The Image of the ‘Sanctuary of Art’ in Vilnius Buildings in the early Twentieth Century

Nijolė Lukšionytė-Tolvaišienė (PDF)

In the nineteenth century, architecture became the secular equivalent of religion, and secular buildings began to serve a new cult, art. Museums, libraries and cultural institutions were designed in contemporary styles. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Vilnius experienced a cultural renaissance, neoromanticism, when it was again looking back to national history. The 1902 pavilion in the Bernardine Garden can be seen as a representative of the image of the ‘Sanctuary of Art’ in Vilnius. This wooden building has an unusually streamlined shape. The building has a basilica-like volume with two Baroque towers in front. In 1903, its hall hosted an exhibition of the Cracow Society of Art ‘Sztuka’. The wooden summer theatre (1907), built in the Vilnius Botanical Garden, had a similar layout in the main façade. The Baroque churches of Vilnius probably inspired the double-tower facades of the summer theatre and pavilion. This assumption is supported by the theatre palace design by the city architect Wacław Michniewicz, in which the representative façade is framed by Baroque towers, obviously taken from the sacral architecture. Public buildings are often characterised by a volume with one main tower. However, unlike sacral architecture, the tower is built on the corner of the building. The Merchants Club building is an example. A visually similar solution was chosen for the Vilnius power station (1902).

Keywords: Neoromanticism, historicism, double-tower façades, the pavilion of the Bernardine Garden, Baroque towers