St. Nicolas’ Church

Juozapas Kamarauskas. Church of St Nicholas. 1889. Lithuanian National Museum of Art

Look at the charming architectural imperfections of St. Nicolas’ Church: the churchyard of unusual shape, the fence that looks as though it is “was in waves,” the asymmetrical building. However, these masonry structures have been standing in Vilnius since the times of the city’s establishment – St. Nicolas’ Church is also called the oldest Catholic temple in Vilnius.

It was built at the end of the 14th century and established for the craftsmen and merchants of the Hanseatic League invited to Lithuania during the reign of Duke Gediminas, who preferred to settle in the Western part of the city. This is also evidenced by the traditional title of St. Bishop Nicolas of Myra – the patron of travellers, merchants, craftsmen, captives and children.

The simple, thick walls of the church and moderate decorations reflect its archaic origin. Although the church has been re-built and restored several times over the centuries, its exterior has not changed. In the 20th century, St. Nicolas’ Church became the hearth of the Lithuanian language, culture and identity. In 1959, a sculpture of St. Christopher made by Antanas Kmieliauskas was erected in the courtyard of the church.


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