LoginJoin us
Forgot Password
Add to Collection

Nunciature - the Vatican Representation House

Kaunas, Lithuania
1 of 21
L. Mykolaicio nuotrauka, 2018 m.

The building is the first and only building in interwar Kaunas designed for a foreign embassy. In fact, it is also one of those rare cases when a building was designed for a special purpose that it never served. Relations between Lithuania and the Vatican were volatile throughout the inter-war period of independence. The establishment of an independent Lithuanian ecclesiastical province in 1926 was followed a year later by the signing of the Concordat, an international treaty that established the legal position, duties and rights of the Catholic Church in the state and normalised relations between Kaunas and the Vatican. A nuncio was appointed for Lithuania, which meant the highest diplomatic representation of the Vatican in Kaunas. Riccardo Bartoloni was appointed as the new Nuncio. In turn, the government allocated a plot of land for the construction of a new nunciature. Instructions were given to start drawing up a design for the building.

It was Riccardo who was to become the owner of the new villa on a prestigious street in the city. However, new difficulties arose as the 1926 coup d'état deepened the rift between the Church, which had lost power and influence, the party that represented it in Parliament and the coup plotters. The active work of Nuncio Bartoloni, which sometimes went beyond his diplomatic duties, led to dissatisfaction with the government. The crisis reached its peak just as the nunciature was being completed. In the summer of 1931, the Vatican representative, who had been resident in Lithuania for three years, was ordered to leave the country. Although diplomatic relations stabilised in the following years, by 1940 the nuncio was no longer in Kaunas, and the modern building was left without a master.

The architect of the building is V. Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, who was one of the most influential architects of the interwar era. The architect designed all his buildings with sensitivity to the environment, and this two-story villa was not any different. The Nunciature is adapted to its surroundings, with the baggage of Italian culture that the architect accumulated during his studies. The villa is situated on a slope, unlike the predominantly linear buildings on the street, and set back from the "red line", the villa was reminiscent of classical Italian villas built as early as in the Renaissance period. The asymmetrical volume was characterised by a highly functional and flexible interior layout. On the ground floor, there was an office, a study, a drawing room, a dining room and a conservatory, separated from each other by sliding partitions which, when pulled back, created a large space for celebrations. This flexibility of the interior spaces was dictated by a highly innovative solution, which is typical of the most famous examples of modernist architecture. The second storey had sleeping rooms, another office, and a chapel. When the façade and the volume of the building are analysed, it might be possible to state that the architectural forms of the façade are rather restrained here. The prominent cornice and the monumental terrace with its staircase lend the building a classical solidity.

Due to internal political troubles, the nuncio did not take up residence here, and in 1932 the building was accommodated to a children`s hospital. Later, the building housed a kindergarten, the city's Culture Department from 1971 and the Artists' House from 1973.

Go to article
Go to article