Three architectural giants of faith 2

Marius Vyšniauskas, 2014-04-17

In brief: There are many buildings in the world which by their structure, history and interior design draw attention of the public. Some of them become famous when built, others before the construction process has ended. For instance, the Buddhist Hinduism White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) was started by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat (b. 1955) in 1996 and it should be finished only after 60 – 90 years; this temple attracts tourists by its unusual exterior already now.

The most famous example of eternal construction is the Expiatory Church of the Holy Family  (El Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia) in Barcelona, Spain. The construction of the cathedral was started by the architect Antoni Gaudí in 1883, after his death the work was continued by Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, later the project was continued by other architects. It is planned to finish the building by 2026 – 2028.

Speaking about Lithuania, two giant buildings which became the symbolical relics of our culture may be distinguished – St. Jesus Heart Church in Vilnius and the Christ’s Resurrection Church in Kaunas.

St. Jesus Heart Church in Vilnius, architect Antanas Vivulskis (Antoni Wiwulski; 1877 - 1919), has not survived to the present day. The church was constructed in 1913-1916 in Naujininkai quarter of Vilnius. The impressive construction of the church was captured in several photographs. The original innovative work of architecture continued the traditions of Lithuanian Baroque by the composition of masses and space. Much of attention was allocated to the surroundings of the church. Still, the fate of the church was tragic. The remains of A. Vivulskis were moved from the church and reburied in Rasos Cemetery in 1962, and the Builders’ Culture Palace was constructed on the foundations of the church (works were completed in 1965.). Some of the church constructions have been left in the inside walls.

The Christ’s Resurrection Church is located in Kaunas, it is the symbolic image of the city. After Lithuania regained its independence, Prof. priest Pranas Būčys (1872 – 1951) offered an idea to build a temple – a monument for independence in 1922. The project of the Christ’s Resurrection Church was prepared in 1932, and the spirit of the church, monument and contemporary times was combined in it. The church was constructed from ferroconcrete frames covered by bricks.

Conservative and modern features prevail in the architecture. The big tower rises to the height of 63 m. Flat roof was also a novelty. The church interior was not furnished until the soviet occupation, work was stopped by the lack of funds. In 1940 the church was confiscated and turned into a paper warehouse, from 1952 a radio factory was located here. The church was returned to the congregation in 1988 and reconstructed in 1989 – 2006.

As we see, there is a number of symbols of faith of people in Lithuania and the world constructed in the 20th century by which people wanted to appear closer to God.

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