The most important Catholic building in Lithuania, Vilnius Cathedral as it’s more commonly known was first built in 1251 by newly converted Grand Duke Mindaugas on the site of a pagan temple. Returned to pagan use after Mindaugas’ death in 1263, it was given back to the Catholic Church on the country’s official conversion to Christianity in 1387. The building that now stands in its place has little to do with the original structure. The current building dates to around 1419, with countless modifications and additions made after that. The Neo-Classical form is largely down to Lithuania’s first true architect, Laurynas Stuoka Gucevičius (Pol. Wawrzyniec Gucewicz, 1753-98), who was also responsible for a number of other notable buildings in the city including the Town Hall. The rather plain nave betrays eleven chapels, among them the must-see High Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir (1458-84), named after Lithuania’s patron saint. Built in 1636 to house his remains, the chapel is one of the country’s national treasures. On the roof of the cathedral, the three statues of Sts. Stanislaus, Helena and Casimir, supposedly representing Poland, Russia and Lithuania, are 1997 copies of the 18th-century originals which were destroyed by the Soviets in 1950. Spending several years as an art gallery and even a car repair workshop, the cathedral was returned to the Catholic Church on October 22, 1988 during the eventful Sąjūdis Congress and re-consecrated on February 5, 1989. The 57-metre free-standing bell-tower, now a popular meeting place, was originally part of one of the gates in the city’s defensive wall and has been added to several times over the centuries, giving it its peculiar shape. It received six new bells in 2002, baptised by the cardinal in a special ceremony.