Žirmūnai

Žirmūnai

Žirmūnai (pron. Audio-IPA|Lt_Zirmunai.ogg|ʒirmūnaǐ, IPAEng|ʒɝˈmuːneɪ) is the most populous administrative division (elderate) in Vilnius. It is also a neighbourhood in the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius, encompassing the city district of the same name, built in the 1960s.

Žirmūnai's history has been traced to the late 14th century, when a fishing village was founded across the River Neris from Vilnius' Old Town. The Žirmūnai area is steeped in history, having at one time been the home of Lithuania's largest Jewish cemetery, as well as the location of mass graves of soldiers belonging to Napoleon's Grande Armée and victims of the NKGB's and MGB's executions after World War II. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.lietuvospilys.lt/data/tiltas-krosnis.htm |title=Archaeological research near King Mindaugas Bridge|accessdate=2007-02-19 |author=Gediminas Gendrėnas, Egidijus Ožalas|date=2002-2003 |publisher=Vilniaus pilys] Tuskulėnai Manor, built in 1825, and the surrounding Peace Park are expected to become important historical and cultural attractions in Vilnius after their restoration, scheduled for completion in 2008.

The area was given the name Žirmūnai during the early 1960s, when it became the site of an award–winning residential construction project; it was the first city district in the Lithuanian SSR to be constructed applying urban planning concepts established in the USSR at the time. The massive Palace of Concerts and Sports and Žalgiris Stadium are other relics of Žirmūnai's Soviet history. Žirmūnai was important to the industrial sector in the USSR; since that time, this function has been replaced or supplanted by newer businesses, including some of Lithuania's leading companies.

Žirmūnai has undergone major renovation and development in the 21st century. "Šiaurės miestelis" ("North Town") is an area of Žirmūnai that has rapidly evolved into one of the key business and residential districts of the city. This quarter was used by a number of regimes as a military garrison, and internationally significant historical findings have been made in the area.

Geography

The Žirmūnai elderate occupies 5.7 km² or 1.4 % of the total area of the municipality of Vilnius according to data used for the 2001 census. Žirmūnai is located north of central Vilnius, along the western bank of the River Neris, on a flat plain which rises to the north. The elderate extends for about 4.4 kilometres from north to south, and is about 1.5 kilometres across at its widest point. The southernmost point of the Žirmūnai elderate is only some 450 metres from Vilnius' Cathedral Square, in the centre of the city. Žirmūnai is bordered by the elderates of Verkiai in the north and Šnipiškės in the west, and is separated from Vilnius' Old Town and Antakalnis by the Neris. Žirmūnai's western boundary is defined by the following streets (from north to south): Verkių, Žvalgų, Kalvarijų, Žalgirio, and Rinktinės. The River Neris serves as Žirmūnai's northern, eastern and southern boundary. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.vilnius.lt/vaktai/Default.aspx?item=find&dokid=21001447 |title=Decision No. 37: Regarding the number and boundaries of Vilnius City elderates |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006-06-09 |publisher=Vilnius City Council] Žirmūnų Street is the district's main artery.Despite the proximity of the city centre, the Žirmūnai bank of the River Neris is covered with a strip of dense deciduous forest that begins at the Žirmūnai Bridge and continues upstream (northeasterly). The forested strip is largely uninterrupted, with gaps near bridges. At the approximate centrepoint of the Žirmūnai shoreline, [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.vilnius.lt/seniunijos/img/0127_1200.gif|title=Map of Žirmūnai elderate (1:12,000) |accessdate=2006-12-16 |author=Vilniaus planas, Municipality Company |year=2004 |format=GIF |publisher=Vilnius City Municipality] the forest surrounds a backwater, which had been used to park disused passenger ferries. The forest's northernmost section is part of a botanical nature reserve within Verkiai Regional Park.

The Žirmūnai bank of the River Neris, from a point near Žirmūnai Bridge and continuing downstream, was stabilised during the 1980s with a steeply–sloped concrete net–like structure which includes patches of grass between the "webbing" of the net; the lower part of the fortification is a concrete tiled walkway, ending just over 4 kilometres downstream, beyond Liubartas Bridge in Žvėrynas. The walkway is used extensively by walkers, joggers, and cyclists, as well as providing seating for anglers. Construction vehicles sometimes use it to reach work areas. The walkway is submerged during the river floods, mostly in springtime.

Demographics

Ethnicity

As of the census taken in April 2001, the ethnic makeup of Žirmūnai was 59.2% Lithuanian, 16.8% Russian (the third highest percentage among Vilnius' elderates, behind Naujoji Vilnia and Naujininkai), 14.4% Poles (the fourth lowest percentage), 3.8% Belarusian, 1.7% Ukrainian (the highest percentage, along with Naujamiestis), 0.8% Jewish, 0.2% Tatar, 0.1% Latvian, 0.1% Armenian, and 2.9% other or unspecified ethnicity.

