soldier had left.
The basement of the building still contains the prison and interrogation ward where Lithuanians with whom the occupying forces were displeased were imprisoned.
One of the former prison cells contains a special exhibition dedicated to priests who were held and tortured in the building.
Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, whom the Pope beatified one year ago, was imprisoned in the basement of this building.
Presidential Palace and Simonas Daukantas Square
When Lithuania adopted Christianity in 1387, the land on which the present ensemble of the Lithuanian Presidential Palace stands was given as a gift to the bishop of Vilnius.
Following Lithuania’s incorporation into the Russian empire, the Bishops Palace here became the official residence of the Russian Governor General. In Soviet times it served as a centre first for military officers and later for artists.
Today the Palace is the office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania.
Daukantas Square in front of the Presidential Palace is where official state flag raising ceremonies are held.
Santakos (Confluence) Park
Twenty-five years ago, Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass in this park at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris Rivers.
In 2011, a bronze monument was unveiled at the site to commemorate the Pope’s visit in 1993.
The park is just a few steps from the Kaunas Old Town. It is beloved by many: from tourists and families with small children, to the elderly and athletes. A variety of cultural, artistic and sporting events are held here.
The eastern part of Santakos (Confluence) Park contains the St. George the Martyr Church and Bernardine Monastery as well as the archdiocesan seminary and Kaunas Castle.
Kaunas Cathedral Basilica of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul
This church was first mentioned in written sources in 1413. It was founded by Vytautas Magnus, Grand Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
In 1895, Pope Leo XIII granted the church the status of cathedral.
Pope Benedict XV declared it a basilica in 1921, amid celebrations of the fifth centenary of the Diocese of Samogitia.
In 1926, with the establishment of a Lithuanian ecclesiastical province, Pope Pius XI granted Kaunas Cathedral the title of archcathedral.
Following reconstructions, expansions and renovations in the course of its history, this cathedral is today considered one of the largest neo-Gothic monuments in Lithuania.
Pope John Paul II prayed here in September 1993.