The Grutas Park is southern Lithuania’s biggest tourist attraction and has been open since 2001. The Park was the brainchild of mushroom entrepreneur Viliumas Malinauskas, who bought all the park’s sculptures in the decade after the country became independent in 1991. He realized that after the downfall of Communism and the break up of the Soviet Union, all the statues from this era of Lithuanian history would need a home and so the Grutas Park came into existence. My guide wouldn’t verify that Malinauskas had wanted to take people around the park in a train pulling cattle trucks, similar to those used to export many post-WWII Lithuanians to the gulags in Siberia.

It takes over an hour to walk around the park. Each statue has an English translation of where the statue stood in the Communist era; for example, the Stalin statue stood outside the train station in Vilnius, which must have cheered commuters no end as they shuffled to their work. There are no statues or pictures of Trotsky, but not all the statues are of Stalin, Marx, and Lenin. Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, is present looking very sleek and sinister in a long cape. There are statues of Lithuanian heroes such as Maryte Melnikaite who was shot by the Nazis in 1943 and of the Four Communards, the underground communist leaders who were shot in 1926 in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city.

julian200Julian has written articles on Middle Eastern and European architecture for the US magazine Skipping Stones. He has written travel articles that were published in The Toronto Globe and Mail, Fate Magazine, National Catholic Register, and Northwest Travel. Julian has also written articles for the In The Know Traveler, Go Nomad, InTravelmag, and Go World Travel websites. He has also taken many photographs that have appeared in travel guides by National Geographic, Thomas Cook and The Rough Guides. Examples of his work can be found at http://www.photographersdirect.com/sellers/details.asp?portfolio=13734