In the old part Vitebsk, at the intersection of today's Lenin and Suvorov streets, there was previously a massive Church of St. Anthony of Padua. At a time when the temple had not yet been destroyed, this section of the city was called Town Hall Square. The picture taken from the town hall tower clearly shows how the square looked in the second half of the 19th century. On right - Resurrection Church, in the distance - the former Jesuit monastery and the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, and on the left just Anthony's Church.

Vitebsk old town shot
source: VOCM, 1873

In the photo below, the place where the temple was located is circled, in the 90s a fountain was built here “Confluence of three rivers"

Where was the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Vitebsk

The church was built at bernardine monastery, which appeared in Vitebsk back in 1676. The original version of the temple, like the monastery buildings, was built of wood. They did not stand for long and were destroyed by fire in 1733. It is from this moment that the history of the stone church begins, which began to be built on the site of its predecessor in 1737.

Lost Heritage of Vitebsk - Bernardine Church
Zdymak with Kalektsy Viktar Barysenok. Zroblen yes 1939

The work was hard and took about 30 years. The result of this work was a two-tower Baroque church with an atypically wide facade.

Lost Heritage: Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Vitebsk
Zdymak with Kalektsy Viktar Barysenok. Prykladna 1941

In its architecture and form, it is close to another Bernardine church in Belarus - Budslovsky.

Lost sights of Vitebsk

Bernardine monastery in Vitebsk abolished in 1832, they did not close the Catholic church, but made it an ordinary parish. In this format, he worked until 1920.

Then the church of St. Anthony of Padua was taken away from the believers, and a little later it was placed within its walls. museum of atheism. For some time, even the relics of Euphrosyne of Polotsk, seized from the Spaso-Evfrosinevsky monastery of Polotsk, were exhibited in it.

Old pictures of Vitebsk

What did the Bernardine church look like inside?

By the end of the war, the church and monastery buildings were partially destroyed and required major repairs, there were active disputes about what should be done with these buildings.

Where was the Bernardine Church in Vitebsk?
Krynitsa: V. Baberska. From historiy kassel of Bernadzins near Vitsebsk. Prykladna 1944

A compromise solution could not be found and 4 May 1961 years the ruins of the church were finally dismantled.

Town Hall Square in Vitebsk - old photo
Photograph from the late 50s, from the collection of Konstantin Durikhin

There are some rather curious facts related to this temple. In 1917, the Church of St. Anthony of Padua was depicted in his painting “The Market Square of Vitebsk” by the legendary artist Mark Shagal. And 100 years later, in 2017, the Ministry of Culture of Belarus approved a draft solution for the restoration of this unique landmark. Who knows, maybe someday this majestic church will return to its rightful place in Vitebsk.

What else to see in the city? I recommend walking to Church of the Annunciation, which was restored on the foundation of the temple of the 12th century. It will be interesting to see and Barbarian church with features of neo-gothic and neo-romanesque style of architecture.


Enter your comment
Your name