Population

According to the 2001 census, Žirmūnai was the most populous elderate in Vilnius (47,410 residents, comprising 8.7% of Vilnius' total population) and the third most populous in Lithuania after Šilainiai and Dainava, Kaunas. [ en icon cite web |url=http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/pages/view/?id=1730 |title=Number of population of Vilnius city by neighbourhood |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2005-12-01 |publisher=Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania] The population density was 8,317.5/km². According to the census, there were 21,363 private households in the Žirmūnai elderate,en icon cite book |title=Vilnius City in Figures |url=http://www.stat.gov.lt/puslapiai/vasv/pdf/vs/05.pdf |format=PDF |accessdate=2006-12-16 |year=2004 |publisher=Vilnius Regional Statistical Office |location=Vilnius |pages=44 |chapter=5: Population] making for an average household size of about 2.2 persons. The population of Žirmūnai has been rapidly increasing, largely due to construction of residential buildings in the "Šiaurės miestelis" section of the elderate. A former elder of Žirmūnai estimated its 2002 population to be about 60,000 residents – an increase of about 13,000 over the 2001 census figure. This rapid growth has placed a strain on city services. [lt icon cite journal |date=2002-02-06 |title=Concerns of the Chairman of Sąjūdis and Žirmūnai elder |journal=XX amžius |volume=10 |issue=1017 |url=http://www.xxiamzius.lt/archyvas/xxiamzius/20020206/susi_01.html |accessdate=2006-12-16 ]

Age cohorts

Žirmūnai is occasionally described as a "borough of elderly people" or even a "borough of elderly women". There is a certain statistical basis to the claim: according to the data of the April 2001 census, [en icon cite web |url=http://www.stat.gov.lt/puslapiai/vasv/vsavsensk/surasymas%20seniunijomis.pdf |title=Total area and population in neighbourhoods (administrative districts) of Vilnius Municipality |accessdate=2006-12-16 |format=PDF |publisher=Vilnius Regional Statistical Office |pages=1] only about 43.5 percent of Žirmūnai's population were male, the second lowest percentage in Vilnius, after Žvėrynas (43.1 percent); 27.4 percent of the population (33.2 percent of women and 19.9 percent of men) were of legal retirement age, which was 57.5 years for women and 61.5 years for men at the time. This is the highest percentage in Vilnius; accordingly, Žirmūnai had the lowest percentage of residents that were statistically of working age (defined as over age 15 and up to the retirement age) in Vilnius, only 56.4 percent in total: 52.8 percent of women and 61.1 percent of men.

The heavy proportion of elderly persons in the district may be attributed to the settled way of life of those residents who arrived during the building boom of the 1960s: the children of these residents moved elsewhere to live, leaving their parents in the old dwelling. The skewed male–female ratio is probably an artifact of the differential between male and female lifespans in Lithuania (male average lifespan in Lithuania was 66 years in 2004, as against 78 for females), according to the World Health Organization. [ en icon cite web |url=http://www3.who.int/whosis/core/core_select.cfm |title=Core Health Indicators |accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=WHO Statistical Information System (WHOSIS) |publisher=The World Health Organization]

At the time of the 2001 census, persons aged between 0 and 15 years comprised 16.1 percent of Žirmūnai's population, the second lowest percentage among Vilnius' elderates, slightly higher than Viršuliškės at 15.5 percent. However, it is likely that the average age of Žirmūnai's residents has decreased since the last census, and will continue to decrease, as a result of the active construction of new dwellings, which are acquired primarily by younger people. As housing prices rise, retirees are motivated to sell their apartments with the goal of acquiring cheaper housing elsewhere with funds to spare.

Crime statistics

In 2005, 2,317 crimes were registered in the Žirmūnai elderate. This is the third highest figure among Vilnius' elderates, behind the Old Town and Naujamiestis. Using the population data of the latest available census (2001), this would amount to about 48.9 crimes per 1,000 residents per year (only the eighth highest figure, due to the elderate's large population; Vilnius' total crime rate, using the same population data, would be about 51 crimes per 1,000 residents). In terms of crime density, 406.5 crimes per 1 square kilometre were registered (the fourth highest figure, behind the Old Town, Naujamiestis and Šnipiškės; Vilnius' total crime density, using the same population data, would be about 70.4).

However, thanks largely to the crime prevention programme "Saugus miestas" ("Safe City"), crime rates in Žirmūnai, as in all other elderates of Vilnius, are declining. For instance, 886 crimes were registered in Žirmūnai during the first four months of 2005, versus 672 during the same period of 2006, a decline of about 24 percent. If this trend continues, Žirmūnai's crime rate for 2006 would decrease to about 37.2 crimes per 1,000 residents.

The most frequently registered crimes during the first four months of 2006 were: theft (335 instances, including 19 car thefts, constituting about 50 percent of the total number of crimes); rape (259 instances or about 38.5 percent of the total); robbery (44 instances or about 6.5 percent); and bodily injury (20 instances or about 3 percent). Percentage data may overlap as one criminal act may have several features, which are registered separately, but the total number of crimes is calculated per incident. lt icon cite web |url=http://www.vilnius.lt/newvilniusweb/index.php/46/ |title=Map of Safe City |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Vilnius city municipality]

History

The elderate of Žirmūnai embraces three historical suburbs of Vilnius: "Žvejai", "Tuskulėnai" and "Šiaurės miestelis". Fishing village "Žvejai" dating to the 14th century included the only glass factory in the 16th century Lithuania, as well as the largest Jewish cemetery. It became an integral part of Vilnius in the 16th century. The area south of Žvejai became known after the name of the Tusculanum Manor. Manor itself was a property of noble families and officials, and is the oldest building in Žirmūnai. In the 19th century, a military garrison was established in the present-day "Šiaurės miestelis", which was used by Russian, French and Polish armies. These territories were consolidated into Vilnius city during the period of rapid growth that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The Tuskulėnai Manor was used as the KGB officers' apartments back then. In the last years, a housing renovation program was launched in Žirmūnai. Military structures in "Šiaurės miestelis" of a historical value have been preserved and restored. "Šiaurės miestelis" became one of the most sought–after residential and commercial areas of Vilnius.

