Lithuanian Government transfers premises of the former Augustinian monastery to EHU

On October 31 the Government of Lithuania took an official decision to provide new premises for the European Humanities University (EHU) in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town of Vilnius. The first public event to take place in the new University Campus is scheduled for November 17 — EHU 25th anniversary Gala ceremony.

Late 18th century-built and fully renovated former Augustinian monastery occupies over 2700 sq. meters in the intersection of Savičiaus and Bokšto streets, roughly 200 meters away from the Vilnius Town Hall. Original interior fragments, as the 19th-century frescoes and pavement were preserved during the 5-years long restoration works. Thanks to the generosity of the Lithuanian Government, EHU will be able to eventually place all the academic and administrative divisions under one umbrella of the new premises. The new University Campus will also maintain a stronger footprint of EHU in the multicultural and diverse landscape of Vilnius and strengthen the identity of EHU as a community and as a University, driven by the virtue of the heritage of the European intellectual tradition.

“The decision of the Lithuanian Government makes everyone at EHU very happy. The new beautiful premises constitute perfect surroundings for studies, research, and other activities of the University for as long, as we reside in Vilnius. It symbolizes an important step in the development of the University in close cooperation with our host country”, says EHU Acting Rector Jørgen Jørgensen.

University will relocate into the new premises in three stages. In November-December 2017 Tauro street-based administrative office of EHU will re-locate into the former Monastery. Simultaneously the preparations for relocating the Mediahub from its current premises of the Lithuanian Public TV and Radio will proceed. Finally, students and faculty of EHU will be able to begin the AY 2017/18 spring semester in the new University Campus.

“It is very symbolic that in the year of the 25th anniversary, EHU, finally, will be able to obtain a new home in our host city of Vilnius. The possibility for all members of the University community to work under one umbrella of the magnificent former Augustinian monastery will bring an added value to the quality of studies and research at EHU. We are grateful to Lithuania for the continuous trust and support demonstrated throughout all these years of working in Vilnius”, adds Chair of the EHU Governing Board Per Carlsen.

EHU’s relocation into the new premises became possible due to outstanding generosity and support of the Government of Lithuania, expressed since the very first days of the re-establishment of EHU in Vilnius. Initially raised by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, the political and administrative will to provide EHU with the new premises was maintained by successive Government, led by Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, and finally fulfilled by the Government, led by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

The first public event, taking place in the new premises of EHU is the 25th anniversary Gala ceremony, occurring on November 17. Among distinguished guests of the Ceremony – Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania Prof. Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag Urban Ahlin, and also former President of the European Parliament Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, who will be awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa degree by EHU.

Historical reference

During past centuries the Augustinian monastery also hosted a seminary and a grammar school. In 1808 the premises became a part of the Spiritual Seminary of the Vilnius University. After Russian authorities ceased operations of the Vilnius University in 1832, the premises served as the Vilnius Spiritual Academy until 1842. In 1852-1854 the premises were handed over into the possession of the Order of the Carmelites, but were eventually closed. Tomasz Tyszecki, a respected architect of the romanticism era, mastered a project for the adaptation of the Monastery for the purposes of the Orthodox theological school which was implemented in 1859. After the end of the WWI, the premises were again handed over to the Catholic Church and in a result, to the Vilnius University (then-named Stefan Batory University) and were re-equipped into dormitories. Under the Soviet occupation the Augustinian monastery was abandoned and partly turned into communal apartments.

Photos: Kilimas Arts