The Church of St. Anne – Vilnius, Lithuania - Atlas Obscura

The Church of St. Anne

Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte fell in love with this Gothic church.  


Standing tall above the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, St. Anne’s Church has watched history unfold around it. The 500-year-old church remains a prime example of Gothic architecture so beautiful, it’s said Napoleon Bonaparte fell in love with the cathedral. 

The Church of St. Anne was built for Anna, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, and wife to Vytautas the Great. The church was burned down in 1419 and then rebuilt in brick on the orders of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander I Jagiellon. Consecrated back in 1500, the facade seen today is largely unchanged since its reconstruction in the 1400s. 

It is unclear exactly who is the genius architect behind St. Anne, although theories point to Michael Enkinger—an architect of a church of the same name in Warsaw— or Benedikt Rejt. What is clear is that St. Anne is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, using dramatic archways, a symmetrical facade, and ornate pillars. 

According to legend, the church is so captivating that Napoleon Bonaparte—who spotted the church during the Franco-Russian War in 1812—wished to carry the church home with him to Paris “in the palm of his hand.” 

Know Before You Go

Check the official website for visiting hours and information, prior to your travels. 

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December 13, 2018

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