In this drab city 55 miles west of Vilnius, there are few heritage sites as mysterious and lovely looking as the Seventh Fort.read more
This 18-acre red-brick bunker complex, which dates to 1882, features massive underground passages that connect its halls and chambers. Above ground, the hilltop fortress is carpeted with lush grass and flowers whose yellow blooms attract bees and songbirds along with families who come here to frolic in the brief Baltic summer.
It’s also a popular venue for graduation parties and wedding receptions, complete with buffets and barbecues, as well as summer camps for children who enjoy the elaborate treasure hunts around the premises.
Most of the visitors are unaware that they are playing, dining and celebrating at a former concentration camp.
In 1941, thousands of Jews were imprisoned, starved and finally massacred by Lithuanian Nazi collaborators at the Seventh Fort in what was then the largest mass killing in the country’s history. The complex is believed to be the first concentration camp located on territory that Nazi Germany conquered following its eastward invasion.