Vilnius dismantles controversial ‘Open Beach’ on central square

A municipal company has started dismantling works at the improvised Open Beach in Vilnius which has attracted considerable controversy.

The so-called Open Beach on Lukiškių Square, complete with 300 cubic metres of sand, was opened in June. The city authorities then said it was a gift to the city’s residents who may have had to cancel their vacation trips due to the coronavirus.

However, the initiative caused outrage among some politicians, who said that having the beach on the site was disrespectful, since it was close to a memorial to Lithuania’s anti-Soviet partisan fighters. Moreover, Lukišių Square was execution site of some leaders of the 1863 uprising, they argued.

The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, subsequently passed a law, designating the square as a site of commemoration of the fighters for the country’s independence and outlawing any activities that offended “good morals”.

However, Vilnius authorities – who argued that the law violated the city’s self-governance – left the beach in place until the end of summer, as planned.

Dismantling works began on Tuesday and should be finished on Wednesday, the municipality said.

The 300 cubic metres of sand, that covered 1,660 square metres of the square, will be transported to river and lake beaches in Vilnius.


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