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The heart of Europe

  • 2008-05-28
  • By Adam Mullett

 VILNIUS - Most Vilnius locals will tell you that the city is most beautiful and enjoyable in the spring. After the freeze has melted, people's hearts thaw and everything starts to bloom.
One of the lovely places to visit around the city in the springtime is Europos Parkas. You might be surprised to know that it is at the very center of the European continental plate, which extends to the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Europos Parkas (Europe Park) is an open-air museum and nature reserve about 11 kilometers from Lithuania's capital city. It has sculptures made by artists from 27 different countries. 
The park's founder, Gintaras Karosas, started clearing neglected woodlands in 1987. The park opened in 1991 when Karosas built the first sculpture, marking the foundation of the open-air museum.
Karosas believes there are many reasons to go to Europos Parkas at any time of year.
"The best thing about an open air museum is that you are outside and you are in nature. It is good to get away from all the pollution and appreciate the art," Karosas said.

According to Karosas, who believes that the art changes in context, the advantages of Europos Parkas are easy to see and feel. When the sun is shining, you will relate to it differently than when the ground is covered with snow or when it is raining.
"The greatest thing about an open air museum is that you feel different with every season; at every time of day. The feelings and understanding that you get 's you just can't get that in an indoor museum," Karosas said.

Not only is the park a great place to relax and enjoy cultural exhibits, it is a place to learn. An educational center, which is a first in art and architecture for Lithuania, is located in the park. The center took six years to complete. It is aimed at young people.
"They can relate to the collection here 's learn about art, discovery and joy," Karosas said.
Artists from other countries fill the park with sculptures. World famous sculptors like Magdalena Abakanowicz from Poland, Sol LeWitt and Dennis Oppenheim from the United States are on display in the park. These artists have produced some of the most striking pieces for visitors.

Though there are many open-air art museums in Europe, Ruta Dirsiene of the Lithuanian Ministry of Tourism believes that Europos Parkas is comparable to famous parks in Western Europe.
"You can go to Barcelona and see the Park Guell [by Antoni Gaudi] and it is beautiful art in a beautiful landscape. That is what we have here... interesting sculptures in a beautiful landscape," Dirsiene said.
Dirsiene believes Europos Parkas is something that everyone should definitely go and experience when they come to Lithuania.

"The park is always getting better and better because the owners are very active. I think it is very interesting not only for tourists, but also for Lithuanians," Dirsiene said.
Spring is the best time to go to Europos Parkas. "We are welcoming people in the best time of the year 's the trees and flowers are blossoming and the sun is shining," Karosas said.
Admission prices are 21 litas (6.08 euros) for adults, 14 litas for students and 7 litas for schoolchildren.

Opening hours 10 a.m. until sunset everyday.
www.europosparkas.lt
+370 5 2377 077