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Pažaislis monastery and church (Lithuanian: Pažaislio vienuolynas ir bažnyčia) form the largest monastery complex in Lithuania, and the most magnificent example of Italian Baroque architecture in the country. It is situated in the Petrašiūnai elderate of Kaunas, Lithuania, on a peninsula in the Kaunas Reservoir near the Kaunas Yacht Club.
Founded in 1662 by the Grand Duchy of Lithania Great Chancellor Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac for the Order of the Camaldolese Hermits, the main construction continued until 1674 and resumed in 1712. The church was designed by Pietro Puttini, Carlo and Pietro Puttini, and Giovanni Battista Frediani. In 1755 the addition of the towers and the dome was funded by the king's chamberlain Michał Jan Pac.
In 1832 the church was closed by the Russian authorities and later converted into an Orthodox church. The author of the Imperial Russian national anthem God Save the Tsar, Alexei Lvov, was interred there in 1870. After 1920 the ruined church returned to Roman Catholics and was restored by sisters of the Lithuanian convent of St. Casimir. After World War II, the Soviet authorities converted the church and monastery into an archive, a psychiatric hospital and finally an art gallery (in 1966). In 1990s the complex was returned to the nuns of the convent and reconstruction work began.
Today the monastery is home to the annual international Pažaislis Music Festival. It was started in 1996 and now lasts for three summer months and offers about 30 different concerts. The festival was visited by Lord Yehudi Menuhin twice. It features classical music of diverse genres and styles, ranging from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to ABBA classics. To some concerts admission is free, to most it is very affordable (6-10 litas or 2-3 United States dollars). Other concerts have taken place in many different venues across Lithuania, such as the Kaunas Castle, Klaipėda University, and even the Pociūnai Airport.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pažaislis Monastery.|
- Laima Sinkunaite, The Pazaislis Monastery — A Baroque Pearl in Bridges journal, March 1999.
- Pažaislis Music Festival Official website.