Vilnius Cathedral is not only one of the finest buildings in architecture, it is also a fascinating and historic legacy of Lithuanian history.
Built in the mid-13th century, Vilnius Cathedral was commissioned by King Mindaugas, whose statue stands in front of the Latvian Historical Museum. In 1769, after its tower collapsed in a huge fire, it was used as a warehouse for a while, but was later restored and put into use.
The three statues on the front roof of the cathedral, which was damaged by various storms and fires, were added after 1820, the date of the new plan. The statues of St. Elena, St. Casimir and St. Stanislaw were created by the Lithuanian sculptor Kazimieras. The statues were destroyed by the Soviets and were restored by Stanislovas Kuzma in 1997.
Today it is located in Cathedral Square, near Sereikiskes Park. Cathedral Square is where the people joined hands to end the Soviet regime and began to sing the song of freedom, forming the longest human chain in history, 595 kilometers long, stretching towards Estonia. One year after this event in 1989, Lithuania was the first country to declare its independence from the USSR. The word Vilnius also means big wave in Lithuanian.
Vilnius Cathedral, the chief monument of the Polish-Lithuanian union, was originally called the Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav. The interior of the cathedral is covered with magnificent frescoes painted between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Many well-known dukes, priests and nobles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are buried inside Vilnius Cathedral. Alexander the Grand Duke Alexander the Great, King of Lithuania and Poland, Vytautas the Great, the grandson of Duke Gediminas are among the notable people buried here.
The bell tower near the cathedral is called the Belfry Cathedral. First built in the 13th century, the 2nd and 3rd floors of the cathedral were built in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 17th century, the last floor, which is today the top floor, was built and turned into a bell tower. The total length of the tower, including the cross at the end, is 57 meters.