14th–19th centuries

Žirmūnai's southernmost section, which lies on the bank of the River Neris opposite the Vilnius Castle Complex, was part of the settlement known as "Žvejai"; another part of that settlement is now located within the elderate of Šnipiškės. According to archaeological surveys from 2005, a fishing village may have been located here as early as the late 14th century, giving the area its name, literally, "Fishermen"; it was later settled by craftsmen and housed the Orthodox Church of St Barbara. During the 16th century, the only glass factory in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was located in the suburb of "Žvejai". In 1563, after the construction of the first bridge over the River Neris (at the approximate location of today's Mindaugas Bridge), the suburb of "Žvejai" became an integral part of the city of Vilnius. lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=7133408 |title=Unique discoveries in the uncovered historical suburb of Vilnius |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2005-07-22 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Baltic News Service] During Tsarist rule in the 19th century, the name of "Žvejai" was superseded by that of "Piramont", originating from the small estate of Piramont in the area. [ ru icon cite web |url=http://szhaman.livejournal.com/26211.html|title=Вильна в 19 веке |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006|publisher=] "Piramontskij" Alley can be seen in a 1904 map of Vilnius ru icon cite web |url=http://vilnius-liudi.nm.ru/map1904.gif|title=План горда Вилны (Vilnius City Plan 1904)|accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006|publisher=] where today's "A. Juozapavičiaus" Street in the elderate of Šnipiškės is located, close to the boundary of Žirmūnai. The usage of "Piramont" as a placename gradually became limited to the southern part of "Žvejai".

The heritage of "Žvejai" was retained in the name of "Žvejų" ("Fishermen's") Street, which runs alongside the River Neris in southern Šnipiškės and Žirmūnai. However, the Žirmūnai section of this street was renamed "Olimpiečių" ("Olympians") in 2000 to commemorate the achievements of Lithuanian Olympic athletes in the Sydney Olympics. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=86397 |title=The Olympians Street – in honour of the valiant sportsmen |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2000-10-05 |publisher=Delfi.lt and ELTA] The largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in Lithuania, first mentioned in 1592, was also located in Žvejai. It was known in the local Jewish community as "Shnipishok". [en icon cite web |url=http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5765/REI65features2.htm |title=Can Anything Be Done to Save The Remnants of Vilna's Old Jewish Cemetery? |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Rabinowitz |first=Binyomin |date=2005-08-31 |publisher=Dei'ah veDibur] The Yiddish placename later became associated with the whole borough of Šnipiškės, now bordering Žirmūnai on the west. Although the cemetery was officially closed in 1830 and was subject to gradual deterioration, there were further interments. Vilna Gaon, as well as other famous Vilnian Jews, were interred in the cemetery.

During the years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the area on the right bank of the River Neris opposite the St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Antakalnis, a Royal Manor called "Derevnictva" (Polish: "Derewnictwo"), was established in the mid–16th century by King Sigismund Augustus as an outpost of the Vilnius Castles. The manor was held by the kings Sigismund III Vasa and Władysław IV Vasa, nobleman M. Piegłowski, the Wołowicz family, the Grand Hetman of Lithuania Michał Kazimierz Pac, as well by the Tyzenhaus family after 1741. In the mid–18th century, Lateran monks acquired the manor and named it "Tusculanum", after the resort outside the ancient Roman city of Tusculum. [en icon cite web |url=http://www.villatuscolana.it/fsistemauk.htm |title=The Tusculanum Villas |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Ufficio Commerciale] (see also: Villa Rufinella) The surrounding forests were used as a game reserve and for sport fishing. Towards the end of the century, the manor was separated into the folwarks of Tuskulėnai, based on the core of the old royal manor, and Derevnictva.lt icon cite web |url=http://www.heritage.lt/epd/2006/vilnius/pristatomi_objektai.htm |title=The objects in Vilnius County presented to the public during the European Heritage Days 2006 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Department of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture]

Under the rule of the Russian Empire in the 19th century, the Tuskulėnai Manor was held by various noble families and high–ranking state officials, including Governor General of Lithuanian–Vilna Governorate, Alexander Rimsky-Korsakov. In the mid–19th century the main palace was transformed into a guesthouse that became a cultural center in Vilnius, often visited by Stanislaw Moniuszko and Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. [lt icon cite journal |last=Butkus |first=Visvaldas |date=2003-08-22 |title=Study on Tuskulėnai (Book Review) |journal=Literatūra ir menas |issue=2964 |url=http://ct.svs.lt/lmenas/?leid_id=2964&kas=straipsnis&st_id=3028 |accessdate=2006-12-16 ] The manor passed into the possession of Julija Safranovich after 1886, and then was held by Olga Melentjeva and her noble family until World War II.

The area surrounding Tuskulėnai Manor was referred to as "Tuskulėnai" (Russian: "Tuskuljany"; Polish: "Tuskulanum")pl icon cite web |url=http://www.ketrzyn.mm.pl/~wwmkiewicz/ws/wilno%20plan/index.htm |title= Vilnius City Plan in 1935|accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=W. M. Stankiewicz] until World War II. This area was also known as "Losiovka" or "Losiuvka", colloquially named after A. Losev, colonel of Special Corps of Gendarmes and later general of the Russian Empire, who owned the folwark of Tuskulėnai in 1869. The placenames are associated primarily with individual wooden houses, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some of which are still scattered among the apartment buildings. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.paveldas.vilnius.lt/objektas.php?ID=6072&nID=22524&gID=9 |title=Žirmūnų Street 1a. |accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=Baltic InterSAVE (Survey of Architectural Values in the Environment) |publisher=Vilnius city municipality]

A military garrison was built in the approximate location of the modern "Šiaurės miestelis" ("North Town", that is, north of Old Vilnius) section of Žirmūnai by the Russian Empire during the 19th century. This area went on to be used as a garrison by a number of armies: Napoleon's Grande Armée in 1812, Tsarist for the rest of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century (see: the 27th infantry division's camp in the map of 1904), the Bolsheviks during World War I, the Polish army in the inter-war period, and the Red Army from the 1950s to 1992.

