Sitting in an isolated Lithuanian field, the Niurkoniai Chapel is a lovely historic relic that looks more haunting, holy, and sacred in abandonement than it ever did during its operating life.
The little church was first built in 1828 as an extension of a farmhouse. The owner of the land, Joseph Vavžeckis, who had received the estate as part of his wife’s dowry, built the tiny church in memory of his brother, General Thomas Vavžeckio, a leader during the Kościuszko Uprising against Russian power. The chapel took St. Thomas as its patron saint and a mural of the figure was painted inside the little building. A separate bell tower was also built in the churchyard.
The church itself consists of simple central space with wooden pillars supporting loft space. A concave altar is built into the back wall, but otherwise, the interior was an austere affair. The basement of the chapel acted as a family burial site for a time, but was eventually disturbed and bricked up. When the chapel was constructed there was more elaborate decoration, but this has been lost to time.
Today the chapel still stands in its lonely churchyard, protected as a historic landmark, but not known by very many. The walls are peeling and the whole site appears both beautiful and haunted. But now that it stands alone as a crumbling relic of the past, it looks all the more stunning.
Know Before You Go
If you go on E67 turn to Pušalotas (road 2904) in front of Pumpėnai village. Follow the road and before the bridge over the river turn left to Lavėnai. Follow the road through the village and then after few kilometers, you will see the chapel on your right.