The communal stage is in the process of being built at the site of the former monument, Source: Vilnius Municipality / Kastytis Mačiūnas

How Vilnius fills the void left from a removed Soviet monument

How Vilnius fills the void left from a removed Soviet monument

It can take time to reset the public’s mindset about the purpose of an urban space…or it can take a project

These days, Vilnius is one of the Eastern European cities spearheading the movement of de-Sovietization. As part of its activities to erase traces of the authoritarian past and promote democracy, the local authorities have removed monuments dating back to the USSR.

One such monument was that of native writer Petras Cvirka who promoted the Communist ideology and opposed the Lithuanian partisans, who were trying to liberate the country during World War II. Following long years of debates and controversy, the capital city’s authorities finally removed the monument in November of last year.

But then, the issue of what to do with the bare space came up. First, the place was a source of controversy, then it became something of an urban desert spot. In the spirit of democratic values, what followed was a consultation with non-profits and citizens, and so the authorities decided to build a stage for community expressions and performances there.

The first event – a community festival – is happening soon

After the removal of Cvirka's monument, the square between Pylimo and Pamėnkalnis streets did not attract citizens. It was inconvenient for people with mobility disabilities, as well as parents with strollers and cyclists. During the creative brainstorming workshop held in May, various proposals were made for what could appear in this space. It could become an open summer reading room, a place for active leisure, sports, creativity, and outdoor cafes. In fact, many of these proposals will be implemented.

Now, a large stage is already being built in the square, and lighting is being installed. Mobile toilets, additional trash cans, and new bike racks have also been installed there. Near the stairs, and near the public transport stop, there is a parking lot for people with individual needs, parents with strollers, and bicycle riders. The lawn is maintained in the square.

The new stage will be available to citizens and organizations that have submitted a request and coordinated the event with the city municipality. And the first event is already scheduled. The local community festival “Coexist” is inviting residents to inaugurate the space from 18 to 21 August.



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