20th century

During the interwar period, when Vilnius was under Polish control, the southern part of "Žvejai" was known as "Pióromont"; the entire "Žvejai" area was referred to as "Rybaki" (Polish for "Fishermen"); modern "Šiaurės miestelis" had been called "Plac broni" (Polish for the "Military training ground"); and the old placename of "Derewnictwo", dating back to the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, applied to the area north of Tuskulėnai Manor. [pl icon cite web |url=http://vilnius-liudi.nm.ru/map_.jpg|title= Vilnius City Plan. Year 1921 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |author= |format=JPG |publisher=]

A map of Vilnius published in 1942, while the city was under Nazi rule, shows the northern part of Žirmūnai as "Paneriškės" [ The name comprises the Lithuanian suffix "–išk", frequently used to construct placenames, the prefix "pa–", indicating proximity, and root "Neris", combining to indicate "a place by the River Neris". This place was known as Ponariszki during the Polish rule.] , the middle section as "Kareiviškės" ("place of soldiers") and the southern part, close to the Tuskulėnai Manor, as "Mantiškės" ("a place named in honour of Mantas"). One of the streets in the area, "Enriko Manto" Street, referred to Herkus Mantas (Herkus Monte), a hero of the Great Prussian Uprising; today "H. Manto" Street is a short street in the Šnipiškės elderate ending at the boundary of Žirmūnai.en icon cite web |url=http://www.ngr.lt/map/vilnius42/vilnius42.php?kalba_l=EN&mast=100 |title=Vilnius Map. Year 1942 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |author=Vilnius city municipality, Board of Construction |format=JPG |publisher=The Union of Supporters of the Lithuanian Narrow Gauge Railway]

A Soviet military base was established in the current "Šiaurės miestelis" section of Žirmūnai during the 1950s. The heavily wooded northernmost part of the elderate was thinly populated until the 1960s.

During the 1960s, Žirmūnai attracted the attention of urban planners; it became the first city district in the Lithuanian SSR to be constructed applying urban planning concepts established in the USSR at that time. Designed in 1962, the district consisted of three microdistricts - residential and industrial sections centred around public facilities and had been the largest residential area in the city.

The first microdistrict, or "Žirmūnai I", which is district's middle section, was built in 1962—67 in accordance with a project by architect Birutė Kasperavičienė, who was avarded the USSR State Prize in 1968, together with architect Bronislovas Krūminis and engineer Vaclovas Zubras; [lt icon Papšys, Antanas "Vilnius. Turistui apie miestą", Vilnius "Mintis" 1977, IB No 1164, p. 100 ] it was the first time this award had been presented to the designers of a large–scale residential construction. The second microdistrict, "Žirmūnai II", which is the southernmost of the three, was built in 1964—68, its architect being Nijolė Chlomauskienė. And the third, the northernmost microdistrict, "Žirmūnai III" designed by architect Laima Burneikienė was built in 1964—69 in the site of the former village of Paneriškės. [lt icon "Lietuvos TSR kultūros ir paminklų sąvadas", Vilnius, Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija,1988, pp. 71-73 ] The city district was then named after the formerly Lithuanian [lt icon [http://viduramziu.lietuvos.net/etno/etno19a.htm Ethnographic map or Vilnius region in the 19th century] . Retrieved on 2007-05-02.] village of "Žirmūnai" ( _ru. "Zhirmuny"), now situated 16 kilometres from the Lithuania–Belarus border in the Voranauski District, Hrodna Province of Belarus. This village is where Karol Podczaszyński, an architect and designer of Tuskulėnai Manor, was born.

The new residential housing in the microdistrict consisted almost exclusively of five–story concrete block apartment buildings. Three nine–story high–rise apartment buildings were built in 1969, and several more were constructed later, as well as seven brick–built twelve–storys. The apartment buildings were meant primarily to accommodate industrial workers who came to Vilnius from other regions of the Lithuanian SSR and from other Soviet Republics. They typify the Brutalist architecture of the era. The principles governing the design of the microdistrict were set forth in books by the University of Moscow planners, for instance in "New Element of Populating. En Route to the New City" published in the USSR in 1966 [ru icon cite web |url=http://www.i-u.ru/biblio/archive/jadov_sociologija/05.aspx|title=Sociology of the City|accessdate=2006-12-16 |author=O. Janickij |publisher=] (although the concept of the "new element" has been dated to 1959 [ru icon cite web |url=http://www.projectclassica.ru/project/19_2006/19_project_02a.htm|title=Homeless Architector|accessdate=2006-12-16 |author=G. Revzin|publisher=] ); the book was later published as "The Ideal Communist City" in the United States, United Kingdom and Italy. [ru icon cite web |url=http://www.muar.ru/exibitions/2003/exibit051203j.htm|title=Ideal Contest for Ideal City|accessdate=2006-12-16 |author=Л. Илья Георгиевич|publisher=State Museum of Architecture in Moscow] According to the book, the optimal apartment size was about 600 square feet (56 square metres), with one bathroom and two bedrooms. Single–family homes were considered "too autonomous". [en icon cite web |url=http://www.ti.org/vaupdate53.html |title=Smart Growth and the Ideal City |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2005-05-06 |work=Vanishing Automobile update #53 |publisher=Thoreau Institute] The ancient Jewish cemetery in "Žvejai" stood in the way of the expansion. Many tombstones were destroyed in 1950 during the construction of Žalgiris Stadium; the cemetery was completely demolished in 1955 in accordance with a decree issued by local authorities in 1948. lt icon cite web |url=http://www.heritage.lt/archeologija/atl98/senam/42.htm |title=Preliminary survey in Vilnius between Rinktinės and Žvejų Streets |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Žukovskis |first=Robertas |work=Archeological Research in Lithuania (1996–1997) |publisher=Department of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture] The bodies of Vilna Gaon and several members of his immediate family were relocated, after receiving special permission from the Soviet authorities; this relocation has been the subject of historical controversy. [en icon cite journal |last=Leiman |first=Shnayer Z. |year=1998 |month=winter |title=Who is buried in Vlina Gaon's tomb? |journal=Jewish Action |volume=59 |issue=2 |url=http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5759winter/leiman.htm |accessdate=2006-12-16] The cemetery was the subject of an archaeological survey in the late 1990s. A memorial stone was placed in the southeastern portion of the former cemetery with an inscription in Yiddish and Lithuanian, stating that the cemetery was established there in 1478 (this dating is disputed).

