My Lithuanian vacation continued in the capital Vilnius. The place was lovely and lively, the weather was as good as I could get. I spent the days roaming around town visiting restaurants, bars and terraces, I did all the sightseeing I could do.
I had very little time left of my stay when I decided to climb the Gediminas hill. Although the view there was spectacular, I soon noticed something extremely interesting.
The place was monumental, massive and clearly empty. I decided to take a look at the Mountain Park nearby and then head to the complex to have a closer look.
After more than an hour of beautiful scenery, sweat and sunburn I was finally standing on the concrete slowly giving way to nature. And I have to say I was stunned.
The place was of the famous, distinctive brutalist Soviet architecture, and it was immediately evident, the place had been a hugely important building, when built. The question was, what it was in the first place and what had happened to it to end up in such a shape. Already before I was on the other side of the building, I was doing my research on Google.
The place was the Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports. Opened in 1971 it had the capacity of 4400 people, and was used mainly for volleyball and basketball, until it was closed down in 2004 because it was deemed unsafe by the authorities. It has stood empty ever since.
The place indeed had a rich history. It was the site of the congress, which started the Lithuanian independence movement in the late 1980’s. It was also the site of the public funeral for the Lithuanians killed in the Vilnius TV tower by Soviet troops during the events, which led to the independence.
There had been plans to renovate the palace, but it was unfortunately located at the site of an old Jewish cemetary, which was destroyed by the Soviets when constructing another structure nearby. There was an ongoing battle between Lithuania and the Jewish community about whether it was possible to renovate the building to a modern convention centre or not.
Meanwhile the area could rot in peace.
I longed inside, but wasn’t stupid enough to try to enter. First of all there were cameras everywhere, and secondly I’m a bit doubtful about entering deserted places abroad. There’s always the risk of getting caught and fined, but in Finland I know that the guards and police will treat me well. Abroad, I’m not always so sure.
The palace was a magnificent sight, and I would really love to see it restored some day.
All in all the surroundings could have been very beautiful if kept better.
Old meets new. Up there you can see the tower, where I took the first pictures from.
People were clearly breaking in for their own explorations, but like I said, I would have had my doubts about going in even if I had found a way.
One final look at the riverside facade, as I had already found new adventures.