Visaginas is the youngest city in Lithuania located in the most Eastern corner of the country. It was built as a town for workers who were building one of the most powerful nuclear power plants in the world, called Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) which had the biggest nuclear reactor in the world which is included into Guiness record book. There live more than 28 000 inhabitants in the territory of almost 9 sq. km.
The history of the city is funnily short in comparison with another biggest cities in Lithuania. Before beginning building works of the Ignalina NPP in 1975, in the territory where Visaginas city is now located there were only a few thin villages located around beautiful Visaginas lake. Builders of the power station brought a huge stone alongside the first blocks of flats here erected in 1975 August the 10th. This boulder which is of a shape a bit such like an outline of Lithuania was declared to be an angular stone of the city. That day is reputed a birthday of Visaginas city.
Visaginas was built according to a model of butterfly wings. By the way, the formed butterfly has only 3 wings as the forth part of the town was not expanded because building works of the 4th reactor of Ignalina NPP were stopped. Visaginas was designed in a way which let to create a well developed cultural, educational and everyday life infrastructure for residents of the city. In addition to this, local natural environments were preserved as much as it was possible. So Visaginas is like a city unexpectedly appeared among pine forests and beautiful lakes. During years of Soviet occupation, Visaginas was called Sniečkus in honor of one Soviet cadre, but when Lithuanian got back its` independence , Visaginas was named the same like a local former village and a nearby lake. The most possible strain of derivation of its` name might be Lithuanian words “visi” (everybody) “ginasi” (struggle) as according to a legend, in Visaginas lake there used to populate many snakes. Visaginas got city rights in 1995. In 2009 the Ignalina NPP was shut down. The second and the last working reactor was stoped in 2009 December 31st 10:54 PM. It is well known that Visaginas is a city – satellite so closing down the Ignalina NPP cause a risk for Visaginas to become a ghost city as Ignalina NPP was the largest local company and the only one mean of support for 25% of local inhabitants. However, plans to build new, modern and much safer Ignalina NPP were certified despite the fact that many greens protested against these plans. In 2011 preparation works should be finished and the new Ignalina NPP should begin producing electricity in 2018.
Visaginas town is one of the most multinational ones in Lithuania. Most of local inhabitants are Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tartary, Poles and Lithuanians. What is more, the mix of local religions is also impressive. There live Orthodox, Catholics, Atheists and even Muslims. The variety here was formed because of necessity to bring into one place various well qualified specialists when building the Ignalina NPP. The dominating language there is Russian. Here even documents and printings are often written in Russian. Nowadays already it is pretty difficult to find anyone who do not understand Lithuanian there, but still, there only 16% of inhabitants speak Lithuanian.
Visaginas is a very clean and green city. There are no 2 the same buildings. There are playgrounds, stadiums, grasslands, pines and waters stretching all around the city. Forests are full of mushrooms and berries, lakes are rich in fish. Local people are very sporty, artistic and well educated as Visaginas has everything what is important for modern up to date life. There is a very famous music school, students of which are very talented musicians, winning many prizes in national and international contests. In addition, local people are very interested in sports. The most popular is acrobatics. Local sportsmen are champions of Europe and World championships. Visaginas is also famous for its` annual festival called “Visaginas country”. The festival attracts country music lovers from all over Lithuania and foreign countries.
Visaginas was always in a shadow of nuclear power. Considering the catastrophe in Chornobyl in 1986 April, it looks quite dangerous to live and work facing a terrible risk of radiation poisoning. Luckily, nothing similar ever happened there. But still Visaginas reminds a little paradise on the edge of the abyss.
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