An incident in Žirmūnai's history that has been difficult to reconstruct occurred in 1975, when a pontoon bridge across the River Neris, [lt icon cite web |url=http://community.livejournal.com/lost_vilnius/21836.html |title=Lost Vilnius: The infamous pontoon bridge, 1960 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |first=Aloyzas |last=Neniškis |date=2006-03-13 |format=JPG |publisher=Szhaman] that was customarily set up from spring to autumn, collapsed due to the weight of a crowd returning from a concert in the Palace of Concerts and Sports. It was rumoured that the bridge supports were not fully connected at the time. There were witnessed fatalities involving drownings and crushing by the bridge structures. Public discussion of the disaster was restricted and the number of casualties remains unknown. The pontoon bridge was never re–erected at the site; the Mindaugas Bridge now serves this need.Tuskulėnai Manor had been nationalised in 1940 and was later used as KGB officers' apartments and as a kindergarten. During excavations that took place between 1994 and 1996 in its territory, the remains of 706 bodies were found; 40 were identified. [lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=1106408 |title=Peace Park to be established in Vilnius by 2007 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2002-06-13 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Baltic News Service ] The area had been used to hide the bodies of Lithuanian residents–mostly resistance fighters against the Soviet occupation, Nazi collaborators and Armia Krajowa soldiers – who had been executed by the NKGB and MGB in the Vilnius' KGB Palace between 1944 and 1947. The remains from the mass grave were placed in a columbarium built underground, beneath an artificial hill, and consecrated in 2004.

In 2001, workers laying telephone line in "Šiaurės miestelis", near the former garrison, discovered a mass grave that was found to contain the bodies of about 2,000 soldiers – the remnants of Napoleon's Grande Armée as it retreated from Moscow. In December 1812, temperatures in Vilnius had sunk to −30°C, and the frozen ground made proper burials impossible. The Grande Armée at that time comprised French, Portuguese, Italians, Germans, Austrians, Spaniards, and Croats, as well as Lithuanians and Poles. en icon cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,785067,00.html |title=After 190 years the bones of Boney's army are unearthed in a mass grave in Lithuania |accessdate=2006-12-16 |first=Ian |last=Traynor |date=2002-09-03 |publisher=The Guardian] The bones have been intensively studied by forensic pathologists; DNA evidence showed that many of the deaths were caused by typhus. [ en icon cite web |url=http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/525.htm |title=Napoleon's plagued retreat |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Edelman |first=Alex |publisher=CNRS International Magazine] Most of the remains were re–interred in Antakalnis Cemetery. Other findings included buttons stamped with Napoleon’s image, crucifixes, wedding rings, belt buckles, boots and pieces of French uniforms. Footage from the location has been used in the TV series "Moments in Time" produced by Discovery Channel [ en icon cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476921/ |title="Moments in Time" (2003) |accessdate=2006-12-16|publisher=Internet Movie Database] and "Meet the Ancestors" [ en icon cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0273370/ |title= "Meet the Ancestors" (1998) |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Internet Movie Database] by BBC. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=1168257 |title=BBC and Discovery wish to shoot the grave-site of the Napoleon's army soldiers |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2002-07-06 |publisher=Delfi.lt] The archaeological surveys were partially sponsored by the producers. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=1361972 |title=New secrets revealed to scientists by the grave-site of Napoleon's soldiers |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2002-09-13 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Baltic News Service]

The Red Army military base in Žirmūnai was abandoned in 1992, a few years after Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union; a grace period was granted in order to ensure the orderly resettlement of the soldiers and their families.

21st century

Due to the Soviet principles of urban planning, Žirmūnai, according to the 2001 census data, was among the three Vilnius elderates (the other two being Karoliniškės and Viršuliškės) with the lowest percentage of single–family housing in the city (0.1 percent). Of the remaining residents, 0.4 percent owned a share of individual housing, 0.7 percent lived in hostels, and almost 99 percent lived in apartments. [en icon cite web |url=http://www.stat.gov.lt/puslapiai/vasv/pdf/vs/05.pdf |title=Population |accessdate=2007-03-09 |publisher=Statistikos departamentas prie Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybės, 2005] The scarcity of buildable lots means that the number of single–family dwellings is not likely to increase; a reverse process is taking place: old wooden houses are being demolished, making room for new residential and commercial constructions. As of 2007, there were only a few modern single–family houses in Žirmūnai.

Žirmūnai's housing, especially in its central sections, is in need of extensive renovation, due to wear and tear of its low or medium–quality construction. A program to renew old apartment buildings (including the installation of better insulation) is ongoing in Vilnius, partially assisted by the Vilnius City Municipality; the first finished renovation project–a completely renewed 60–apartment building built in 1965–is located in Žirmūnai. [ en icon cite web |url=http://www.renovacija.lt/en.php/sample_project/209 |title=The Sample Project of Complex Building Renovation |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006-03-23 |work=Renew the House – Renew the City (Vilnius City Municipality Programme) |publisher=Vilnius City Heating Company] The area is, in some ways, analogous to public housing districts in Chicago and London; although much of the housing was quickly and inexpensively erected in the 1960s, its proximity to downtown Vilnius, its transportation infrastructure, and its access to the River Neris account for its popularity. The principles of Soviet urban planning that led to its growth have converged with the modern concept of "Smart growth".

