In 2023, the entire world will be celebrating the capital’s birthday. UNESCO has included Vilnius’ anniversary among the 67 dates to be commemorated over the next two years.
Other dates celebrated by UNESCO include the 550th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus (Poland), the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustave Eiffel (France), the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maria Callas (Greece), and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy). Vilnius’ application was backed by letters of support from the National Commissions for UNESCO in Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Latvia.
The city’s 700th anniversary is now more than just a celebration for Lithuania – it is a celebration for the entire world. Residents of Vilnius and guests are already preparing for the city’s upcoming birthday – a multifaceted programme is being developed, which includes various initiatives in fields such as professional art, popular culture and education, to name a few. The anniversary events aim to bring communities together, create on-going initiatives, promote the active exchange of knowledge, and cultivate a festive mood in Lithuania and elsewhere. The 700th birthday events have already begun and are scheduled to culminate in 2023.
“This recognition is symbolically important and serves as proof that we will have an excellent opportunity to draw the eyes of the world to what Vilnius is like and how it knows how to celebrate. And we will do just that with an amazing programme to celebrate Vilnius’ anniversary,” said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.
Vilnius submitted its application to UNESCO in 2020, in cooperation with Dr Marija Drėmaitė, a professor at Vilnius University’s Faculty of History and the Secretariat of the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO. The application focused on presenting Vilnius as a tolerant, multicultural and multi-denominational city.
The Lithuanian capital is actively preparing for its 700th birthday with the hope that the next two years will encourage both locals and guests to celebrate Vilnius’ rich history and pave the way for an open future for the capital. It also aims to create a stronger emotional connection with the capital for all Lithuanians, actualise Vilnius’ rich heritage and strengthen historical traditions while increasing Vilnius’ visibility worldwide.
“The decision to apply to be included on the list of anniversaries celebrated by UNESCO in 2022-2023 was made to spread the word about Vilnius’ upcoming 700th anniversary worldwide. Our goal is to reveal the meaningful history of our city and its unique contemporary traits. Vilnius was built by its residents, who are distinguished by their work ethic, creativity and tolerance. The status granted and the city’s upcoming anniversary allow us to present Vilnius to the general public and encourage the people of Vilnius to represent their city responsibly in different spheres of life and activity,” says Vilnius Deputy Mayor Edita Tamošiūnaitė.
The UNESCO anniversary status gives Vilnius the right to use the logo specially created for UNESCO anniversaries for all its 700th anniversary events. Vilnius will also have an opportunity to host an event at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
“UNESCO commemorations highlight these anniversaries and important dates that convey the agency’s long-standing values and thus bring them to the attention of the entire world. In this context, Vilnius’ 700th anniversary is based on the values set out in Gediminas’ letters, which are still relevant today – tolerance, multiculturalism and creativity. I want to thank Prof Rimvydas Petrauskas, who advised us in preparing this application, as well as the entire Vilnius University Faculty of History, which studies the history of Vilnius in a broad, diverse and creative way,” says Dr Marija Drėmaitė.