Pazaislis Monastery, Lithuania
Nestled neatly atop ‘Peace Mountain’ on a peninsular of the Kaunas Reservoir in Lithuania sits the magnificent baroque Pazaislis Monastery.
I recently had cause to be driving through the Baltic states and came across this truly unique place 10kms away from Kaunas City.
The history of the place is almost unbelievable: founded in the 17th Century for an order of hermits, this place has also housed Napoleon’s Army, been used as an archive, and as a psychiatric hospital, and latterly has been home to an art gallery. Of course, the building has also spent time in the hands of the Russian Empire but was handed back to the nuns of the convent when Lithuania gained its independence. It is still functioning today and the nuns are a common site around the complex.
The monastery’s estate is now shared with the Monte Pacis Hotel, which offers some of the finest cuisine in Lithuania as well as classical baroque style rooms and apartments. Natural beauty surrounds the striking baroque architecture and the peninsular offers great opportunities to engage with nature such as boating on the reservoir, free cycle hire from Monte Pacis, and a network of different running routes through the woods.
There is also an annual music festival which has been held at Pazaislis Monastery since 1996, on a series of dates over the summer. A significant cultural event in Lithuania, the festival aims to promote cultural collaboration and make classical music more accessible. I was lucky enough to hear a performance by some of Lithuania’s most acclaimed classical artists — an unforeseen but very welcome addition to my time in Lithuania.