18th Century Architecture in Lithuania | True Lithuania
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 Neoclassicism 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 ecclesial architecture, they are less prevalent than later styles. Even fewer Neoclassical manors survive. However, Neo-Classical details (e.g. columns) are common in a much larger number of Lithuanian buildings, as they stayed popular throughout the historicism era as well.

A Neo-Classical Paežeriai Manor in Sudovia. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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

Statues of Atlases at the front facade of the Empire style Tiškevičiai palace in Vilnius.

During 1830s-1850s Lithuanian towns and villages had Neoclassicism joined by the National romanticism style. These buildings are emotional yet inaccurate representations 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.

National Romantic Saint Peter and Paul church of Ukmergė, with Neo-Classical details joined by folk-inspired local details, such as grey stone masonry. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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