Salakas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Sorrows

Although the stonework churches in Lithuania became popular even during Romanticism period, they used to be bricked out from the field stones.  Wrought stones in Lithuanian churches were used very fragmentarily, this construction material was most common in the foundations of churches or execution of single parts of buildings. Therefore, Salakas offers the visitors a sight, which is not characteristic of our country – house of prayers erected using this type materials can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It is not surprising that it stands namely here – the north-east corner of Lithuanian territory, which at all times was rich with boulders that sometimes were used in the olden constructions. The synthesis of main construction materials, used for the Church of Salakas, and quite rare in Lithuania Neo-Romanesque forms make this church a quite exclusive and unusual structure in our country landscape.

Although the silhouette of the church is similar to those of many churches in Lithuania with a single-tower and built in the Neo-Romanesque or Neo-Gothic styles, still the tower of particularly thickset forms as well as the wooden “pointed” spire may be considered a rare enough element, which one can see in some churches of Klaipėda region, based on German architecture tradition. Maybe the fact could have had some influence on this that the architect, commissioned to draw up the project of the new church, was hired from the region, known at that time for German style in construction, – the church was designed by Ignotas Morgulcas from Riga.

Neo-Romanesque here first of all manifests itself through the use of rounded arches and their grouping in twos and threes, seen in the tower. Although rose-windows are considered one of the Gothic features, still a window visible on the front facade fails to drop out from the Neo-Romanesque context: similar round windows appeared before Gothic, therefore, the architects of retrospective styles used them abundantly when designing Romanesque forms. Apart from the stones, providing the church of Salakas with monumentality, particularly massive four-stepped buttresses give some additional “weight” and support the tower on the sides. On the side facades and in the rounded apse, the buttresses are lower by one tier.

One can enter the church through the highly protruded porta l on the bottom tier of the tower, ended with a triangular pediment; the niche of the entrance is surrounded by a curved arch. Similar portals are integrated in the side facades as well; three portals are installed on all sides of the apse too. The interior decor and equipment pieces of the church are not of the same time and they are eclectic. Some implications concerning Romanesque style can be seen here: the small arcade in the side parts of the high altar, the ornaments in a fence, separating the presbytery, or execution of the confessionals.

The people of Salakas built their church between 1906 and 1911: it was consecrated in 1915, when ravages of the War were deteriorating this country. The organ of the church has been counting already more than one hundred years; it was made by the organ maker Bruno Goebel from Königsberg. After the Second World War, the church remained without its spire and part of the tower top – they were restored in 1989 only.


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