“I wander pensively on your streets,
And I sit on stones in old alleys,
The walls speak to me with a familiar voice
And I talk with their souls about long time dead. “
This fragment of Artur Oppman’s beautiful poem (translated by me) perfectly reflects my feelings while walking around Vilnius. I was in this city for the first time, but everything seemed strangely familiar.The architecture reminded me of well known Polish towns. Also, the names of the streets, buildings, people on monuments all were recognizable to me. This place shouts with history, the one I know well from my Polish school, although Lithuanian interpretation of the facts is a bit different.
I wanted to invite you today for a slow stroll along one of the extraordinary streets in Vilnius. We want to be deliberately sluggish in order not to miss the opportunity to look at thousands of plaques hangs on walls and devoted to Lithuanian writers and those from other countries who had something in common with Vilnius.
I’m telling you there are some real pieces of art; some of them painted, sculpted, engraved, made of wood, metal, ceramics, black and white or coloured… Amazing.
Please have a look at my photos, these are only a few examples. Of course, it is not possible to appreciate every single one of them.
I know I missed plaques dedicated to one of the most famous Polish poets, laureate of Nobel prize Wisława Szymborska
These artistic plates and signs were donated to the city by the writers and artists who were in love with Vilnius. The idea was born in 2008. Why did they choose this winding, narrow street? It is because at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, it housed a lot of small, clandestine bookstores and antique shops, and at the number 5 was a home of great poet-bard Adam Mickiewicz. An interesting fact is that 3 countries Lithuania, Poland and Bialorus claim Mickiewicz as their own poet. In this house, in a small room in the attic, Mickiewicz created his most famous works before he was sent into exile.
At number 9, another great Polish-Lithuanian writer lived just before the war. It was the Nobel Prize winner, Czesław Miłosz, who wrote about this house that from all his places around the world this one in Vilnius was probably the most soothing, warm, safe and quiet.
And that’s why the street was given the name Literatu Gatve which means Literary Street