Cultural icons doomed to poorly lit no-man's-land

  • 2008-07-30
  • By Egle Strockyte

DARK AGES: Though many monuments are so poorly lit they are difficult to see, government officials are slow to improve the situation.

VILNIUS - Visitors to Vilnius during the cultural-capital celebrations will have to strain their eyes to see its most famous monuments because of poor lighting. Government squabbling is hindering efforts to improve the situation.
The Cathedral Square and the Hill of Three Crosses are poorly lit at night, but government heads argue that both monuments are in a "no-man's land." No one is taking responsibility for installation of the additional lights. 

Vilma Janulyte, head of Culture Live Vilnius 2009, said the town would be much cozier for tourists and locals if it were better lit. "If Vilnius had more lights it would be more inviting. I hope that the Vilnius municipal government will meet its engagements and light the town up more," she said.
Ricardas Krujalskis, head of the Vilnius Town Provision Department, said that the objects are not in the municipal government's authority. "Both objects, the Cathedral Square and the Hill of Three Crosses, lack light," he said. "The problem is that not all of Vilnius city is under our control, so we cannot make any major decisions, although we know that the problem exists," he added.

Krujalskis said that the Lithuanian Ministry of Economy plans to install at least few lights in the square, but obstacles remain. Apart from being under Vilnius municipality control, the cathedral and crosses also belong to the Vilnius Castle Board and to the church. "Firstly, the government has no legitimate right to install some additional projectors," he said. "Secondly, the land is archaeologically important, so no work can be done. I think the Lithuanian government should take some measures to sort out this mess," he added.
But no one wants to tackle the problem.

The head of the Vilnius Castle Board, Saulius Andrasiunas, said that only part of the land was under the board's management. "Both objects are in a no-man's-land," he said. "The land of both objects is public, but the permission for any additional lights' installation has to be issued by the government. However, that is not legitimate, because the land is important archaeologically. So, in the case of installing some more lighting, neither the government nor the Vilnius Castle Board is entirely responsible," he added.
A specialist at the Vilnius Street Electricity Transmission, Juozas Mizutavicius, said that the company is in charge of providing the objects' surroundings with electricity. "We are not transmitting electricity for the Cathedral Square and of the Hill of Three Crosses, although we are in charge of that area, because the Vilnius government … gave us no order," he said.

Andrasiunas said the Vilnius Castle Board has no funds for more lighting. "Although only about four or five additional lights would be enough to light up the objects properly, we don't have money for that," he said.
The Vilnius municipal government granted around 10 million litas (2,800,200 euros) for the town's lighting fixtures this year. In addition, the government has launched a lighting renovation project with a budget of around 20 million litas, which is not enough for renovation of the entire electrical system.

Vilnius has been named the 2009 European Capital of Culture by the European Union. The mission is to implement the development of cultural structures by renovating them and to develop and reconstruct transportation and information systems in Vilnius.

Vilnius Culture Live 2009 aims to represent Lithuania as a contemporary and open European country. The EU set a budget of more than 85 million litas for the project.