Barcelona has the Sagrada Familia and Vilnius has the Church of St. Anne. The church has remained almost unchanged over the last five centuries and is one of the most beautiful and probably the most famous buildings in Vilnius. It is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture and is surrounded by many legends. The most famous of them recounts how Napoleon wanted to take the church back with him to Paris in his palm. Next to the church stands a bell tower built in the 19th century, imitating the Gothic style. And the church is already an inseparable symbol of Vilnius.
The Bernardine Historical-Architectural Ensemble is a unique urban complex in Vilnius Old Town. In addition to the well-known Church of Francis of Assisi (Bernardine), and the Church of St. Anne, it includes the Bernardine Monastery.
The monastery, like the Bernardine Church, was built in the 15th century and repeatedly reconstructed. The monastery’s Gothic layout has survived to this day, with many authentic facades, interior elements and forms still in tact. In the 16th century, three two-storey blocks of the monastery were erected, and together with the church, surrounded a closed rectangular-shaped courtyard.
Stellars and cross vaults in the ceiling of the monastery's corridors will leave you breathless. The walls are covered in Gothic and Renaissance paintings, a 16th century Renaissance portal in the sacristy and ornate 15th century forged metal doors century remain.
The Bernardine Historical Architectural Ensemble was permanently destroyed in 1869-1870 by the paved street going right through the facade of the Church of St. Anne's. It cut the Bernardine Garden and churchyard, destroying the outer monastery and church ensemble. At the beginning of the 20th century, the third floor was built in the monastery. In 1919 and 1923, the interior was reconstructed to accommodate the Faculty of Fine Arts of Vilnius University, later reorganised into the Vilnius Academy of Arts.