The building complex of the former Bernardine Convent situated in the Old Town of Vilnius offers seven authentic halls of exceptional character decorated with the works of prominent artists from various epochs. The Church Heritage Museum established in the Church of St. Archangel Michael and displaying the Treasury of Vilnius Cathedral, which was hidden away in the wall of the Cathedral for nearly half a century, forms an integral part of the centre.
Various restaurants, cafés, hotels and bars offering high level of service are in the vicinity if the centre. Picturesque views of the ensemble of St. Anne and St. Bernardine Churches open up from its windows; Bernardine Garden, a favourite spot of the locals, and the bohemian district of Užupis with its cosy shops and cafés are right next to the centre.
The building of the former convent is a rare example of Vilnius Renaissance architecture, the structure and décor of which contain elements of both the passing Gothic and arriving Mannerism. The Refectory, the largest and most ornate convent hall, originally served as the dining room of the nuns; It was connected with the adjacent Fireplace Hall by a big arch so that food could be served efficiently. Unfortunately, the luxurious Renaissance decorations of the Refectory have not survived. In 1886 a doss-house, workhouse and a canteen of the Society of Mercy were opened in the already closed-down convent. Yet the surviving intricate 18th century mouldings reveal the gratitude of the nuns to the patron of the covenant. – the dome of the Refectory was decorated with the coat of arms of Lew Sapieha bearing his initials a hundred years after his death.
The convent barnyard, vegetable and fruit gardens of the covenant could be accessed from the Fireplace Hall. Even today the barnyard contains a former bakery with three authentic furnaces. Other premises of the former convent were named the Salon and the Abbot’s Cell, according to their origin. The convent also had its own weaving and sewing facilities, stables, a smithy, a brewery and a large garden. The majority of the buildings were destroyed in the 19th century when the current Maironio Street was being laid to connect the Orthodox Church of the Theotokos with the barracks of the Russian Empire, housed in the closed-down Bernardine Monastery.