CHURCHES IN VILNIUS, LITHUANIA

Orthodox Church of St. Paraskeva

June 1, 2019

Vilnius has  LOTS of churches.   Church steeples can be seen, in one direction or another, on every  street you  walk down. Visitors are welcome in all churches and free of charge to see inside.   During the time  of 1940 – 1991 when the Baltic States were under  Soviet  Occupation, private churches were ordered  to be shut down.  Most were then used for other Soviet purposes.  After 1991, when the Baltic States  regained their independence, the churches were returned to the appropriate religion and  most were restored and reopened.   Here are a few of the churches I visited……..

Vilnius Cathedral, the main basilica in the city, was  built in the 18th century.  It  is well known for it’s  St. Casimir  Chapel and  crypt that contains the remains of 2 Grand Dukes.

The  domed ceiling of St. Casimir’s Chapel is  intricately  beautiful.

Vilnius Cathedral and Belfry.

St Johns Church, located on the Vilnius University campus, was  originally built in  1426,  reconstructed  in 1749 and  more structures were added  on in the 19th century.

Gates of Dawn, the last standing of 5 – 16th century gate to Old Town……

houses the “Chapel of Mary, Mother of Mercy” and a painting of  the  Madonna.  It is a  site of  prayer and pilgrimage and thought to bring about  miracles.

The Gothic  Church of St. Anne was built with red brick  in 1500.

The Bernadine Church is located directly  behind St. Anne’s.

Church  of St. Anne’s alter.

Bernadine’s Church was built in 1525, and  in  1770’s  wooden alters and confessionals were added to the interior,  some of which still remain.

St Casimir’s Church has an especially beautiful interior.

The domed ceiling over the alter.

St. Casimir’s alter

Bird of the day – a white stork.  This  is from the day I arrived in Vilnius from Riga via a bus.   Along the way I kept noticing a stork or two  pecking around in the farmer’s  fields.   I stopped counting after I saw 20 of them, but of all the photos I took (from a moving bus) this was the best photo of the bunch.

Storks winter in Africa and then migrate to parts of Europe, including the Baltic States for breeding. They  build  a large stick nest , sometimes as large as 6 feet in diameter, which can last for years.  They return to the same nest year after year, although do not necessarily mate for life.

Storks are a sign of good luck and fertility , therefore farmers welcome them to their property and sometimes mount a wooden wagon wheel on a post to aid in the stork’s nest building.

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!

 

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Day Trip to TRAKAI ISLAND CASTLE in Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle

June 1, 2019

I am now in my final Baltic city, Vilnius, Lithuania, before heading back home in a few days.  Vilnius is a beautiful city  that I have fallen in love with, but today, I took a day trip to Trakai, a town about 40 minutes outside of Vilnius.   The Trakai Castle, which sits on an island  in Lake Galve,  was my destination,  The castle was first built in the 14th century but then destroyed in 1655 by a Russian invasion.  Then the  Soviet’s approved the reconstruction of  the  Castle and it was  completed  in 1987.

The inside of the  castle walls.

I didn’t expect the castle to be this fancy.

 

There was also a room with about 100 pipes on display.

There are lots of steps to climb!

This is the  (now dry) moat between the defensive wall and the castle.

The lake  is also a popular recreation  area for many Lithuanians.   If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent by the hour.

Or get a beverage…

There are also Karaite  colorful wooden houses  that line the streets  on one side of the lake.  Karaites are a small religious faith .   Their iconic three-windowed  homes  are a part of their heritage.  Their houses are built so that three windows always face the street. One window is for God, one is for the Grand Duke, and one if for family and friends and look like….

Many has cute little  gardens.  It was a fun day and the weather was beautiful!

Bird of the day….

Mama Duck and her babies.  She actually had a lot of babies  but most were hiding in the reeds.

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

LAST DAY IN RIGA, LATVIA

May 30, 2019

Riga is 800 years old and sits on the  River Daugava.  Riga has a long history of being occupied by  one foreign  country after another.   In 1991, Riga was given their independence from Russia.

My last day in Riga was spent walking their beautiful city, enjoying the wonderful architecture, the lush green parks and colorful flowers  one more time.

The Laima Clock has been a popular meeting place in Riga since 1924.  The name comes from the chocolate that it advertises.

This  Orthodox Cathedral is a 5-domed  house of prayer from the 19th century. The official name of the church is the Cathedral of Christ’s Nativity.   During the communist occupation  ( 1944 – 1991),  organized religion was outlawed in Riga and the church was used as a planetarium.

 

This  little furry guy was found curled up in this circular window on  busy street, oblivious to all the noise, people and traffic around him.

Bird of the day – a common and noisy seagull, skillfully  standing on my leg .

Stay tuned – I move onto Vilnius, Lithuania next!

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

HOUSE of BLACKHEADS in Riga, Latvia

May 30, 2019

The House of Blackheads was built in 1334  and was  the main meeting place for merchants. Later  a group of foreign merchants  known as the Brotherhood of the Blackheads  bought it in  1713 , thus the current name..  The Brotherhood had a great love for art and music and  house hosted many grand social events.

The Grand Hall

 

Many art pieces hung in the house.

The meeting room

Gallery of composers.

The building was destroyed  during World War II

The House of Blackheads  was rebuilt in 1999.

Hoped you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

BOURSE ART MUSEUM in Riga, Latvia

May 29, 2019

This was my day for museums and I also went to the Bourse Art Museum  in Riga which has a  diverse variety of art to enjoy.

The building that houses Bourse was built mid-19th century and is beautiful, inside and out.

Here are some of my favorites……

close up of the previous piece

 

Winter Landscape by Ziemas Ainava

Fish Seller by  Zivju Tirgotaja

close ups of the “Fish Seller”

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

RIGA ART NOUVEAU MUSEUM, Riga, Latvia

Looking up from the bottom of  the staircase in the building where the Art Nouveau Museum is located at Alberta iela 12.

May 29, 2019

This Art  Nouveau Museum celebrates the  style that Riga is so well known for.   The museum  is located in the  former apartment  of the  building’s  architect,  Konstantins Peksens,  who lived there around 1900.    Few of the items in the apartment are original but there are true  to the time period.

Alberta iela 12, built in 1903.   Here are a few photos of what home life looked like back then.

bedroom dressers

 

 

guessing this is a tea  warmer?

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

RUNDALE PALACE and GARDENS, Latvia

Rundale Palace

May 29, 2019

The adventure of the day was a day trip to Rundale Palace, which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Riga.  Rundale is an 18th  century mansion  built for Ernst Johann von Biron  (a Biron in Latvia) for his summer retreat..   Building started in 1736 and took  30 years and 1500 workers.  It has 138  rooms of which 40 rooms have been restored and can be toured.

Most of the  palace was ornate decorated.

 

Every room had a huge  beautifully  tiled ceramic heater.

 

This decoration was painted on the walls and the ceiling.

Interesting way to display a vase collection.

Perfume burner?

Many pieces of Meisson porcelain was  on display.

This wall decor was 3 dimensional.

My favorite was the gardens which I thoroughly enjoyed even in the rain.

Just to be perfectly clear……..

 

 

These were the stables for the palace.

A storks ‘s nest  sits a top one of  the palace’s chimney.

 

Bird of the day – on route to the palace I saw 2 storks sitting on top of a brick wall and one stork  flying.  What an incredible sight!  Even our bus driver, who couldn’t speak English, got excited and pointed it out to everyone!  (Pictures  from Google as I could not get my camera out fast enough.)

Also, on route, we saw field after  field of  blooming rape seed  which is used for making mustard.

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

 

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