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Vilnius’s Lukiškės Prison to be turned into venue

The Lithuanian capital is inviting private developers to help transform the historic city-centre jail into an arts and culture venue

By Jon Chapple on 20 Apr 2021

Lukiškės Prison closed in 2019

Lukiškės Prison closed in 2019

image © Go Vilnius

Lukiškės Prison, an early 20th-century former prison in central Vilnius, will be turned into a versatile entertainment and arts venue under new plans drawn up by the Lithuanian government.

Turto Bankas, a state-owned property company, is inviting private businesses to register their interest in a project to convert the prison complex, which is located next to the Seimas Palace, home to the Lithuanian parliament, into a “multifunctional centre of art, culture, and education”.

Lukiškės Prison, which closed in 2019, is currently leased to an events business and recently served as a shooting location for series four of Netflix’s Stranger Things. Before its closure, it housed around 1,000 inmates (as of 2007) and employed 250 prison guards.

Its six buildings – which also include a hospital, administration buildings and the St Nicholas Orthodox Church – now offer a total area of 2ha (5ac) for events and other public activities; for example, 2019’s ‘alternative Christmas’ event at the prison, which featured art and light installations throughout its courtyards.

Its six buildings offer a total area of two hectares for public events

The regeneration project will involve upgrading a part of the complex for cultural and commercial purposes, according to the city, with the other half focusing on its heritage as a prison, as well as modern “multicultural Lithuanian society”.

According to Turto Bankas, the regeneration project, in addition to entertainment leisure facilities, could include “non-conventional accommodation facilities, a food quarter, co-working spaces, a museum [and] workshops, leisure and entertainment spots” – though it notes that as a protected building, the amount of transformation possible would be limited.

Interested parties, it adds, should be committed to “maintaining the commercial-educational balance” in the revamped venue.


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