Inside the Tsar-era prison in central Vilnius, a surreal display of lights and eerie music is part of an alternative Christmas venue, complete with a water-fountain Christmas tree and ominous, blinkering LED screens, light displays and interactive swings.
The prison closed in summer 2019, after serving its purpose across multiple generations, and under Tsarist, Nazi, and Soviet regimes, as well as during inter-war and present-day Lithuania.
Due to its history, some researchers compare Lukiškės to Rakowiecka prison in Warsaw or La Modelo in Barcelona. Both of these facilities were recently closed and converted to public spaces, according to Vilnius authorities.
In the prison’s 115-year history, various criminals, political prisoners, refugees, and important figures were incarcerated. These included Israel’s former prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Menachem Begin, and the Lithuanian Independence Act signatory Jonas Vileišis among others.
Today, the prison’s closed walls protect its architectural heritage, artwork and extensive history. Since the prison was built in the time of the Russian Empire, the territory of the prison includes the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church, adorned with paintings, carpets, and traditional icons, according to Vilnius City Council.
The prison complex also houses a medical facility, where General Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a Lithuanian post-WW2 partisan commander maimed by the Soviet KGB interrogators, was treated.
You can visit the installation everyday from 16:00 to 22:00, from December 20, 2019 until January 5, 2020, The entrance is free.
The installation is closed on December 23-25, and also on December 30-31,