Sovietic-era buildings and other relicts, Vilnius
Grutas Park (Gruto Parkas) is a large outdoor park which exhibits all sorts of Soviet relicts, such as sculptures, monuments or vehicles. It was opened in 2001 by a private entrepreneur.
The park is also home to a museum with paintings, photos and other Soviet propaganda documents. The more than 80 exhibits are positioned along an approximately 2 km long way though a 20 ha large forestry area.
Opening times are daily from 09:00 h until 22:00 h in summer and until 17:00 h in winter time. Tickets cost 20 Litas (2011).
Grutas Park is situated in Grutas, near Druskininkai about 120 km southwest of Vilnius. All buses from Vilnius to Druskininkai pass through Grutas from where it is a 20 Minutes walk to the park. The trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. We were taken by VT member Raimix to the park.
It took me much time to find any original Soviet car in Vilnius in 2004 but finally I found a few old Lada/Zsiguli and that one car on my picture parked in one backyard: original, white Soviet Moskvich-412 produced up till 1997! I am enough old to remember these cars mainly from my trips with my parents through former Soviet Union (Ukraine now) in 70' and 80'. Look at its old- fashionable roof rack - really, brilliant example of the best quality of powerful state of ever lasting happines which ruled over half of our globe.
Hurry up - you will be able to see that cars exclusively in a museum soon, very soon! Or maybe go to Russia, do they still drive Moskvich cars in Russia?
The sculpture First Swallows (Pirmosios kregzdës) was erected in 1964 after designs of the Lithuanian sculptour Juozas Mikënas.
It is one of the few sculptures from Soviet times which still exists in Vilnius. This is probably due to the fact that it doesn't represent anything of the Communist propaganda.
The Sculpture First Swallows is located on the right bank of the Neris river, just inbetween the two bridges Baltasis tiltas and Gelezinio Vilko tiltas.
What always fascinated me on my trips to the Ex-Soviet bloc countries is the Soviet style architecture of the early post war period.
Unfortunately, nowadays there isn't much left of the Soviet era in Vilnius.
An impressive example from this time is the grey Palace of Concerts and Sports (Koncertu ir sporto rumai). It was built in 1971 and is known for its vessel like exterior.
With a capacity of about 4.400 it was mainly used for sports and music events. After Lithuania's independence it became a sort of shopping mall. In July 2006 the Palace of Concerts and Sports was added to a list of "Cultural Values".
The Palace of Concerts and Sports is situated on the right bank of the Neris River in the southernmost part of the Zirmunai district.
The 103 m long Green Bridge (Zaliasis Tiltas) dates back to 1952 and was once named after a Red Army General.
It boasts four impressive groups of sculptures from the Soviet era which represent agriculture, industry, peace and youth.
They are probably the only communist monuments left in the city. So better make sure that you visit Vilnius soon, just before these sculptures disappear in a museum.
The Green Bridge spans the river Neris just north of the Old Town of Vilnius.
The Palace was originally built for a Bishop in the 14th century, it remained a Bishp's resident until the mid 18th century.
After Lithuania became part of the Russian empire at the end of the 18th century, the Palace became a temporary residence for Russian Tsars and noblemen. In the 19th century, the Palace became the official residence of the Russian Governor-General. In 1812 the Palace housed a couple of famous guests, Russian Tsar Alexander I and French Emperor Napoleon.
After several more uses as an Officer's House for the Soviet Army, an Artist's House and the French Embassy, it was converted to it's present use as the Presidential Palace.
Thanks to my Lithuanian friend Raimix now I know what this palace is! ;-)
It's called "palace of unions" (Profsajungu rumai in Lithuanian) and how does it work? It's used for meetings for groups of common-interests: people gather together there and have some lectures or just talk.
There are also a cinema and a nightclub inside this building!
Thank you again, Raimundas, I have to offer you a Švyturys! ;-)
It took me much time to find any original Soviet car in Vilnius in 2004 but I found it parked in one backyard: original, yellow Soviet Lada called Zsiguli in former Soviet Union in contrast to different, better (but still poor) quality Lada produced for export. I am enough old to remember Zsiguli's countries from 70' and 80': esp. the Soviet Union, Hungary and Bolgaria. Look at its old-fashionable roof rack - really, brilliant example of the best quality of powerful state of ever lasting happines which ruled over half of our globe.
They changed almost all cars in Vilnius from Zsiguli (Lada), Moskvich etc. to, mainly older western European (mostly German) and newer Japanese cars. There were luxary limousines as well but few - it was not Moscow in any way.
Since Lithuania joined European Union on 1 May 2004 there are no customs for cars imported from any EU member. I could see few (more soon, I am sure) older cars imported from say Germany, Netherlands etc. They had characteristic temporary registration (license) plates: red numbers on white. Well, I could see more and more such cars in Poland, as well recently (June 2004).
This building (its one wing on my picture) with characteristic columns was very huge and stood somewhere off the beaten path along Wilnia River.
It reminded me buildings put up by new, communist authorities after WWII in say Krakow, Poland and designed for new "powerful" governmental institutions.
I think this is the Palace of Concerts and Sports, it must have been designed by the Soviets.
It's located across the Neris River, near Gediminas Hill.
Joe S. liked to leave his mark on the countries he conquered, from neo-classical styles to, shall we say, neutral-colored high rise buildings.