This road bridge central Vilnius
, across the Neris River is called "Green Bridge" ('Žaliasis tiltas' in Lithuanian) because the main steel body of this bridge is indeed painted a kind of green. But what used to set it apart from other bridges was the fact that its bridgeheads were still adorned with four sets of Soviet
-era ensembles of statues, each over 10 feet (3.2 m) high. They represented fine examples of classic socialist-realist
depictions of the merits of a communist
society, with equal glory allocated to farmers, construction workers, scientists/education, and soldiers.
The latter, represented by a pair of statues called “Guarding Peace”, were the most controversial from the viewpoint of independent post-Soviet Lithuania in as much as they still featured the hammer-and-sickle symbol. I found that counterpointed by the fact that they were looking towards a NATO
flag when I was there in2014 … I think there may have been some kind of NATO gathering or conference going on at the time. Given the recent developments in Russia
, however, the juxtaposition inadvertently also exuded grimmer implications …
All four groups of statues were not in the best of shape and badly in need of restoration work. Some parts were only crudely held together by additional metal plates and screws. A plaque added after independence that commemorates the repression and the countless deportations under the Soviet regime, on the other hand, looked perfectly polished
Also squeaky clean and shiny is the added modern sculpture under the bridge, called “chain” and made up of three intertwined silver rings dangling over the water surface. It's probably just as well that given its hidden location this modern addition will hardly be noticed by anybody ...
Then in 2015 the Soviet statues were removed and have so far not been returned (initially there was hope they'd only been taken away for restoration). Instead new artwork has taken their places on the plinths now, so the removal seems to be permanent. Typical Baltic-style anti-Soviet iconoclasm, I say!
But you can view the photos
I took in 2014 below …
Of course the Green Bridge as such isn’t lost as it is still there, but its relevance as a dark-tourism attraction has indeed been lost.
- Green Bridge 01 - bridgeheads with Soviet statuary
- Green Bridge 02 - celebrating agriculture Socialist Realist style
- Green Bridge 03 - shitty scientists
- Green Bridge 04 - barely held together
- Green Bridge 05 - soldiers now eye to eye with Nato
- Green Bridge 06 - past atrocities
- Green Bridge 07 - ex-Soviet spearhead
- Green Bridge 08 - now the world seems upside down for some