Lithuania is transforming abandoned buildings

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In Lithuania, more and more old rooms are being adapted for reuse in new construction. Historical preservation of old structures and increased focus on sustainability play an important role here. Places that, according to many, previously ruined the city view, are revived as a cultural meeting place. Groups that enrich the rural heritage with music and art often meet here.

Various items have been transformed into this. An unused digger has been transformed into an eco-friendly art building, located in the middle of Lithuania’s largest river. An old prison has also been renovated into a venue for concerts, historical exhibitions and residences for artists.

More than ever, cities are focusing on reinterpreting the old meaning of buildings and reshaping their value in a new era. As urbanization progressed, old cafes and train platforms were also renovated into new cultural centers. Travelers visiting Lithuania now have the unique opportunity to see both past and present merge in these recycled spaces. A drink with Tony Soprano for example. A lively, industrial and colorful bar called PERSONAS is located next to the tracks of the old train station in Vilnius. Built in 1950, this train station served as a stopover for people traveling from St. Petersburg to Waschau.

This bar now doubles as a social hangout, sporadic art gallery and home to the infamous Tony Soprano statue that greets visitors as they arrive in the capital’s station district, which Time Out says is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.

There are a number of other clubs and bars nearby, making this area perfect for a one-stop shop on a night out. The Luksikes prison was built sometime in 1905 in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The sprawling complex has housed criminals and political prisoners who were put away as undesirables by the political powers that were dominant at the time and then by, for example, Tsarist Russia, Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

The building is now a place where culture, creative expression and community meet. It is home to more than 250 artists, historical and art exhibitions, as well as several bars and an alternative concert venue. Several well-known artists – from British indie act King Krule to German techno group Moderat – have performed at this venue, inviting locals and tourists alike to this centuries-old prison.

The prison has also been transformed into the filming location for the Netflix series Stranger Things, the fourth season of which was shot on location during the winter months of 2020 and 2021.

There is also talk of a rebirth of industrial space. A new cultural center – LOFTAS Art Factory – has emerged in a former historic tape recorder factory, giving this industrial building a fresh coat of paint and fresh ideas. Although LOFTAS no longer produces audio equipment, it still has a great influence on Lithuanian music.

The center serves as a stage for Lithuanian artists and small bands seeking more name recognition, as well as well-known artists from around the world. Visitors are greeted with a pleasant free atmosphere before they even enter the building, thanks to the huge murals by modern artists on the property.

There is also plenty of youthful energy by the sea. One of Klaipėda’s—Lithuania’s largest port city—most vibrant nighttime destinations lies next to the harbor in an inactive industrial complex. This cultural space, called Hofas, allows visitors to relive the youthful feeling of playing with friends in the garden. The complex is now a meeting place for the rebellious adult children with several bars – including the well-known Herkus Kantas – and a concert venue where visitors can forget about life for a while.

In the former ship docks, connoisseurs of modern culture and entertainment can also experience a variety of experiences – from local indie music bands and arthouse film nights to popular DJs and nightclub acts. In addition, an art gallery named Tema is located on the side of the Danė River, which has built an exhibition space and housing for artists whose artworks have become a fundamental part of the space.

Workations, weekend yoga sessions and several other cultural projects take place in the Hofas area.
The ship full of culture is Nemuno7, located in the town of Zapyškis near Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. It is the original name of a digger who once deepened the Memel river bed. The current user solution for this unused and environmentally harmful ship is onystan through a fusion of sustainability, nature and culture. The original ship is still completely intact with some additions here and there to maintain its authenticity.

Today, this space hosts eco-friendly art exhibitions, interdisciplinary events and other performances inspired by the legendary river next door. Guided tours are available for those interested in Lithuania’s largest river, its history and how Nemuno7’s exhibits reflect it.

The center of Kaunas’ art scene is the Kaunas Picture Gallery, a branch of the MK Čiurlionis Art Museum. It opened in 1979. The first floor now houses an exhibition room, lobby, cloakroom and café – reborn as Kultūra after more than thirty years.

Retaining its Fluxus-inspired atmosphere and authentic decor, this café is now a meeting place for all kinds of audiences – from bohemian youth to art lovers who have been regulars since the gallery’s opening. As a country full of art and culture, Lithuania has a lot to offer for all generations.

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