About Church of St Anne – Vilnius
The Church of St Anne in Vilnius is a strikingly beautiful gothic church in the city’s old centre. It forms a part of the area’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
History of Church of St Anne
Built on the former site of an early fifteenth century wooden church, it took around five years to construct the Church of St Anne, which was completed at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was built for Anna, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, wife to Vytautas the Great, and was consecrated in 1500.
Most of the structure remains true to its original architecture, although some changes were made in the mid-late sixteenth century and renovations have been carried out over the years, including in 2009. Most notably original is the stunning façade, which remains unchanged since its reconstruction in the 1400s.
The church is a prominent example of Flamboyant Gothic and Brick Gothic styles, and is considered to be one of the most interesting examples of Gothic architecture in Lithuania. The distinctive red hue of the Church of St Anne can be attributed to the thirty-three types of clay brick used to construct it.
According to legend, the church is so striking that Napoleon Bonaparte spotted the church during the Franco-Russian war of 1812 and subsequently wished to carry the church home to Paris ‘in the palm of his hand.’
Church of St Anne Today
Today, The Church of St Anne is grouped with the neighbouring Saints Francis and Bernardine Church, with tourist routes going through both. Much of the area’s history is still visible within the fabric of the building’s architecture: for instance, at the beginning of the 16th century the church was incorporated into the construction of Vilnius defensive wall, so you can see shooting openings in its walls.
Tours are available in English, Lithuanian and Russian, and there is a regular programme of worship.
Getting to Church of St Anne
From the centre of Vilnius, The Church of St Anne is reachable in around 15 minutes by foot via the Gedimino pr. road. By car, it takes around 7 minutes via Tilto g. road.