Church of St. Francis from Assisi, Vi...
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Panoramic photo by Jonas Nosalis EXPERT Taken 05:59, 16/05/2013 - Views loading...


Church of St. Francis from Assisi, Vilnius

The World > Europe > Lithuania

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In Lithuania the Bernardine history began in the middle of XV century, when Franciscans observants (called Bernardines) came to Grand Duchy of Lithuania with missions. In 1469 king Kazimieras Jogailaitis donated a plot of land near Vilnele river, where were started to build a church and a monastery.

The first wooden church burnt in 1475. Soon a stone church was started to be built. It was not yet finished when around 1500 year part of church had to be demolished due to constructional mistakes, only chancel and sacristy were saved. The second stone church was built on this substructure. The church even a little bit changed still stands today. The church is the greatest and the oldest late Gothic building of the Bernardine ensemble.

In XVI century after bricking Vilnius defense wall, buildings of the church and convent were joined into common defense system. In XVI century after fire the church was embellished with cross, starry and crystal vaults, and walls were decorated with frescos. After XVI-XVII centuries rebuilding, features of baroque and renaissance style have highlighted in the church: renaissance pediment, tomb monuments, wooden altars, and pulpit. Friars were expelled after 1863 rebellion, the church remained open, but the monastery was nationalized. The ensemble mostly suffered after closing in 1949. It a was warehouse during Soviet times.  The shrine started to recover rapidly after coming back of real owners, friars minor. The Bernardine historical – architectural ensemble has been declared the monument of cultural heritage of Lithuania, and in 2008 it was granted status of cultural project of significance to the state.

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Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.

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Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".

Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.

Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.

In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. 

Text by Steve Smith.

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