Most people probably wouldn’t associate the word "fun" with former Communist Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin, but Lithuanians apparently do.
Grutas Park, also known as “Stalinworld, Stalin’s World and Stalinland” is somewhat of a … “Communist Disnelyand” that offers guests a mini-zoo, playground, museum and restaurant all among Soviet themed sculptures and statues, including several in the likeness of Stalin himself. The two-mile park is even landscaped in the style of a mock gulag, or labor/detention camp.
Oddly enough, the park’s disturbing theme has been a moderate success as it sees nearly 200,000 visitors annually, The Huffington Post reports.
Just as you can run into Mickey Mouse and Snow White at Disneyland, you can also catch Stalin and Vladimir Lenin look-alikes at Grutas Park on certain days — although, we aren't sure how exciting that is?
Grutas Park is more than just a place for recreation; however, the park is used as a learning tool to teach guests about the volatile history of Stalin’s reign.
The park aims to “provide an opportunity for Lithuanian people, visitors coming to our country, as well as future generations to see the naked Soviet ideology which suppressed and hurt the spirit of our nation for decades,” according to the Grutas website.
Since the park’s founding in 2001, it has faced harsh criticisms for being disrespectful to the victims who suffered during the communist regimes, but the park’s creators maintain that its educational value trumps the negative perspectives.
Grutos Parkas was created by a Lithuanian mushroom tycoon and champion wrestler who discovered that in the early 2000s many of the Soviet era statues which hadn't been demolished ended up in junkyards. He came up with the idea to build a park to conserve this art and have a place for people to come to learn about this history in a region eager to forget it. The park has met a lot of opposition as many don't fondly remember this Soviet occupation. Yet the park thrives. The two acre Grutos Parkas also known as Stalin World is in all accounts a unique theme park. Most of the tourists are Lithuanian and I was surprised to find many interacting and posing with the statues of their recent oppressive past- some more comically than others. This Lennin bust seemed to be a favorite of young children, and I saw a number of kids climbing all over it. If you are interested in dark history, strange theme parks, the Soviet Union or the tourist gaze this is not to be missed. These are only statues which were erected within Lithuania so the sheer quantity is surprising. It's located in a forest surrounded by recreated Soviet watch towers, love it or hate it this place is certainly a colorful experience. Also it's interesting to note in Stalin World there are only two Stalin statues while there are at least twenty Lenins.. #litrail #grutos #park #green #lennin #soviet #history #grutosparkas #instagramresidency #travelgram #travel #lifeabroad #outdoors
Banner Photo Credit: Wikimedia/ Author: Adriao