Bernardine Cemetery is probably the best place for autumn reflections and some unexpected discoveries.
The second-oldest cemetery in Vilnius, Bernardine Cemetery is located in Užupis on the right bank of the Vilnia River. It’s also one of the most beautiful local historical and cultural objects of the 19th century, characterised by classicism features. The cemetery was declared a monument of history of republican significance in 1969.
Founded in 1810, the Bernardine Cemetery has been the eternal resting place of various cultural, social and scientific figures for over 200 years.
The Bernardine Cemetery, located in Užupis, between Polockas and Žvirgždyno streets on the right bank of the Vilnia River, was established in 1810.
The date of the foundation of the cemetery is evidenced by the construction of a stone chapel in Classicism style. A Polish memorial plaque on the chapel’s foundation once declared that the cemetery belonged to the Bernardine Church of Vilnius, who held its first mass there.
A stone fence, a gate with a bell tower and a wooden gate resembling a country house, as well as a guardhouse surrounded the cemetery in 1812.
In 1814, the cemetery became the parish cemetery of the Bernardine Church. Columbariums were soon built; coffins were put in their niches and they were bricked up.
A chapel was built in 1827, and a crypt with catacombs was installed in its underground. In the 19th century, the cemetery resembled a park. Trees, shrubs, a stone-paved main path and smaller paths overlooking the river attracted city dwellers, and tombstone inscriptions invited people to stop and pray.
The Bernardine Cemetery acquired its present image in 1861 after an attempt was made to remove it, but Tsar Alexander II lifted the order to close the cemetery.
In terms of area, the cemetery is three times smaller than the Rasai Cemetery, and contains many prominent scholars, as well as various renowned cultural and social figures.
Bernardine Cemetery, along with the Rasai Cemetery, was declared a monument of history of republican significance in 1969. Burials at this particular cemetery ceased in 1967, except in exceptional cases at family burials.