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2019.12.03 17:30

Former Tsar-era prison in Vilnius to host Christmas celebrations

LRT.lt2019.12.03 17:30

Lukiškės prison - a century-old building that once was a maximum-security facility in Vilnius – will open for public this Christmas. 

The prison, built by Russian tsars and also used by the Germans, the Soviets, the Nazis, the Polish, as well as Lithuanian, will welcome visitors with light installations, a Christmas tree made of water and other objects of experimental art, according to the Vilnius Municipality press release.

The Alternative Christmas Yard in Lukiškės prison will host light installations, a a water-sculptured Christmas tree, and interactive swings.

Last year, a similar experimental Christmas hotspot in Vilnius was built on the non-operating platforms of the city’s railway station, according to the municipality.

“The city sees this former prison yard as an open cultural space that may be used for events and other needs of citizens and businesses,” Vilnius’ Mayor Remigijus Šimašius is quoted in the press release.

The prison was built in 1902 when Lithuania was under the rule of the Russian Empire. In 1905, Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church was added to the complex, which also housed administrative offices and apartments for the officers.

The prison has served its role under the Russians, the Germans, the Polish, the Lithuanians, the Soviets, the Nazis, the Soviets again, and finally, the Lithuanian government before it was shut in summer 2019.

Because of the history of Lukiškės prison and its former use for political repression, some researchers compare it to Rakowiecka prison in Warsaw or La Modelo in Barcelona. Both of these facilities were recently closed and converted to public spaces, according to the press release.

“These installations symbolise that Vilnius is an open, brave city that is ready to face the gloomy parts of its history by transforming them into something completely different and unexpected,” said Darius Kupliauskas, the coordinator of the Alternative Christmas Yard project.

“I hope we will be witnessing the beginning of a new artistic tradition,” he added.

You can visit the installation everyday from 16:00 to 22:00, from December 20, 2019 until January 5, 2020, The entrance is free.