Vilnius is home to some 120 nationalities, and many have played a significant role in Lithuania's history. Recently, Vilnius has been celebrating this diversity of nationalities with the installation of multicultural street signs. These multicultural signs are written in the language of the ethnicity that is referred to in the sign. For example, Vokeiciu gatve (German Street) is written in German as Deutsche Strake with a decorative symbol next to the name.
The first sign was installed on Iceland Street (Islandija gatve) because Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuania as independent in 1991. Another sign was installed on Totoriu g. (Tartar Street) at the intersection with Gedimino pr. in the old town to celebrate 600 years of Tartars in Lithuania. The sign installations are celebrated with a visit from Vilnius' mayor, and in some cases, a small celebration of folk songs.
Now, not all have accepted these multicultural signs, and within the first few days, the street sign on Rusu g. (Russia Street) was vandalized, but was quickly cleaned up by the city government. There is also currently a lawsuit pending regarding the (ridiculous, in my opinion) belief that these signs may cause racism. However, the municipal government insists that the signs are decorative and meant to celebrate Lithuania's heritage.
Hopefully the Vilnius municipal government will be able to continue this interesting celebration of Lithuania's long history.
Where to find these signs:
Feel free to read more on these press releases: Warsaw Street; Totoriu g.
What do you think about multicultural signs? Do you think they instigate racism and hatred or rather, celebrate a diverse city?