Community capacity building programme

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Main actors

Local Government

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 2001

The Community capacity building programme raises awareness among local citizens about the heritage value of private buildings and public spaces located in the Old Town and supports private owners to maintain and renovate their properties. Through the programme, private property owners can get financial support for the upgrade of their property amounting to up to 50% of the costs for roof renovation, street facades and building surroundings and up to 40% of the costs for yard facades and landscaping.


Originally published by Eurocities – Cultural Heritage In Action: LINK

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Vilnius, Lithuania

Size and population development
The most recent estimates recorded by the Municipality in 2015 show the official population of Vilnius is 542,664 with a population of 1,392 people per km2. Vilnius’ population has risen and fallen multiple times, destruction and fatalities during wars have led to sharp declines, while an influx of refugees and student migration have led to increases. In the early 2000s, Vilnius experienced slight declines in its population, however, since 2013, the city has seen population increases of around 1%, indicating that the city may continue to see slow growth in the coming decade.

Population composition
At the time of the 2011 census, there were 128 different ethnicities recorded. This makes it the most diverse city in the country. The census found that 63.6% of the population is Lithuanian, 16.5% are Polish, 12% are Russian, and 8.6% were categorized as “other.” 49% of people who completed the census identified at Roman Catholic, 8.93% as Eastern Orthodox, 23.66% as no response/none/other and less than 1% each for Old Believers, Evangelical Lutheran, Evangelical Reformed, Sunni Muslim, Jewish, Greek Catholic and Karaites.

Main functions
Vilnius is the capital and largest city of Lithuania and the second largest city of the Baltic States. It is situated in south-eastern Lithuania at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris Rivers and lies 312 km from the Baltic Sea and Klaipeda, the chief Lithuanian seaport. Vilnius covers an area of 402 square kilometres. Buildings occupy 29.1% of the city; green spaces occupy 68.8%; and waters occupy 2.1%. The city is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Main industries / business
Vilnius is an important industrial centre, producing machine tools, agricultural machinery, electronic calculators and other electrical and electronic apparatus, textiles, clothing, and foodstuffs. More recently the city has become known for its growing renewable energies and biotechnologies sectors.

Sources for city budget
The City of Vilnius draws its budget for public expenditure largely from taxes, fees, fines and operating revenues.

Political structure
Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania and the Vilnius District Municipality. The city is governed Vilnius City Municipality which was established in 1995. A 51-member council is elected to four-year terms; the candidates are nominated by registered political parties. As of the 2011 elections, independent candidates also were permitted. Commencing in 2015, mayors are now elected by the residents, prior to this, they were elected by the council. ________________________________________

Administrative structure
Vilnius City Municipality is one of 60 municipalities of Lithuania and includes the nearby town of Grigiškės, three villages, and some rural areas.

The Old Town of Vilnius has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. Despite invasions and partial destructions since the 17th century, it has preserved an impressive complex of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical buildings, as well as its medieval layout.

The Vilnius Old Town Renewal Agency, set by the municipality of Vilnius, initiated the Community capacity building programme in 2001 as part of the old town revitalisation programme adopted in 1998.


1. As part of the launch of the Vilnius Old Town Revitalisation Programme in 1998, the city published some information material:

  • Brochures on the “Preservation of the authentic elements of the built fabric of Vilnius Old Town” and “How to take part in the Vilnius Old Town Revitalisation Programme”
  • Investors and conservation guidelines

2. In 2006, the Agency started the Vilnius wooden architecture preservation strategy as part of, and under the same conditions as the Community Capacity Building programme, to bring specific support to owners of buildings made of wood.

3. As part of the Community capacity building programme, the Agency organised public consultations and debates about the renewal of public spaces in the Old Town – the most important ones having been for the renewal of St. Annes Square and Vokieciu Street in 2019 - 2021.

4. The Community capacity building programme is complementary to other actions initiated by the Agency, including the Vilnius traditional city crafts programme, which promotes, revitalizes and develops historic craftsmanship, notably through training programmes.

The municipality of Vilnius allocated a budget of € 6.3 million to the Historic centre community development programme for the period 2015-2021.

In 2021, the operational budget of the Agency was € 155,000, and the budget of the Community capacity building programme was € 840,000.

The Agency and the Department for cultural heritage protection of the municipality of Vilnius oversee the implementation of the Community capacity building programme.

At the Agency, three employees are responsible for liaising with property owners, making agreements and contracts with them, and coordinating financial support.

The renovation and maintenance works are supervised by the Agency and the Municipal unit for housing administration and carried out by private enterprises.


During the first phase of the programme (2001- 2008), 60 renovation works were carried out.

During the second phase of the project (2015- 2021), 932 balconies were renovated in 79 houses, as well as 20 roofs and 11 facades. Six houses were completely retrofitted.

Surveys among property owners show that the programme is highly valued by those who have benefited from it.

The renovation of residential houses, characteristic of the Old Town of Vilnius, requires financial, human resources and craft skills. A large part of this built heritage belongs to private owners, who may not be aware of the heritage value of their property or the financial means to maintain them. How to help private owners maintain and enhance their properties?


Lessons learned:

Initiate a dialogue with property owners to explain the principles of sustainable heritage conservation and encourage them to better understand the heritage values of their property.

  • The upgrade of historic houses should preferably start by retrofitting the roof and the basement.
  • Pay careful attention to the authentic details of the house (doors, windows, elements of architectural decor).

On the Map

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Want to know more about this project?

Jurate Raugaliene
Vilnius, Lithuania

Jurate Raugaliene

Institution | Senior specialist for projects ad programs

Jakki Mann
Melbourne , Australia

Jakki Mann

Individual | Content Curator

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