Vilnius Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Vilnius Cathedral

Vilnius, Vilnius County, Lithuania

Vilnius Cathedral has been the site of coronations and is the burial site of many prominent Lithuanians.

Peta Stamper

07 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Vilnius Cathedral

Vilnius Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St Stanislaus and St Vladislav, is located in the UNESCO listed historic old town of Vilnius in Lithuania. The church is the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania, and literally the resting place of the heart of Polish king and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Wladyslaw IV Vasa. The rest of his body was buried at Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.

Vilnius Cathedral history

Several churches and cathedrals have been built on the site where Vilnius Cathedral is located, the earliest believed to have been constructed by Lithuanian Grand Duke Mindaugas in 1251. Although it is also thought that in pre-Christian times the Baltic pagan god Perkunas was worshipped where the cathedral stands.

However, a succession of fires meant that Vilnius Cathedral has undergone a series of further incarnations. While some earlier elements have survived, such as over ten of its chapels, the current structure mostly dates back to the 18th century.

Over the years, many events of national significance have taken place at Vilnius Cathedral, such as the coronations of several of Lithuania’s Grand Dukes. During the Soviet regime the cathedral was first converted into a warehouse and it was not until 1988 that masses were once again said at Vilnius Cathedral.

Vilnius Cathedral today

Many of the country’s most famous and important figures (or parts of them) are also contained within Vilnius Cathedral, including medieval ruler Vytautas the Great and Grand Duke Alexander Jogailaitis.

Vilnius Cathedral also houses works of art, many dating back to the 16th century. One of its oldest pieces is a fresco called ‘The Crucifixion’ which is believed to date back to the 14th century, making it the country’s oldest wall painting.

Getting to Vilnius Cathedral

Located in Cathedral Square just south of the Neris riverbank and beside Kalnu parkas, Vilnius Cathedral is easily found on foot or via public transport. You can catch the number 10 or 33 buses to Arkikatedra and walk the very short distance over to the cathedral.

Featured In

Lithuania Historic Sites

As the largest of the three Baltic states, Lithuania has experienced a changeable history under the rule of a variety of political and cultural systems. Here's a selection of 10 of the best sites you shouldn't miss.