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Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit, Vilnius, Lithuania | by Ferry Vermeer
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Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit, Vilnius, Lithuania

The Church of the Holy Spirit, or the Dominican Church, is one of the most monumental and ornate churches of Vilnius. It is a magnificent mature and late baroque building. It is thought that a small (probably wooden) church already existed in this location in Gediminas days. Vytautas, in place of the wooden one that burned down, built the Church of the Holy Spirit, which later was enlarged and in 1501 was given by Aleksandras Jogailaitis to the oldest Dominican chapter in Lithuania. (The walls of the church have survived from those times.) During 1753–1770 the Dominicans built a new church and enlarged the monastery. The church stands with its side facing the street and lacks a clearly visible main façade. The top of its dome reaches 51 m or 167 ft. The exterior of the church contains both mature and late baroque elements. The interior is in the rococo style and is distinguished by playful and fantastic decorations; this is one of the most valuable church interiors in Lithuania. The church has sixteen altars. The massive but dynamic and plastic altars form a harmonic composition, which also includes a pulpit and confessional, are combined into one unit. The choir loft, supported by curved columns, is very interesting. The church’s organ is the only almost entirely original instrument remaining from the 18th century in Lithuania. The three-tiered buildings of the monastery surround an almost square cloister garth, in which in the 18th century stood a pole-shrine to commemorate the victims of the plague. The corridors of the cloister still contain frescos from the 18th century.

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Taken on June 28, 2010