HISTORY

The old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery in Vilnius in the territory of Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports and in the surrounding area operated in the 16th century (maybe even from the end of the 15th  century) until 1831.

Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (the Vilna Gaon) (1720-1797), a Jewish scholar, one of the most famous interpreters of the Talmud was buried in this cemetery. In 1948, the remains of the Vilna Gaon and his relatives were moved to the New Jewish Cemetery (in Olandų Street). In 1963 the remains were transferred to the Jewish Cemetery in Sudervė street. The territory of the cemetery in Šnipiškės had been changing gradually as Jews acquired the surrounding plots of lands, and at the same time took over the payment of land taxes that were previously paid by the former land users.

The cemetery was merged to form a single plot of land. The cemetery was the largest by its area (4.3 ha) at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. All land of the territory of the cemetery (both received and acquired) was owned by the state. In other words, it belonged to the jurisdiction of Vilnius Castle and Eiguva. In 1817, the administration of tsarist Russia decided to close the Jewish cemetery. The decision was implemented in 1831 when the construction of the fortress began. These construction works covered about a quarter of the territory of the cemetery, and the remaining territory was left to serve as a field for firing. The authorities of the Russian Empire paid compensation to everyone whose land and buildings were expropriated for the construction of the fortress, regardless of whether that land was public or private.

In 1935, this cemetery was declared a museum value by the Polish administration. After the World War II, the cemetery was completely destroyed by the Soviet authorities, which built a swimming pool and the Palace of Concerts and Sports in the territory of the cemetery and the surrounding area.

Some burials, which were not destroyed during the construction of the fortress, the Palace of Concerts and Sports and various underground routing, have survived to the present day, and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, together with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, makes efforts to properly manage and preserve this territory. The Government of the Republic of Lithuania has recognised the site of the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery in Vilnius as the area protected by the state.


© VĮ Turto bankas, 2017

Kęstučio g. 45, LT-08124
Vilnius, Lithuania
Phone (+370 5) 278 0900
Fax (+370 5) 275 1155

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Vilnius, Lithuania
Phone (+370 5) 268 4999

Email: vkc@turtas.lt
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