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Guards of the Dawn or the Gate of the Dawn if it is possible so to translate free the name of Ausros Vartai, the name of one of the main sights of Vilnius. The gate of the Dawn is one of few kept elements of fortification constructions; some time ago surrounded the capital of Lithuania. Any visit to Vilnius does not go without passing under this surprising gate. What for? Certainly, to become lucky.

Fortune devotion is honorable, but is nothing less than the only function of the Gate of the Dawn. First of all they are the national monument, the historical evidence of the Lithuanian medieval architects’ skills. The Gate of the Dawn has been constructed in Vilnius within the city flourishing period, in 1522. Then they were situated on the busy trading highway which connected Vilnius to big cities in the south: Minsk, Vitebsk, Smolensk, and Moscow. The road through the Gate has tended to the Castle Medininkay ruins of which nowadays are situated not far from the border of Lithuania and Belarus. Therefore Ausros Vartai has been known as Medininkay Gate for a long time.

Nowadays the Gate of the Dawn is the most popular way to get on the territory of Old Town of Vilnius. The sculptures of griffins meet the visitors. Griffins represent symbolical patrons of Vilnius and the whole Lithuania, holding in their long-clawed paws the national emblem of the Great Dukedom Lithuanian. It is considered, that the best panoramic view on the Gate of the Dawn is opened from the western side, where everyone can see the windows of a chapel and an icon of the Blessed Virgin.

It is this side of the Gate of the Dawn that is decorated with handwriting Mater Misercordi that may be translated as “With merciful motherly love”. This handwriting anticipates a meeting with tremendous medieval chapel which is situated inside of the Gate, direct above an arch. Vilnius, as well as many other cities within a medieval age, placed above the front entrance the portrait of the Blessed Virgin keeping peace and calmness of the city-folk. The chapel of the Gate of the Dawn has been constructed one and a half centuries later than the Gate, in 1671. Nowadays the icon of Blessed Virgin, worshiped by the Catholics of the whole world, is kept. The icon is considered to be miracle-working. After the Pope John Paul the Second has visited Vilnius and the Chapel, the Gate of the Dawn has gained the status of a pilgrim place of a world level. Annually in the end of November the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin and the Gate of the Dawn become the center of festive procession in honor of the icon of Blessed Virgin Merciful.


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