Russian and Polish heritage celebrated by open and friendly Vilnius

Russian Street header The Russian Street street sign

On Sunday September 4, Vilnius Municipality unveiled street signs in Russian and Polish on Russian Street (Русская Улица) and Warsaw Street (ulica Warszawska) respectively.

The two signs are the latest in a series of foreign language street signs in the Lithuanian capital. The first to be revealed was Iceland Street earlier in 2016, to celebrate Iceland being the first country to recognise Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The second sign was Washington Square to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the signing of the Welles Declaration in June later on in the year.

The idea behind the signs is to celebrate the role that non-Lithuanian nations have played in Vilnius’ history.

“Vilnius is an open city to everyone, and we are doing our best to make it as comfortable and as welcoming as possible,” said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius after the unveilings. “We want everyone who comes here to be able to live in freedom and peace, and celebrate those who have made Vilnius the colourful, multi-ethnic, and tolerant city that it is today – this is why we fully welcome Russian and Warsaw streets, plus those celebrating other cities, countries, and ethnic groups.”

During the unveiling of the Warsaw Street sign, the Warsaw-born director of the Polish Institute in Vilnius, Marcin Lapčynski (Łapczyński), said the sign is a demonstration of the friendly relations between the Lithuanian capital, and his home city.

Warszawska ul. Marcin Lapčynski and Mayor Šimašius unveiling the Warsaw Street sign

He added that he hopes similar dual-language signs will be installed in other Lithuanian towns and cities with a significant Polish-speaking population in the future.

Statistics provided by Vilnius Municipality show that 128 nationalities make up 34 percent of the city’s population – 16 percent of whom are ethnic Poles, and 12 percent ethnic Russians. The figures also show that 0.6 percent of the population speak two native languages, with respondents claiming they speak Lithuanian and Russian, Lithuanian and Polish, or Russian and Polish.

In the future, the municipality hopes to unveil future signs on German Street, Jewish Street, Tatar Street, and Karaite Street.