May 17, 2024

New free audio guide about activists in Vilnius is available from now

"Modern Vilnius is the way it is because of what the dissidents, the Helsinki Group, the members of the Sąjūdis, and many other unsung heroes, most of whom are not well known and are not taught about in history books, did decades ago," say the creators of a new interactive tour about the dissidents who worked in Vilnius.

Starting today, “The Dissident Tour of Vilnius”, a new audio guide that reveals the underground history, secret meetings of the dissidents and the various ways they resisted the Russian government, is available to everyone and is easy to use. The tour was created by the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development at VMU.

"I have had the honour of meeting a number of people who fought for Lithuania's independence on various projects. Talking to such people, you see clear how valuable they and their friends were and how they built the foundations of the modern state, especially in the areas of human rights, democracy and civic activism. Former activists still remember each other, and often a conversation with one person will lead to several more meetings with his former comrades. After such conversations, we realised how much of Lithuania's history is hidden or simply forgotten, so we set ourselves the goal of telling these secrets to the younger generation, the diaspora, and tourists visiting Vilnius, and letting them hear the untold story through a tool that is convenient and accessible to all," says the tour's creator Neringa Gališanskytė, Project Manager at the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development.

The tour includes 7 places in Vilnius: the Neringa restaurant (where the tour starts), the apartment where Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov stayed, as well as the Supreme Court of Lithuania and other very important places where activists who opposed the Soviet system, not only from Lithuania, but also from other countries, used to meet and discuss various issues.

It is very easy to use this audio guide - you don't need to download any apps, create profiles or accounts, you just need a phone and headphones. To start the tour, you need to enter the name of the tour ( on your mobile phone and, listening to the instructions of the digital guide, you can travel independently to various places in Vilnius that are connected to activists who resisted the Soviet Union.

It is recommended to take a bottle of water, a power bank and an umbrella with you on the tour, as the action takes place outdoors, and you will need to visit the sites yourself while listening to the recorded voice of your guide. The duration of such tour can vary from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on your speed of movement and the choice between visiting the sites or just listening to the stories outside. The tour is free of charge and currently only available in English, but a Lithuanian version is planned for the autumn.
"The Dissident Tour of Vilnius celebrates a number of eminent and deserving personalities. Among them are the founders of the Helsinki Group, Tomas Venclova and Eitan Finkelstein, members of the Sąjūdis, Petras Vaitiekūnas and Vasilis Kapkanas, as well as Viktor Petkus, Andrei Sakharov, Joseph Brodsky, Natalia Gorbanevskaja and Lyudmila Alekseyeva. The stories of Robert van Warren, human rights activist and Director of the Andrei Sakharov Centre, also enriched the content of the tour. The Chronicles of the Catholic Church of Lithuania and various archives were used to find the most interesting and fascinating stories.

The Dissident Tour was presented to the activists of the country and foreign diplomats at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in early May, at the invitation of the Ambassador Mr. Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford. 

"The aim of The Dissident Tour of Vilnius is to awaken the silenced stories and bring them back into the public space, thus educating not only the Lithuanian public, but also foreign audiences. The project aims to show the true Soviet reality without historical pretences. The stories presented here are not only inspiring but also tragic, and there is no attempt to hide the fact that some dissidents had links to the Soviet government and some Russians became real helpers on the road to Lithuanian independence. It can be used as an educational tool not only for visiting tourists, but also for schoolchildren of all ages (from secondary school to university), and for teachers and lecturers, the tour is a useful tool for planning interactive and informative activities outside the school. 

Tour partners: the Neringa restaurant, the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Struggles, the Venclova House Museum, Lukiškės Prison 2.0. Human Rights in Psychiatry - FGIP.