Lukiškės Square

  • Lukiškių a., Vilnius

Lukrecijos krikðtynosLukiškės Square is the largest square (about 4 ha) in Vilnius, Lithuania, located in the center of the city. A major street in Vilnius, Gediminas Avenue, passes by the southern border of the square. It is surrounded by many public buildings, including Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign affairs, Appeals Court, Academy of Music and Theater, Church of St. James and St. Phillip, Dominican Monastery with former St. Jacob Hospital. Currently the city of Vilnius holds a contest to redesign the square.

Between the 17th and 19th centuries, it was a suburb of Vilnius and called Lukiškės. The wooden Lukiškės mosque of the Lithuanian Tatars, and their graveyard were prominent features of the suburb. These landmarks were destroyed by the Soviet authorities in the 1960s.

In 1852, Lukishki (Лукишки, as it was known in the Russian Empire) was designated to be reconstructed, and this was carried out in 1860s, with St. George’s Avenue, (now Gediminas Avenue) crossing it from east to west. After the January Uprising in 1863, the Lukiškės Square was one of the areas where public executions of insurgents took place. A particularly famous insurrectionist Konstanty Kalinowski was executed by hanging there on March 24, 1864. Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, the Governor General of the Vilna Governorate, earned the nickmane “The Hanger” from the frequent executions in the square. At the beginning of the 20th century the square was known for the traditional Kaziukas Fair.

The square became a symbol of terror when the hundreds of opponents to the Soviet Union were interrogated, tortured and executed during 1944–1947 and on, in the infamous NKVD Palace, facing the square. Among the victims killed there was the chief commander of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters, Adolfas Ramanauskas “Vanagas”. Today the palace houses Vilnius County Court and the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, as well as the Museum of Genocide Victims in the former prison cells, occupying the basement and underground levels of the palace.

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