Gates of Dawn

Investigate one of Old Town’s most significant historical and religious sites to see a medieval fortification adorned with a chapel and a venerated shrine.

The Gates of Dawn is an ancient city gate in Vilnius that houses a magnificent chapel and a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Built between 1503 and 1522, the gates once defended the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Visit to see its heritage architecture, explore the chapel and discover the magnificent religious artifacts intended to bless and protect the city.

Walk underneath the wide arch of the Gates of Dawn to imagine how this city fortification defended Vilnius’ Old Town in medieval times. The gates once led to the village of Medininkai and the southern areas of the city. Gaze up at the gates’ magnificent Palladian-style façade and four columns, topped by a gold-emblazoned pediment. Look for the arched windows of the chapel, housing the sacred shrine to Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn.

Find the small door within the gates leading up a stairway to the chapel on the upper floor. The beautifully ornamented room has a gilded shrine at its centre. Votive offerings and woodcarvings surround the shrine. Spend a moment admiring the sacred painting, including a crown adorned with gilded silver and colored-glass inlays.

The icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy is a revered painting dating back to the early 1600s. The Northern Renaissance-style painting was originally painted in tempera on oak. The icon is famed for miraculous powers. One story dates back to 1702, when the Swedish army invaded Vilnius during the Great Northern War. It is believed that a portion of the heavy structure of the gates fell on Swedish soldiers resting at their base, killing them and allowing the Lithuanian Army to counterattack.

The Gates of Dawn is a tall white structure located across a pedestrianized street south of Vilnius’ Old Town. The gates are free to visit at any time of day. You can also explore the chapel during the day however, it may be crowded on Sundays and while services and Masses are being held. Walk to the Gates of Dawn in 10 minutes from Vilnius’ main train station.

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