For hundreds of years Lithuania was known as a land of endless lavish forests, interrupted only by rivers. As such the traditional architecture in Lithuania is wooden. In most smaller towns almost every building that is constructed before the 20th century is built of wood. Wooden churches are typical in villages, there are even wooden mosques and synagogues. Some of the wooden structures are very elaborate and with intricate details.
However, the brick started to displace the wood as early as in the 14th century. From the 14th century onwards, architecture began to be shaped by European traditions. All the styles of Europe, one after the other, reached the country, sometimes belatedly. Romanesque Architecture was the first international style to reach Lithuania but few instances of it remain. Some of the most famous architectural gems date to Gothic period such as the Saint Anne’s church in Vilnius. This period was followed by the Baroque that is the best represented in the church architecture of Vilnius. During the Renaissance Period in the 16th century, cities began to be constructed according to a formal plan and structure
In the late 18th century the Neoclassical Architecture came to Lithuania. In the mid 19th century it was displaced by Historicism that duplicated various earlier styles and sometimes a combination of thereof. This period gave many large buildings in the cities, the apartments and public buildings, while many smaller towns obtained their neo-Gothic church spires that now dominate the Lithuanian landscape. Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Renaissance and eclectic Historicist styles were less common in these churches.
Architectural heritage takes part during the first half of the 20th century, are the manors in the countryside as well as in the cities and towns that used to be owned by the noble families.
The post-independence in 1990 era brought glass-covered buildings and skyscrapers to the major cities, especially Vilnius and Klaipėda, but the expansion did not reach the small towns or villages. Later era (1997 and beyond) brought the glass and steel high rises and post-modern styles.
Nowadays, Lithuania continues to be closely connected with its countryside, and this is reflected in its architecture, as well. Elements of folk creativity have become particularly noticeable recently, with the resumption of church construction.
Modern Lithuanian architecture has been substantially influenced by the Frenchman Le Corbusier and also by Finnish architecture.
Around the outskirts of the Old City there are several brand new 30 storey glass towers of the kind you will see in Hong Kong, Bahrain, Shanghai, etc.