Renovation works promise to turn Lukiškės Square into democratic space

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius speaking about the reconstruction plans of Lukiškės Square

Vilnius Municipality has promised that regeneration of Vilnius’ Lukiškės Square will see it become a “democratic space” for the city.

Since its construction in the 19th century, Lukiškės has acted as the main square in Vilnius and been a key part of the city’s evolution from Tsarist times to the present day.

Over the years it has always been a popular meeting place for the city’s residents and has played host to a number of important trade and sociocultural events.

At the beginning of the 20th century it was home to the Kaziukas folk arts and crafts fair.

It has also seen some of the darkest moment in Lithuanian history – during the 19th century, it was the city’s main location for public hangings.

When Lithuania was under Soviet control from 1940-1990, Lukiškės Square was known as Lenin Square and a statue of the founder of the Soviet Union was placed in its centre until Lithuania regained its independence from the USSR in 1990.

The initial renovation work began on July 12, 2016 and will be finished by September 1. This stage of the process will see the existing lamps and benches removed, while existing plumbing and electricity cables will be updated.

Details of Lukiškės Square reconstruction plans Details of the Lukiškės Square reconstruction plans

All reconstruction works are scheduled to be finished in Autumn 2017.

Speaking at press conference regarding the renovation on July 12, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius said that the square will continue to act as a main meeting point of the city. However, it will take on a different appearance.

“Right now, Lukiškės looks like a classical Imperial square which is not as it should be,” he said. “After the reconstruction it will look like a democratic space.

“When Lithuania gained its independence 26 years ago, the parliament declared it not only the main square of Vilnius, but of the country.

“Our intention is to make a square which will be suitable for official events, concerts and celebrations, but the majority of the square will be a green space, so it will give our residents to chance, play sports and relax.

“We will also be planting more trees around its permitter, so it will be a square and a park at the same time.”

Šimašius added that the cost of the renovation will cost “a little over 3.5 million euros”, and will be mostly funded by the Lithuanian state.

He added that Vilnius Municipality hopes to attract additional private sector funding for the monument and the fountain it plans to install on the square.

All photos by: Saulius Žiūra