Stranger Things fans may know of Lukiškės Prison where grim scenes for Season 4 were shot.
In my view, it was a perfect location for the representation of a Russian gulag and certainly not difficult to imagine many grim, real-life scenes occurring here. For118 years, the space existed as a bona-fide lock up for both criminals and political prisoners alike throughout both World Wars and The Russian Occupation.
In a broader sense, meandering The Balkans – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia – awareness of their similarly tumultuous histories remain omnipresent. – despite varied linguist, historical and cultural backgrounds.
Lukiškės Prison, closed only in 2019, intrinsically connects them to this turmoil in the same way that it simultaneously represents nations trying to break free of their repressive pasts yet maintaining connection to them.
This is done by means of its transformation into a cultural venue hosting musical and theatrical performances, exhibitions, entertainment precincts and artist workshops. Now known as Lukiškės Prison 2.0 it has also become the backdrop for the likes of Stranger Things episodes and other TV shows and films.
So now, Lukiskes 2.0 should be on your list of must dos in addition to meandering through the narrow, cobbled streets of Vilnius old town, admiring the wide, tree lined Baroque boulevards in its newer districts or strolling through the independent republic of Uzupis. Certainly, galivant out of town to Trakai Castle, but also visit Lukiškės Prison and get the scoop via Hollywood style tours offered on the lot.
Personally, I found the atmosphere of this ex-prison facility still decidedly grim. It certainly juxtaposes with the refined beauty of Vilnius more broadly, a city of young hipsters in New York style long overcoats and multiple sushi supplying outfits.
Throughout my visit I felt decidedly uncomfortable, and I can’t imagine keeping a studio here, too creepy for me. in light of all the misery once perpetrated here.
Maybe if I’d gone during the evening when a concert was on and the space was chockas with young creatives, I might have felt differently. But go, it’s an experience.