Gelvonai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Building Complex

The construction of the current Gelvonai Church was initiated by the Counts Plaiteriai, who owned the local manor at that time. At their expense as well as of the parishioners’, a new brick sanctum emerged between 1895 and 1897 according to the project of the architect Aleksej Polozov, the sanctum was consecrated by the bishop in 1907. Neo-Baroque two-section main façade somewhat reminds of Italian sanctums of the early Baroque period. And yet, there is also a sense of strictness taken over from the Classicism. The front façade somewhat deceives the onlooker – it presupposes the central nave of the basilica area hiding behind the upper section, but behind it we see a hall volume, and only one nave is found inside. Although a rather low volume would be typical of rectangular, single-nave churches of the Classicism and neo-Classicism periods, yet the church is cut by a transept, and there is a triangular apse at the back of it. Talking about materiality, we can see the tendency to use the synthesis of brick and stone masonry taken over from the Romanticism period. If the main elements are made of bricks, then the planes are filled with stone masonry. The interesting fact is that the same fills the pediments of the façades of the transept. The main gates leading to the sanctum are rather modest architecturally; however, they extend the church by the use of materials. Brick and stone masonry is also combined here. The design of the interior area is dominated by neo-Baroque: it is especially evident when looking at the three altars of the sanctum. Colour solution to the interior area as well as a matched painted décor which has, actually, emerged already in the middle of the 20th c., are also typical.

A chapel of neo-Classicist forms built earlier in 1842 is standing near the sanctum, and was constructed on the initiative of Steponas Pliateris. It‘s true, architectural forms here are quite simplified: the main accent is the portico, four columns support a large triangle pediment. A sacristy extension of already neo-Gothic forms with vividly expressed window and door niches has been later attached to this building. Another motif quite often used in Gothic period – small round niches – has been used here as well. It’s true, a large cornice, angular pilasters and a pediment have little in common with the neo-Gothic period, and they make the extension eclectic. The forms of the mausoleum chapel of Pliateriai-Žabai situated across the sanctum are quite similar to the extension of the first chapel. The latter has probably appeared at the same time as the funeral chapel, in 1850s. It’s true, there is much more experimentation with architectural forms, and here we can see neo-Gothic, neo-Baroque as well as neo-Classicism.


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