The "Šiaurės miestelis" section of Žirmūnai is growing rapidly and in 2007 was one of Vilnius' most sought–after residential and commercial areas.

Many of the military structures that were built in the late 19th century in "Šiaurės miestelis" have been preserved and restored. Meanwhile, much of the construction that was not deemed to be of permanent value, erected during the Soviet times, has been demolished, leaving room for new streets and housing. The combination of military heritage sites and newer construction is a distinctive feature of "Šiaurės miestelis".

Reflecting its military history, numerous street names in and around "Šiaurės miestelis" allude to military concepts, including "Kareivių" ("Soldiers"), "Lakūnų" ("Pilots"), "Žygio" ("March"), "Apkasų" ("Trenches"), "Ulonų" ("Light Cavalry"). The new streets built in "Šiaurės miestelis" during the beginning of the 21st century were named for prominent figures in Lithuanian military history: Povilas Lukšys, Lithuanian army volunteer, the first to perish in the Independence Wars in 1919 with the Bolshevik forces, as well as Kazys Ladyga, Silvestras Žukauskas, Jonas Galvydis-Bikauskas, Vladas Nagevičius, and Jurgis Kubilius, prominent officers of the inter-war Lithuanian Army, whose histories are not directly related to the area. On the contrary, these personalities distinguished themselves by opposing the Bolshevik and Polish armies that were historically garrisoned in "Šiaurės miestelis". The naming was suggested by the Ministry of Defence. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.kam.lt/index.php/lt/94966/ |title=History |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Ministry of Defence] There are more streets not far from "Šiaurės miestelis" that bear military-themed names: "Raitininkų" ("Cavalrymen"), "Žvalgų" ("Scouts") and "Rinktinės" ("Platoon").

Education

The educational institutions in Žirmūnai include three secondary schools, all Lithuanian–language. Tuskulėnai Secondary School ( _lt. Tuskulėnų vidurinė mokykla, formerly Vilnius' Secondary School No. 31) had 1,463 students in 2006, which made it the fifth largest school in Vilnius. The school features advanced classes in the visual arts. St. Christopher's Gymnasium ( _lt. Šv. Kristoforo gimnazija, formerly Vilnius' Secondary School No. 9) was the eighth largest in Vilnius with 1,391 students in 2006. Žirmūnai Gymnasium ( _lt. Žirmūnų gimnazija, formerly Vilnius Secondary School No. 7) had 800 students in 2006. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.smm.lt/svietimo_bukle/docs/statistika/MK_lesos_atskiroms_mokykloms_2006.xls |title=Funds allocation to individual schools in 2006 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |year=2006 |format=XLS |publisher=Ministry of Education and Science] The school was granted the title "Gymnasium" in 2000; it is home to the acclaimed brass band "Septima", established in 1966. [lt icon cite web |url=http://septima.dtiltas.lt/ |title=Septima |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Septima]

Three elementary schools are located in Žirmūnai: Antanas Vivulskis, Emilija Pliaterytė, and Kalvarijos ("Cavalry"). Šarūnas Marčiulionis Basketball School and Vilnius Sports School offer physical education. The Vilnius School of Radioelectronics and Precision Mechanics (Lithuanian: "Vilniaus radioelektronikos ir tiksliosios mechanikos mokykla") [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.vretmm.vilnius.lm.lt/Pradzia.htm |title=History |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Vilnius School of Radioelectronics and Precise Mechanics] was established in 1965 to prepare workers for "Vilma", a manufacturer of electrical products still operating in Žirmūnai. The Vilnius School of Tourism and Commerce (Lithuanian: "Vilniaus turizmo ir prekybos verslo mokykla") offers certificates in retailing, basic bookkeeping, hotel and restaurant services, and other business areas. Vilnius Gija Youth School serves those students who have special needs and do not succeed in traditional classroom settings. Žirmūnai also has one of the three Children's Foster Homes in Vilnius.

As of the census taken in April 2001, 26.2 percent of Žirmūnai's residents aged 10 or older possessed a bachelor's or higher degree.

Facilities

Parks and museums

Tuskulėnai Manor is Žirmūnai's oldest extant architectural structure. The manor was built in 1825, following a design by Karol Podczaszyński in the neoclassical style. It consists of the principal building (the palace), an "officina" (storage house), and several adjacent buildings, including a small eclectic chapel of St. Theresa located about 100 metres south of the principal building. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.paveldas.vilnius.lt/objektas.php?ID=10717&nID=22524&gID=9 |title=Žirmūnų Street 1c |accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=Baltic InterSAVE (Survey of Architectural Values in the Environment) |publisher=Vilnius city municipality] The "Little White Manor", also known as the villa of Franciszek Walicki, was built in 1866 further south from the manor, acquired by Walicki in 1928, and reconstructed to serve as a summer residence. All of these structures are undergoing restoration, and will be part of the Peace Park ("Rimties parkas"), which is to be completed in 2008. The 7.5–hectare Peace Park will include the restored Tuskulėnai Manor, which will host a museum of martyrology in Lithuania in the second half of the 20th century (a branch of the Lithuanian Genocide Victims Museum), restored ponds and landscaping, as well as the columbarium.A Museum of Computing was opened in 2001 in Žirmūnai by the Lithuanian software company "Sintagma", showcasing the history of Lithuanian computing science and hardware production. It was based on a museum opened in 1985 by "Sigma", one of the leading computer manufacturers in the former Soviet Union. The museum's exhibits include EV–80, the first Soviet vacuum tube computing machine manufactured by "Sigma", a copy of the IBM 604. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.muziejai.lt/Vilnius/Kompiuterijos%20muziejus.htm |title=Lithuanian Computing Museum in Vilnius |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2004-09-24 |publisher=Museums of Lithuania]

Three of the 19 brick chapels of the Vilnius Stations of the Cross ("Vilniaus Kalvarijos"), part of Verkiai Regional Park, are located at the extreme northwestern corner of Žirmūnai, just within the elderate's border. The three chapels, symbolizing the Mount of Olives and the Gardens of Gethsemane, are found only 20 meters away from the relatively busy "Verkių" Street, and about a hundred meters downhill from a group of Soviet multi–storey apartment buildings.

