True Lithuania

Southern Vilnius: Naujininkai and Rasos Boroughs

The area to the south of the railroad and east of the Old Town is a 19th-century district of Vilnius that was heavily rebuilt in the Soviet era. Only a minority of buildings are dating to pre-1940 here today. Furthermore, the district has a bad reputation for crime. Still however in Vilnius there are no districts like US ghettos and the differences in crime levels are relatively minor.

The most visited site in this area is the Rasos cemetery (established in 1796). In this cemetery on a hill many 19th and early 20th-century famous people are interred. The inscriptions are mostly Polish although some native speakers of Lithuanian are buried here as well, such as the Vileišiai businessman family, doctor Jonas Basanavičius and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. The heart of the first president of Poland Jozef Pilsudski also found its peace here (Pilsudski was born in what is now Lithuania).

Gravestones and crypts of Rasos cemetery in summer. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Another cemetery belongs to the Old Believers as Naujininkai is a center of this Russian religious community since the 19th century. Their church with a „golden“ dome (actually covered by titanium nitride) built in 1905 still stands next to the cemetery with its peculiar 8-branched crosses.

A Russian Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky is beautiful but small and surrounded by blank Soviet walls.

Markučiai wooden manor, once owned by the family of famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, is also in Rasos. A Pushkin museum is now opened inside (as Lithuanian philosopher A. Juozaitis states in his book, a memorial to Pushkin has been created in every Soviet city). If it is worth a visit it is not because of the poet himself (who never visited Vilnius), but because of the old furniture and layout giving a vivid image on how the upper middle class of the Russian Empire lived.

Markučiai manor stands on a hill, surrounded by a nice park. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

mapof Rasos borough

Map of Rasos borough. ©Augustinas Žemaitis, Open Street Map.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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