True Lithuania

Neoclassical Architecture in Lithuania (1770 – 1860)

In 1770s people from Lithuania just like the people elsewhere started to emulate classical antiquity with the Neoclassical style. Like in Poland, Italy, Russia and France, in Lithuania this meant emulation of Roman rather than Hellenic styles.

Popular elements of Neoclassicism include columns akin to those built by the Romans 2000 years ago, relatively plain exteriors and interiors.

Neoclassicism is well visible in the old towns of major cities (Vilnius, Kaunas) with many townhouses ("urban palaces") once owned by the rich 18th century people built in this style. There are also a number of Neoclassical churches including the most important church in Lithuania, the Vilnius Cathedral. Arguably this is also the most important example of Neocalssicism in Lithuania.

The Neoclassical façade of Vilnius Cathedral dates to 1801.

Neoclassical churches exist in some smaller towns as well, such as Ukmergė, Mielagėnai (both in Aukštaitija) or Sudervė (Dzūkija region). But in the small town ecclascial architecture they are less prevalent than later styles.

Late Neoclassicism is known as Empire style. It incoprorates elaborate statues and pompous facades, like the front facade of the relatively small Tiškevičiai Palace in Vilnius Old Town (Trakų Street 2).

During 1830s-1850s Lithuanian towns and villages had Neoclassicism joined by the National romanticism style. These buildings are emotional yet inaccurate represenations of the previous styles, none of them are famous. By 1860 National romantic style developed into a better-researched historicism that replaced Neoclassicism as Lithuania's prime style.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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