Find out more

In 1468, a wooden church was built next to the castle for Bernardine monks who settled in the city. Constructions of a brick Church of St. George began in 1471. The exact date of the completion of these constructions is unknown, however the church was already used in 1503. The church was heavily damaged by fire in 1603, as well as by the Moscow army during the war with Moscow in 1656 and 1659.

In 1812, the French army led by Napoleon converted the church into a flour warehouse. Last major repairs were carried out here in 1936. The church was used as a warehouse once again after World War II. P. Mažylis Medical School was established here during the Soviet period.

In 2005, the church which was already in very poor condition was given back to the monks. The brick monastery building built in the 16th century next to the church preserved many of its Gothic elements. The Confluence Park (Santakos Park) was established nearby.

Reconstruction works of both the church and the monastery began in July of 2009.

This temple of the late Gothic period is one of the five monuments built in 1495–1510 which are classified as original Lithuanian national architectural heritage. The monumental building is long (hall length – 36.5 m, presbytery – 20.8 m), with vertical proportions and rhythmic composition. Its facades are divided by lancet arch windows as well as slender and graceful multi-tier abutments. Presbytery abutments are particularly unique – as if the columns are not touching the wall at all and, instead of supporting the wall, they seemingly support arches above the window and roof cornices.

The church has a hall style; all three naves are covered with a gable roof. Only the clearly lower presbytery is separated and has a small picturesque Baroque tower above it. The building itself is made of dark red bricks using a Gothic binding method; burnt black bricks were moderately used for decoration – often for forming diamond and cross shaped patterns. The walls are very thick: nave section – 1.3 m, presbytery – 1 m. Three naves are divided into five traverses covered with semi-circular cross vaults. The church suffered from fires and wars more than once, but was rebuilt.

Despite the frequent reconstructions, St. George church and monastery buildings retained their features of Gothic architecture. The church has a non-plastered brickwork exterior, rectangular plan, a hall style and three naves (separated by four pairs of columns). Its presbytery is separated from the central nave by a semi-circular arch and ends with a three-sided apse. The facade is decorated with a narrow, concave brick strip separating the low base, as well as a narrow strip under the windows. No Gothic elements remain in the pediment and cornice separating it from the lower part of the facade. Presbytery abutments are rather interesting and resemble octagonal columns holding the original segment arcade and roof.

The colour of the bricks is dark red, however there are also burnt black bricks in some sections. The Gothic interior of the church is no longer present, but there are remaining fragments of Baroque church equipment: part of the wooden Baroque altars, organ tribune and benches with images of Franciscan martyrs. A beautiful painting of St. Francis of Assisi which was placed on one of the church altars, as well as the sculptures of kings of Israel created for the high altar in 1703 are currently stored in Kaunas priest seminary.

A monastery is situated on the southern side of the church. Both the wings of the monastery and the church form a rectangular enclosed courtyard. The first floor of the wings from the side of the courtyard is surrounded by a corridor which formed a seamless bypass along with the former gallery which was added to the church. This is a typical scheme of a Gothic monastery plan. The external walls of the monastery were not plastered; their surface was decorated with diamond-shaped black brick ornaments. There were portals on the sides of the main southern facade, and two simpler entrances to the cellar in the middle. The interiors were also magnificent, with a decorative internal portal, tapering cross vaults in the corridor of the first floor and wall paintings.