The forested area along the banks of the River Neris in Žirmūnai and its walkways are a popular recreational destination for many Vilnians.

Governmental offices

As a primarily residential area, Žirmūnai hosted only 7.4% of Vilnius' public offices in 2003. Žirmūnai is the location of the Personal Identity Documents Centre of Lithuania's Ministry of the Interior which produces all of Lithuania's identity cards, passports, and driver's licenses, as well as residency permits. Issuance of residence permits is controlled by Vilnius City Migration Service, which is housed in Žirmūnai too. There are also several medicine–related institutions, such as the Ministry of Health's State Public Health Service, the Vilnius city morgue and the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the Mykolas Romeris University. The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, the Vilnius Department of the Lithuanian Labour Exchange at the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Honorary Vice–Consulate of the Kingdom of Spain, and the National Examination Center, established by the Ministry of Education to organize centralized nationwide examinations of high school graduates, all have headquarters in Žirmūnai.

ports and entertainment venues

Several notable sports facilities are located in Žirmūnai, including Žalgiris Stadium, Lithuania's largest stadium,en icon cite web |url=http://www.worldstadiums.com/europe/countries/lithuania.shtml |title=Stadiums in Lithuania |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=World Stadiums ] and Impuls Plus fitness club. Rowing practices take place on the River Neris; there is a base of operation, as well as several piers, on the Žirmūnai bank of the river. One of Lithuania's largest indoor public swimming pools was situated in Žirmūnai until the 1990s. Part of the annual international Vilnius Marathon course runs along the Žirmūnai bank of the River Neris. [en icon cite web |url=http://www.maratonas.lt/trasa_en.htm |title=Course |accessdate=2006-12-16 |year=2006 |format=JPG |publisher=International Vilnius Marathon 2006 ] The Palace of Concerts and Sports ("Koncertų ir sporto rūmai"), built in 1971 in the southernmost part of Žirmūnai in the middle of the former cemetery, is an example of Soviet Constructivism [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.paveldas.vilnius.lt/objektas.php?ID=1845&nID=22529&gID=9 |title=Žvejų Street 2|accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=Baltic InterSAVE (Survey of Architectural Values in the Environment) |publisher=Vilnius city municipality] and Brutalist architecture, remarkable for its vessel–like exterior. The Palace, once one of the architectonic icons of Soviet Vilnius, was, until the 1990s, a major venue for sporting events, especially local and international basketball matches, as well as concerts and shows. Its seating capacity is about 4,400. On 22–23 October 1988 the building hosted the statutory meeting of Sąjūdis, the Lithuanian political organization that led the struggle for Lithuanian independence; on 14–15 January 1991, a public funeral for the victims of the January Events took place at the Palace. Later in the 1990s, the building was used as a temporary shopping mall where space was leased to small entrepreneurs for business exhibitions and fairs. In the 2000s developers announced plans to build multifunctional complexes, incorporating sports, business and residential structures, that would replace Žalgiris Stadium and the Palace of Concerts and Sports; the projects have been stalled due to the inclusion of the Palace into the list "Registry of Cultural Values" in July 2006, [ lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=10036631 |title=Vilnius Palace of Sports included in the Registry of Cultural Values |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006-06-04 |publisher=Delfi.lt] and related litigation. [ lt icon cite web |url=http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=10892000 |title=Will the celebration of the European Capital of Culture take place in a pit? |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Kulvinskytė |first=Rimantė |date=2006-10-08 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Statyba ir architektūra]

The Vilnius Palace of Culture, Entertainment and Sports (an example of Soviet functionalism [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.paveldas.vilnius.lt/objektas.php?ID=10713&nID=22524&gID=9 |title=Žirmūnų Street 1e |accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=Baltic InterSAVE (Survey of Architectural Values in the Environment) |publisher=Vilnius city municipality] built in 1980 as the Palace of Culture and Sports of the Ministry of Interior), hosts several amateur art clubs (choirs in particular), and is also used for indoor sports (wrestling, martial arts, artistic gymnastics, volleyball, basketball), as well as lawn tennis, including two clay courts.

The Lietuvos Rytas Arena was the home of Lithuania's starring basketball team Lietuvos Rytas until the 2004 season, and was also used by the women's basketball team BC Teo. Along with the Vilnius Palace of Culture, Entertainment and Sports, it was used in 2006 as part of the set for "9/11: The Twin Towers", [en icon cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808138/ |title= 9/11: The Twin Towers (2006) |accessdate=2006-12-16 |publisher=Internet Movie Database] a docudrama about the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, a Dangerous Films production for BBC and Discovery Channel. [lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=8928941 |title=The New York tragedy resurrected by film makers in Vilnius |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2006-03-03 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Baltic News Service]

