I’m really interested in the history of the former USSR and Communism. It wasn’t something I knew anything about until AS Level History, but lessons on Stalin’s Russia and the Cold War really intrigued me. As a fan of Eastern Europe, it’s something that I like incorporating in my travel – I think that partly why I find it so interesting is that it didn’t actually happen that long ago.
So imagine my excitement when, having booked a trip to Lithuania, I found out about Grūtas Park; a place dedicated to preserving statues, paintings and memorabilia from the USSR!
With my friend and I based in Vilnius, we decided to make a day of our trip to Grūtas Park. It’s 120km away from the Lithuanian capital, near the border of Poland and Belarus.
Buses from Vilnius to Druskininkai run nearly every hour, and only cost a couple of Euros. The journey itself takes about two hours – just ask the driver to stop at Grūtas.
When you get off the bus, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve gotten off at the wrong location, as you’re dropped off on what appears to be a deserted Lithuanian motorway. Don’t worry! Cross the road and walk through the forest to the end of the road, and you’ll come to the entrance of Grūtas Park.
Word of warning: before you head off to the park, check the return times on the bus schedule. Had my friend and I thought to have done this ourselves, we wouldn’t have missed a bus by five minutes and had to kill time in a nearby café!
Entry to the park is cheap, and even in peak season you’ll only pay €7.50 (about £6.50).
Once you’ve walked through the gates, it’s like you’ve stepped back in time and are in Communist Lithuania, part of the Soviet Union.
There are so many statues to see and pose with.
Inside is a museum with pictures and busts of various leading Communist figures. In another building is a Communist-style library; complete with scary looking dolls that are supposed to be Communist school children.
The grounds of Grūtas Park are vast, complete with a park and a mini zoo. We visited in October when the weather was getting colder, so we basically had the place to ourselves.
Megaphones were dotted in various locations around the park, so you were always in earshot of the various Communist propaganda messages that would blare out at regular intervals.
It was unlike anything I’d ever been to before, and definitely worth a day trip!