It is a privilege to create custom door pulls for religious architecture. Over the years, we have been asked to design bespoke door hardware for churches worldwide. The Baltica design team works with architects and interior designers who specialize in designing places of worship.
The design of sacred architecture is both fascinating and challenging. Therefore when designing custom door hardware for sacred spaces we feel a special responsibility not only to those who will seek peace within these spaces today, but also for future generations.
Studying the history of architecture one learns of the changes in architecture, which reflect various cultural traditions, regions, styles and periods of history. Sacred architecture dates back to Neolithic architecture, ancient Egyptian architecture and Sumerian architecture. Ancient temples were considered to be dwelling places of the gods and were used as sites of various kinds of sacrifice. The Parthenon in Athens was dedicated to the goddess Athena. The oldest layer of Buddhist and Jain texts mention monks living in caves. These Viharas later developed into Buddhist monasteries. Hindu temple architecture includes elements of astronomy and sacred geometry. Byzantine architecture influenced Islamic architecture with its round arches, vaults and domes. The architecture of Christian churches of the Middle Ages featured the Latin cross plan. Their primary model was the Roman Basilica.
During our international travels, we have had the opportunity to visit inspiring historic religious buildings and landmarks. Upon our return to Vilnius, we always rediscover the amazing architecture of the historic Old Town. Living and working in the Old Town offers us the opportunity to explore these magnificent buildings and learn about their history.
Many of the churches in Vilnius were built on pagan worship sites. The Vilnius cathedral was built on a holy pagan site – the shrine of Perkunas, the god of thunder. To understand this connection a brief overview of ancient and medieval Lithuanian faith is needed. The research of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas showed that agrarian settlers of 3500-2500 BC were examples of earth worshiping Old Europeans. Later Indo-Europeans entered the area and elements of their religious past evolved into paganism.
In the 9th century Baltic religions came under pressure from outside Christian forces. In 1009 CE Christian missionaries attempted to convert pagans. Beginning in 1199 the Roman Catholic Church declared crusades against Baltic pagans. Grand Duke Mindaugas was Christianized in 1251 with the intent of ending the Crusader attacks. Yet he continued to worship pagan deities. In 1261 Mindaugas renounced his Christian faith since his conversion had failed to stop the Crusaders. Even in the face of Crusaders, the influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania expanded and became the center of a vast ‘pagan Empire’. Lithuanians survived late into history practicing ancient European paganism, preserving this tradition as the state religion until the late 14th and early 15th centuries when Christianity was finally accepted by Grand Duchy. Lithuania was the last country in Europe to adopt Christianity.
Gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicism styles of architecture can be found in the 28 churches and shrines of the Vilnius Old Town. Only a few of these churches survived the Soviet occupation without being closed. The closure of churches during the years of Soviet occupation prompted massive desecrations, ransacking and reuse of these religious buildings as warehouses and museums. Since the independence of Lithuania in 1991, many of the churches have been reopened. Restoration of these historic churches is very costly and requires an extensive knowledge of historical restoration. The Vilnius Old Town is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was an honor for us to create custom door pulls for the Saint Nicholas Church (Lithuanian: Šv. Mikalojaus bažnyčia) It is the oldest standing church in Lithuania.
This Brick Gothic church was built for a community of German Hansaetic merchants in 1320. It is so small because Lithuanians were still pagan at that time. The vaulted ceilings show human-faced Sun and Moon. It was first mentioned in 1387. Its facade is flanked by two stocky buttresses with cut-off tops. The church belfry was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. During 1901-1939 the Church of St. Nicholas was the only church in Vilnius where services were held in Lithuanian. Today the classic red brick Gothic exterior looks almost as it did when it was finished. If you look closely at the facade, you‘ll see fingerprints in the bricks which were made while building the church. A very old fingerprint indeed!
Given the beauty and history of this landmark church, it was very disappointing to see mismatched ordinary door pulls on its front door. Therefore we decided that Baltica should prepare custom door pulls for the Church of St. Nicholas. We researched which custom door pull design would be most appropriate for the architectural style of this historic building. The existing holes, which had been previously bored into the doors, were also taken into consideration for the custom door pulls.
We consulted with an architect who is an expert in historical preservation. A special configuration of our Telluride door pull and backplate was chosen. The custom door pulls were sand cast of the finest brass, handcrafted and finished with an antique brass patina.
We are honored that Baltica custom door pulls, made by our master artisans, are now an integral part of this historical sacred building. These custom door pulls will welcome visitors to St. Nicholas Church for many years to come.