Southern Žirmūnai's sporting connections are reflected in the names of the streets along the Žirmūnai side of the River Neris: "Sporto" ("Sports") and "Olimpiečių" ("Olympians"). The Palace of Students' Technical Creative Work of the Republic is Lithuania's largest facility for high school students' after–school activities of a technical nature, such as model building and go-kart racing. The Grand Theater of Vilnius ("Didysis Vilniaus teatras") is a small theater (its misnomer is intentional) that is formally based in "Šiaurės miestelis"; it has no venue of its own and holds performances in other theaters. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.dvt.lt |title=The Grand Theater of Vilnius |publisher=The Grand Theater of Vilnius |accessdate=2006-12-16]

A building close to the western border of the Žirmūnai elderate, an example of Socialist historicism [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.paveldas.vilnius.lt/objektas.php?ID=4804&nID=22068&gID=9 |title=Kalvarijų Street 85 / Verkių Street 6 |accessdate=2006-12-16 |work=Baltic InterSAVE (Survey of Architectural Values in the Environment) |publisher=Vilnius city municipality] built soon after the end of World War II, was the home of the "Tėvynė" ("Motherland") Cinema until the early 1990s; it has been hosting the "New York" musical theatre and club since 2004. [lt icon cite web |url=http://www.newyorkclub.lt/main.aspx?show=about&ID=1 |title=About the theatre/club |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date= |publisher=New York Club] It is unclear whether this building will be demolished to make way for underground parking lots or saved by virtue of its inclusion into the Registry of Cultural Values. [lt icon cite web |url=http://whatson.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=11212915 |title=Soviet-time architecture confronts us with the signs of history |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Nemeikaitė |first=Sigita |date=2006-11-14 |publisher=Delfi.lt and Statyba ir architektūra ]

Commercial and industrial facilities

1,414 businesses, comprising 8.7% of all Vilnius' businesses, were headquartered in the Žirmūnai elderate in 2003.lt icon cite web |url=http://www.vilnius.lt/new/inv_verslas.php?open=280&sub_cat1=281&id=78 |title=Map of Vilnius City business development: Žirmūnai elderate |accessdate=2006-12-16 |date=2003-05-23 |work=Business News |publisher=Vilnius city municipality ] Lithuania's largest electricity distribution network operator, "Rytų skirstomieji tinklai", operates from Žirmūnai, as well as "TELE2", one of Lithuania's three mobile communications operators; "Ogmios", one of Lithuania's largest retailers and wholesalers of home appliances; and "Vilpra", Lithuania's largest dealer of heating equipment.

In 1992, the former prominent Lithuanian basketball player Šarūnas Marčiulionis and his business partners opened the "Šarūnas" Hotel in Žirmūnai. The "Banginis" and "Rimi Hypermarket", located in "Šiaurės miestelis", are among Lithuania's largest shopping centers. "Vilniaus duona" ("The Bread of Vilnius"), Lithuania's largest baking company, operates one of its bakeries in Žirmūnai.

An abundance of automotive service facilities and car dealerships are located in the elderate, including some of the Lithuania's largest Opel, SAAB, Chevrolet ("Žaibo ratas"), and Nissan ("Raitas") dealerships.

The northern part of Žirmūnai was an important part of the Lithuanian SSR's industrial sector during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The "Kuro aparatūros gamykla" (Fuel Equipment Factory) is now bankrupt; "Sigma", formerly one of the leading manufacturers of electronics and computer components in the Soviet Union, which contributed to the description of the Lithuanian SSR as "The Soviet Silicon Valley", [en icon cite web |url=http://www.etuc.org/IMG/pdf/Lithuania_Country_Dossier_final-2.pdf |title=Lithuania - Country Dossier |accessdate=2006-12-16 |last=Kurtyka |first=Michal |format=PDF |work=Study on restructuring in new Member States |publisher=Bernard Brunhes Polska |pages=] continues to operate at a minimum level; and "Vilma" remains Lithuania's largest manufacturer of electrical products.

Transportation

Žirmūnai is well–served by Vilnius' bus and trolleybus transportation network. One of Vilnius' trolleybus hubs is located in the northernmost part of Žirmūnai elderate, and "Vilniaus Autobusai", Vilnius' main bus operator, is headquartered and has its main depot in Žirmūnai. Žirmūnai is linked to the elderate of Antakalnis by three bridges over the River Neris: Valakupiai Bridge, the longest bridge in Vilnius, built in 1972; the "Šilas" Bridge, built in 1999, and Žirmūnai Bridge, built in 1965. The Mindaugas Bridge was built in 2003 to link Žirmūnai with Vilnius' Old Town. Passenger ferry transport on the Neris was active until the 1990s, but is now limited to occasional chartered sightseeing tours from the Mindaugas Bridge to Valakupiai in summer.For some time in the first half of the 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway traversed Žirmūnai following the approximate course of the modern "Minties" Street; it crossed over the River Neris on a bridge located near the modern "Šilas" Bridge, as can be seen in the 1942 map of Vilnius.

A problem of transportation experienced in Žirmūnai is traffic jams, that occur during the working hours due to the overload of streets. The street network in the district was mainly designed in the Soviet era and is virtually unsuitable for the constantly increasing modern traffic needs.Fact|date=July 2007

Notes and references

External links

*en icon Vilnius Regional Statistical Office. [http://www.stat.gov.lt/puslapiai/vasv/statistics.html Statistics on Žirmūnai and other Vilnius elderates]
*lt icon Vilnius City Municipality. [http://www.vilnius.lt/seniunijos/img/0127_1200.gifMap of Žirmūnai elderate (1:12,000) in 2004]
*en icon Google Maps. [http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&t=k&om=1&z=13&ll=54.708855,25.292244&spn=0.047108,0.114326 Žirmūnai imagery of year 2002 or early 2003]
*en icon Vilnius City Municipality. [http://www.vilnius.lt/newvilniusweb/index.php/121/?mid={en;3;81} Žirmūnai elderate contact information]

ee also

* History of Vilnius
* History of Lithuania
* History of Poland


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