Kaunas Cathedral Basilica – Lithuania's Largest Gothic Sacral Building

Gorgeous interior

Lithuania has only one Gothic cathedral basilica: Kaunas Cathedral, the largest Gothic religious structure in the country. The church, built in the 15th century, has been reconstructed several times and thus features Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Neo-Gothic, and Neo-Baroque elements. This sacred building is on Lithuania's national list of cultural monuments.


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A cathedral is a city's main church and one of its most beautiful and historically significant structures. Kaunas Cathedral is no exception, and a trip to Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city,  would be incomplete without a visit to this historic landmark.


When in the city, I enjoy admiring the church's magnificent interior. It is well worth a visit. Just relax and take in the interior splendor.


Kaunas Cathedral Basilica in Photos

Kaunas Cathedral
View of the cathedral from Aleksotas Hill

Amazing interior
The cathedral's interior

Catholic Cathedral interior
The vaulted right lateral nave with the altar of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the cathedral's only surviving wooden Baroque work

Beautiful wall
The cathedral's interior details

Cathedral fresco
One of the plot paintings depicting St. Peter on the sidewall of the middle nave above a vault

Beautiful interior
The cathedral's interior

Confessional
The cathedral's confessional

Church Organ
The organ

Baroque Altar
Sculptures of saints adorn the two-tiered high altar

The Church's Brief History


The Kaunas Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 15th century by Lithuanian Duke Vytautas the Great to perpetuate the Samogitian baptism. Originally made of bricks in Gothic style, the church was one of Kaunas' older buildings. Still, at that time, it was not yet like today as its triple naves date back only to 1660.


In 1700, according to written data, there were nine altars in the church interior. Two massive typical of that period towers decorated the exterior of the building. Several wars and fires destroyed the church. In 1771, thanks to Stanislaus II Augustus, Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, it received completed construction. The majestic high altar, still standing today, dates back to 1775.


Pope Leo XIII bestowed the cathedral title on the church in 1895. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV declared it a basilica. Pope Pius XI designated Kaunas Cathedral as an archcathedral in 1926.


Architecture


The cathedral is a rectangular three-nave basilica made of unplastered bricks. A massive 55 m (180 ft) high tower stands in the southwest corner. The building exterior and the tower feature Renaissance-style décor.


During the second half of the 18th century, the church acquired its current interior with the help of residents and noble foundations. There are seven Baroque altars and an 18th-century pulpit in the interior. The most expressive altar is the high altar with the Crucifix and apostle statues. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary wooden altar from the 17th century, with two paintings, is also noteworthy.


A Gothic presbytery with a three-tiered apse adorns the east side, while a Neo-Gothic chapel stands on the southeast. The first and second floors of the sacristy on the northeast feature crystal vaults from the 15th century, one of the widest in Europe!


Janas Čajevičius painted oil frescoes covering most of the church walls and vaults in 1894. Over the arches of the middle nave are eight large plot paintings dedicated to St. Peter, and on the right, to St. Paul. Other areas of the vaults and walls have Neo-Baroque ornaments such as figurative decorations and floral motifs.


The organ with a Neo-Gothic façade was created in 1882 by Vilnius organ master Juozapas Radavičius. With 63 registers, this three-manual keyboard instrument was Lithuania's biggest for over a century.


How to Get There


The cathedral stands at the beginning of Vilnius Street, in the heart of the Old Town, near the Town Hall. The building is accessible to people with disabilities.

Address: Vilniaus g. 1, 44281 Kaunas, Lithuania


By Public Transportation:

Bus (lines 6, 6A, 20, 22, 26, 31, 31A): Vilniaus g.


Opening Hours & Ticket Prices


There is no admission fee. Please check the church's website for operating hours.


Where to Stay in Kaunas


Booking.com offers a wide range of lodging options, various discounts, and exceptional customer service. Click here for a list of places to stay in Kaunas.


Booking.com


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Have you ever visited the cathedral? Do you agree it looks splendid? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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