Our planet needs love. With countries out to destroy each other with war and human intolerance at an all-time high, we need unity and healing more than ever. To move one step ahead towards that hope, what can be better than a bridge to a united planet? Lithuania and Poland have shown the world a surreal, futuristic way to encourage friendship and foster oneness. They have built a magic portal that lets people see each other in real-time, making the physical distance between the two places disappear altogether. It is nothing short of magic and the kind that can make the world a better place. To unravel the whole story, let us travel through this magic portal and find out how these two countries managed to create history in the most beautiful way possible.
The portal lets people from Vilnius in Lithuania and Lublin in Poland see each other without the need to travel.
It is shaped like a circle that symbolizes the wheel of time. In Vilnius, one of the oldest cities in Lithuania, the portal stands right outside the train station. In Lublin, it is located on Plac Litewski. They are roughly 375 miles away from each other. But why these cities precisely? Though the fact that these two cities chose to build and host this portal is a coincidence, it is an incredible one.
This is because the union of Lublin was signed on July 1, 1569, between Poland and Lithuania in that very city. Resonating the feeling of unity and friendship between the two countries, that union created a single state called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which became one of the largest countries in Europe at that time. Therefore, if portals become a trend, these two are the perfect trendsetters to send out the message of unity to the world.
The spheric portal took five years to build and broadcast in real-time, letting people communicate between the two cities.
Remember Stargate? The sci-fi movie with a ring-shaped device that lets you travel into a parallel portal anywhere in the universe? This sphere gives you a similar feeling of looking into another dimension – a window to another place. Both the portals have screens and cameras for broadcasting live. It captures and shows people in their full, one-to-one scale, presenting them just as they are in their environment.
Benediktas Gylys, the President of the Benediktas Gylys Foundation, is the brainchild behind the idea of the portal. The portal was partly funded by the government of Vilnius to promote tourism, as well as the Benediktas Gylys Foundation, after winning a competition aiming to promote tourism in the Lithuanian capital city. Gylys believes that humanity is in trouble not because countries lack thinkers, scientists, creators, activists, or knowledge. It is because of alienation, lack of empathy, and narrowness of the mind that make us unable to think beyond national boundaries. To him, this portal is an “invitation to rise above the illusion of us and them.”
Building the portal took five years to complete after a lot of rigorous testing to fit the complex design into a simple frame. These twin portals are three meters wide and made with concrete, stainless steel, and tempered glass, weighing eleven tons. This was made possible by the people at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Creativity & Innovation Centre LinkMenų fabrikas.
The idea behind the portal is to remind people how alike we, as a human race, are and, in the process, create a united planet.
This portal is an invitation to rise above prejudices. It is a beautiful feeling when you realize that people far away, in other countries, other cultures, are not that different from us. That itself gives a feeling of unity in all its simplicity. The portal allows people to see each other without words. It has no sound and lets people communicate through the most universal language known to man – body language. People wave, smile, make hearts and manage to get their ideas across. There have also been reports of someone sharing a phone number by writing it on a piece of paper. So, you get the idea! Division is something humans create by themselves. It is high time we broke it. The authorities have decided that this portal would just be visual for now. But if the need arises, there can be special occasions when audio can be installed.
The official website of the portal has a beautiful message. It talks about how we limit ourselves to only those near us who speak the same language. That gives us comfort and a sense of stability. But that also awakens insecurities towards those outside our known boundaries and gives us a perfect excuse to be careless about the world that belongs to all of us. This portal aims to transcend that boundary, push people out of their comfort zones, and make them see the world with new eyes.
The portal was installed during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were feeling isolated and cut off from the rest of the world.
This was not the plan, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time. People were stuck in their homes, in their cities, unable to travel. This created a deep sense of isolation and social disconnect. The creators at Vilnius Tech worked on the project for five years and completed it around the time of the pandemic. But they knew the lockdown was the best time to introduce it to the socially starved public. The portal immediately gave them a sense of belonging to the rest of the world by being able to connect with people who were going through the same feeling of isolation united them. Installed on 26th May 2021, this sci-fi-looking window to another world became an instant sensation in both the cities and the rest of the world.
There will be more portals connecting more cities in the future.
Imagine waking up to a portal in your city that connects you to a different country every day! Wouldn’t it be amazing to travel and connect with others like that? You can look through the portal and connect with strangers who will be looking right back at you. Krzysztof Stanowski, the Director of the International Cooperation Centre says that participating in the project allowed them to remember and stress the historical role of cities in building a space of freedom and tolerance. No wonder other countries want to follow. In the future, there are plans to build portals connecting Vilnius to Reykjavik and London. In fact, Poland and Lithuania are inviting cities around the world to become a part of history by participating in building more portals.
Now tell me, if you want a portal in your country, which country would you like to connect to?
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