No trip to Vilnius would be complete without a visit to the Gate of Dawn, one of Lithuania's most celebrated shrines and a world-renowned cultural attraction. The Lady Gate of Dawn sanctuary with its portrait of Blessed Virgin Mary welcomes pilgrims and sightseers from around the globe, receiving more than half a million visitors every year.
Famous painting of Virgin Mary
One of the reasons the Gate of Dawn remain so popular is the fabulous portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary that lies within its walls. The painting, which is often called the Vilnius Madonna, hangs in the chapel built into Gate of Dawn and has been copied by many other churches.
The story began 500 years ago
The story of the Gate of Dawn begins back in the early 16th century, when five gates were built into the heavy city wall surrounding Vilnius. In 1671, local monks built a wooden chapel over the gate to help taking care of the beautiful, renaissance style painting. The other four gates have since been destroyed by fire, but the Gate of Dawn remain. Initially, the iconic spot was named the Medininkai Gate but as the painting of the Virgin Mary and her sunrise became increasingly famous, the name morphed into the one used today.
How to visit
Easily found at the south western end of Vilnius' Old Town, the Gate of Dawn is an attraction that is well worth visiting. When you plan your trip to this iconic spot, it's worth bearing in mind that religious celebrations take place between November 10 and November 16, culminating in Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. When booking accommodation or events in Vilnius, you may want to take these special dates into consideration.