A frenzied whirligig of Baroque ornamentation, the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit was constructed at the beginning of the 15th century and is one of the most ornate of all Vilnius’s churches. Over the centuries and depending on who was ruling Lithuania at the time, it has been a Catholic church, a Dominican monastery, a parish church, a prison, and finally, today it is the Orthodox parish church of the Polish diaspora in Lithuania.
Owing its present Baroque and rococo appearance to a facelift by architect Jonas Kristupas Glaubicas after a fire in 1749, the interior is a heady clash of colors, gilt, carved wooden pews, ornate lecterns, and bright sprays of flowers. The crypt contains the skeletons of nearly 2,000 bodies, thought to be a mixture of plague victims and fallen soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. However, most people visit to gaze in awe at the over-lavish internal decoration of the church, with its swags of marble, frescoes coating the walls, coats of arms, stucco, reliquaries and precious icons, its 16 altars and the monumental Casparini organ dating from 1776.
The Church of the Holy Spirit is open daily from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Polish mass takes place at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Mass takes place six times on Sunday. Admission is free.