Lithuania and Poland have built a “portal” connecting two of their cities and people love it.

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Society is changing and we have come a long way since slavery and women’s suffrage. But we still have a long way to go: to stop discriminating against people who are different, to accept those who think, dress and speak differently from us.

The division between people is an old problem, but it needs modern solutions. The Internet is now at the center of a “portal” opened in two European cities, Vilnius and Lublin, which has been built with the specific aim of reducing the distance between them and us. Not only is the importance of this project amazing, but it also looks so cool and futuristic.

The city of Vilnius in Lithuania and the city of Lublin in Poland now are connected by a portal in which they can see each other

The portal has a circular shape symbolizing the wheel of time. In science fiction, it represents space and time, which refers to the circle being a portal. This virtual bridge between Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and Lublin, one of the oldest cities in Poland, is the first of its kind. In Vilnius, the portal is located next to the Vilnius train station. In Lublin, it is located on Plac Litewski.

These two cities have a historical link, as on July 1, 1569, the Union of Lublin was signed between Poland and Lithuania in the same city. This union created a single state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest countries in Europe at the time. Bored Panda contacted the PORTAL team and asked if this was planned. Apparently, it was an unexpected coincidence. The team was looking for different cities abroad to join this project and circumstances led to Lublin being chosen. It is really symbolic that these two cities will be the ones to spread the message of the project, which is to be united and not divided.

This circle with a screen that looks like a portal to another dimension actually lets you see people in the other city and wave at them

Both “portals” have screens and cameras to broadcast live to the other city. The view seen on the screen is designed to resemble what astronauts see when they look at the world below.

It’s called the “panoramic effect,” and astronauts experience it when they see the Earth in space, so small, so fragile in this big world.

Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first person from the United Arab Emirates in space, said, “It’s amazing how space brings everyone together. No matter what country you come from, no matter what religion or background you come from, it brings everyone together…… Our goal is one: it’s about humanity.”

The portal is currently silent, as it would be technically difficult to have sound 24 hours a day, but it is possible and will be made for special events.

Despite this, the creators of the project believe that people will find a way to communicate. They have noticed that people wave, blow kisses or do push-ups, so they participate anyway.

The team told us that “it seems that with physical measures like the GATE, internal psychological barriers disappear and people engage in the action in front of the gate with enthusiasm and are friendly to others. Most of them don’t need encouragement and approach the gate with curiosity, or maybe they just need a human connection during this pandemic.” They think it would be difficult to strike up a conversation with complete strangers on the street and it seems that the gate makes people more relaxed.

The message behind the PORTAL project is to make people forget about the division between us and them and just see our planet united

The project’s main purpose is to connect people. On the official website, they say “Surrounding ourselves with only those who are near and speak the same language gives us comfort and a sense of stability. It also limits the world perspective to the narrow inner circle of ours. Slowly it becomes a perfect space to awaken insecurities towards those outside it and a perfect excuse to be careless about the world that belongs to them. Every day there is less room left for dialogue, empathy, and compassion, for feeling and being united in our home—a tiny spaceship Earth rapidly decaying due to too many of them, and too little of us. It is so easy to believe we are each a wave and forget we are also the ocean. Let‘s transcend this sense of separation and be the pioneers of unity.”

It almost seems like we’re welcoming aliens to Earth, but sometimes we do treat people like they are not from this planet and don’t deserve being here. The person behind the idea, Benediktas Gylys, says that many of the potentially deadly challenges humanity is facing, such as polarization and climate change, were caused by a lack of understanding of others and the world at large. So the PORTAL should unite people and is an invitation to rise above the illusion of division that we created ourselves.

This cool idea was shared on Reddit and the post got 140k likes in less than 24 hours

Although it’s not a portal like the ones you see in movies or read about in books, it’s still the closest thing to teleportation and it’s great to be able to communicate with people down the street who are hundreds of miles away.

It caught the attention of the editors, as the post dedicated to it got 140,000 upvotes in less than a day. People joked about the stargate and how if you go through it, you end up in Poland. People seemed to like the idea, but others shared that something similar had been done where they live, but that didn’t last long as people started abusing the portal.

The project had its challenges: “First, it was a challenge to come up with a design for the GATE that would be minimal and simple, while still being able to accommodate all the complex electronics inside and avoid vandalism and negative impact on the environment”. Next, the design had to materialize and, after much testing, it was decided to use “concrete, stainless steel and tempered glass to build these 11-ton, 3-meter-wide twin doors.”

All this became a reality because the people at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University’s Center for Creativity and Innovation “LinkMenų fabrikas” were crazy enough to believe in the idea and were able to make it happen.

The brain behind the project is Benediktas Gylys and it took 5 years to bring the idea to reality

The project was carried out during a pandemic, when travel within the country’s borders may be restricted, so going to other countries is almost out of the question. The creators of Vilnius Tech had been working on the portal for 5 years and this was the best time to present it publicly, when everyone is so isolated and eager to try something new.

There are plans to open more of these portals in various cities in the world and connect even more people

The portal between Vilnius and Lublin was the first in the world, but it will not be the last. The creators of the project hope to connect dozens of cities around the world, and there are already two new portals opening soon: one in Reykjavik, Iceland, and another in London, UK.

The team revealed that Reykjavík was chosen because of the important historical story that links it to Lithuania: Iceland was the first to recognize Lithuania’s independence in 1991 and the Lithuanians are grateful for this and wish to continue the partnership between the two countries. Also because Reykjavik contrasts perfectly with Vilnius.

London is important to them because they are starting a friendship with another international initiative.