One of Lithuania's most famous cultural monuments is in the Antakalnis district in Vilnius. The nobleman Michal Kazimieriz Pac began construction of the present-day baroque sanctuary in place of a former decaying wooden one in 1668. Interior decoration began in 1871 and lasted until 1704. Italian masters Pietro Perti and Giovanni Maria Galli were responsible for creating the stucco mouldings and frescoes. The intricate decor expresses the might, endurance, and majesty of the Church.
The apostle Peter holds an important place, as do images of St. Augustine in his role as head of the Church. There are representations of personalities from various nations and social strata, mythical and allegorical figures, emblems, insignia, seals and symbols. The evangelical virtues of patience, humility, purity, and compassion are depicted in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgins, to the left past the entrance.
Familiar statues include a skeleton with scythe trampling the symbols of earthly power (in the narthex), Christ Resurrected (in the presbytery), and the figure of Mary Magdalene by the Chapel of St. Ursula (second on the right). A 18th century statue of Jesus wearing a wig and a cloak of red cloth was brought from the Trinitarian Church in 1864, and is one of the sanctuary's most revered attributes.
Antakalnis and Saules cemeteries
L. Sapiegos Street, a small road branching off Antakalnio Street, leads to the old Saules and Antakalnio cemeteries. Established in 1809, Antakalnio Cemetery was originally intended only for soldiers. It has the graves of German, Polish and Russian soldiers killed in the First World War, and a 1984 monument to Soviet soldiers killed in the Second World War.
Buried her as well are the defenders of the Vilnius television tower, killed by Soviet occupational forces on January 13th, 1991, and the Medininkai border guards killed by Soviet shock troops on July 31th of the same year. Their deaths are commemorated by a bronze sculpture of the Pietà (1995, sculptor Stanislovas Kuzma). A separate area in the cemetery is dedicated to the graves of Soviet leaders and cultural figures. The remains of 3,000 of Napoleon's soldiers, discovered during construction excavations in Tuskulenai, were re-interred here in 2003.
Vileisis Manor House
Across the street from the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a building complex which belongs to the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. Once the home of businessman and philanthropist Petras Vileisis, they are interesting not only as an example of historicist architecture with elements of Art Nouveau (1906, architect August Klein), but also as a monument of Lithuanian cultural history. In 1907, the wing closest to the street held the first Lithuanian art exhibition, a precursor to the development of Lithuanian national art.