Shrouded in myths, the Pažaislis Monastery is a unique baroque masterpiece

On the peninsula of the Kaunas reservoir is located Pazhaislis Camaldul Monastery - one of the most beautiful examples of mature baroque not only in Lithuania, but in the whole of North-Eastern Europe. Built in the XNUMXth century. The ensemble is known not only for its unique architecture or the annual international Pažaislis Music Festivalbut also different myths.

A majestic shrine on the outskirts of the city Kaunas, and at that time in the deep forest, decided to build the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Christopher Sigismund Paz. The monastery, intended for a small circle of believers, cost the chancellor eight million gold pieces, and the patron's strange motives soon became overgrown with various rumors and fables.

Some said that by building the sacred complex, Pac wanted to atone for the rape of a young girl on this site. Others believed that the nobleman built a monastery in order to disperse the devils who chose Pazhaislis Hill. Despite the rumors, Pac paid all his attention to the construction of the monastery. He himself studied in Italy and traveled a lot in Italy, so the nobleman called architects and artists for frescoes from there.

Architect from Italy, marble from Poland

The Pazhaislis Monastery Ensemble designed Giovanni Battista Frediani. It was decided to create the composition on the model of the coat of arms of the order of the Camaldul monks - two doves drinking from one bowl. The pigeons were two connected gardens, and the bowl was the middle part of the land with an alley.

The church, the northern and inner buildings of the monastery with closed courtyards separated the courtyard of the church from the premises with the cells of hermit monks - eremus. To get into the courtyard of the church, one had to go through three gates.

The monastic ensemble was built of baked bricks, and marble was abundantly used in the decoration - walls, doorways, balconies were covered with it, and the floor was laid out. Pažaislis marble was provided by the monks themselves, since a marble deposit was located not far from the main Kamaldul monastery in Poland and Lithuania in Krakow.

In the Pažaislis complex, the church stands out for its size and architecture. The central part of the church was hexagonal, and on the sides there were two 32-meter towers.

A bell was cast in the northern tower, cast by a craftsman from Vilnius, J. Delamars. According to Pac's idea, there should have been two bells in the monastery: one was intended for the monks of the Pažaislis monastery, and the other, a large bell, was supposed to spread the glory of the monastery throughout the district.

The church of the monastery was also famous for its baroque altars, as well as frescoes painted by Italian artists. The most famous fresco The Coronation of Mary by Giuseppe Rossi - reflected the general, dominant theme in the monastery, the theme of the exaltation of the Virgin Mary. Frescoes with scenes from the Old and New Testaments also adorned other buildings of the monastery - today about 140 frescoes have been preserved in the monastery.

The hermit life of the monks

Not only the philanthropist of the Pažaislis monastery himself caused gossip, there was also a lot of talk about the monks who settled in a luxurious monastery behind high walls. Unlike the Franciscans or the Jesuits, the Camaldules were not public figures - they led a hermitic and ascetic life. As the locals, the monks who adhered to the vow of silence said to each other only “memento mori” (“remember death”), and slept in the coffins set in the cells, placing bricks under their heads.

Gossip caused and built in the XVIII century. eleven-meter monastery bell tower. The locals joked that the tower was so tall because it was the only way for hermits to admire the world around them. In 1812, the Pažaislis Monastery was ravaged by Napoleon's army, and then another rumor spread - supposedly the monks hid the jewels somewhere, and buried a copper bell in the garden.

In 1831, the Camaldules had to leave the monastery, since the Russian emperor Nicholas I confiscated all the property of Pazhaislis. Orthodox monks settled in their place, who ruled in Pazhaislis until 1915. Casimir - the monastery is open to the public. Everyone can get acquainted with the unique artistic values ​​of Pažaislis and try to unravel the secrets of the monastery.

See also material: On the picturesque route along the banks of the Nemunas - revived Lithuanian manors

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