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PostLithuania Photo Gallery (John Eipper, USA, 06/11/17 11:35 am)
Tomorrow will be our final day in Lithuania, which is the first time since the 1980s I have stepped foot in the former Soviet Union. Together with Aldona and sis-in-law Justyna, we've spent three days in full tourism mode. Friday we visited Trakai castle, about 35 KM from Vilnius. Trakai was the home of the 15th-century Grand Duke Vytautas (Witold) the Great, who turned Lithuania into a major regional power. The castle lay in ruins and was reconstructed by the Soviets in the postwar period.
From old ruins to new ruins: yesterday we visited the Socialist planned city of Visaginas, near the borders with Latvia and Belarus, which was built from scratch beginning in 1975 near the Ignalina nuclear energy plant. When Ignalina's second reactor went on-line in 1987, Visaginas was the most powerful station in the world. The facility, of the same design as Chernobyl, was decommissioned as a condition of Lithuania's entry in the EU. Now Visaginas lies in decay, with many of the multi-story apartment blocks vacant. It's chilling to realize that this city thrived for barely 15 years.
Today we toured Vilnius proper, including a visit to the famous Vilnius TV tower, where 14 Lithuanians were killed by Soviet forces during the "January Events" of 1991. More photos to follow in Chapter 2.
Aldona and John at Trakai Island Castle, 9 June 2017
Bridge leading to Trakai Castle
Welcome to Ignalina--John and Justyna pose at decaying entrance sign
Visaginas, Lithuania. "Here we will build a city of the energetic people of the atomic electricity station: August 1975." (Inscription in Lithuanian and Russian)
On the deserted road to Ignalina. Ghost Nuclear plant in background