Gediminas Hill with its tower can collapse

  • 2010-08-11
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

RUMBLING MENACE: Gediminas Tower on top of Gediminas Hill.

VILNIUS - Already for a couple of years, geologists say that the Gediminas Hill and, therefore, the Gediminas Tower on top of it, can collapse in the very heart of Vilnius due to landslides caused by melting snow after especially cold winters, and from tropical rains which now attack Vilnius from time to time during the current heat wave. Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas built his wooden castle on top of the mound in the 14th century. In the 15th century, Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas turned it into a stone construction of which only that tower, offering panoramic views of Vilnius and, therefore, being a symbol of Vilnius, remains. In case of a fall, the hill can also ruin the Palace of Lithuanian Grand Dukes, which is in the final phase of reconstruction now and which is situated near the base of the hill.

“The hill is also crumbling because some people steal stones from the reinforcements of the hill,” Birute Kulnyte, director of the National Museum (which is situated near the base of the hill and which is the owner of Gediminas Tower), told journalists on the improvised briefing on Gediminas Hill on July 28. She also said that she would be glad to take care of Gediminas Hill if the mound would be officially recognized as owned by the National Museum.

One more problem for the hill is the Lithuanian obsession with tree planting. The mound is covered with trees. During windy weather, their roots are vibrating as well. The German idea to make a tunnel in the hill during the Nazi occupation was not healthy for the mound either, though the tunnel was filled in with soil after WWII.
The problem increases due to the fact that, although it belongs to the state, there is no particular owner of the hill. “We are looking for an institution which would be in charge of the hill. The working group was created for it,” Culture Minister Arunas Gelunas told journalists on Aug. 4.

The Directorate of the State Cultural Reserve of Vilnius Castles also stated that it is ready to take ownership of Gediminas Hill. Gelunas says that Gediminas Hill is such a symbol of state that all the necessary money will be found for the mound’s strengthening. It is possible that some money can be used from that planned for the reconstruction of Sereikiskiu Park, which is situated near the hill. The park’s reconstruction cost is estimated at 10 million litas (2.9 million euros), and most of the financing comes from EU funds. Gelunas also stated that some private money can be used as well, but he was not yet able to give some details on how he imagines collecting private money for such purpose.