Today, most people associate the Gates of Dawn with a house of prayer. However, a few centuries ago, the name Gates of Dawn referred to part of Vilnius’ defensive wall. At that time, the city’s defensive wall had ten gates, though the Gates of Dawn are the only ones to have survived to the present day. The structure’s defensive function is reflected by the firing openings that are still visible on the outside of the gate.
The Gates of Dawn were first mentioned in 1514 and have since become one of the symbols of Vilnius.
Initially, these gates were called the Medininkai Gates because they led the way to Medininkai. The current name may have come from the Sharp Gate. for they stand on the outskirts of the city, which were then called Sharp. Another origin story holds that the gates were on the eastern side, where you could first see dawn. The Virgin Mary was called the Star of Dawn, which could have also inspired the name Gates of Dawn.
In the 17th century, a separate wooden chapel was erected near the Gates of Dawn and a magical image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was placed there. However, a brick chapel replaced the wooden one following a fire. The chapel acquired its present late classicism appearance in the 19th century following a reconstruction project.
The miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy in the Gates of Dawn is one of the most famous Renaissance paintings in Lithuania. It’s also called the Madonna of the Gates of Dawn or the Madonna of Vilnius. It was painted specifically for this chapel in the 17th century, following the example of Dutch painter Martin de Vos. The painting is worshiped and regarded as magical by Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. It is known worldwide.
The Chapel of Gates of Dawn
The Church of St. Teresė
Entrance is free