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Gediminas Castle Tower on euro banknotes

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One can see the Gediminas Castle Tower as well as Pažaislis Monastery, Trakai Castle and other Lithuanian sights on euro banknotes. Although truth be told, these euro banknotes are not legal tender and are not officially issued by the European Central Bank (ECB). So what are these special banknotes? 


In all fairness, although these banknotes boast the euro name on them, they have no denomination or, more precisely, their denomination is 0. Therefore, it is not quite right to call them banknotes at all, as they are not issued by any bank. The ECB has also nothing to do with their issuing, although it has given permission to print such banknotes for strictly tourism purposes. Interestingly enough, these “banknotes” have unique serial numbers as well as security features, e.g. watermarks, fluorescent symbols and special colour-changing stickers. Upon touch, they also seem to be real money. However, their basic parameters do not adhere to those of genuine euro banknotes, even though they look so similar to the real ones. 


The man behind the idea of souvenir money is Richard Faille, a French businessman who thought of this in 2015. The purpose of such banknotes is the promotion of tourism and events related to different countries. The “banknotes” cannot be earned – they are simply bought at souvenir shops, tourist attractions and so on.


The predominant colour of such banknotes is purple. The banknotes’ front features objects that countries wish to promote, while the back boasts the most famous European buildings. Amongst them is the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Colosseum in Rome, etc. Interestingly, the Belém Tower in Lisbon, Portugal, which can be seen on the banknotes nowadays is actually the replacement of the Big Ben Tower that used to be featured there before. In addition, you can also see one of the most well known paintings, the Mona Lisa, on the banknotes as well.


And that is not all of the European symbolism. For example, the special stickers – holograms – show the Eiffel Tower from below. Actually, such view of the Tower used to be featured on a 500 French franc banknote.


These souvenir banknotes have been issued by all the European countries, even those that are not members of the EU. Another interesting fact is that such banknotes can be found even outside of Europe: they were issued in China, the US, Canada and even in Australia as well as the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, they were also issued in such exotic countries as Haiti and Mauritius. Therefore, these “banknotes” feature some of the most world-famous architectural, nature, cultural objects and animals. Some of them also picture people, e.g. Albert Einstein or even such controversial personalities as Vladimir Lenin or Mao Zedong.


These souvenir banknotes are also popular amongst collectors. Some have even increased in value. For example, one of the largest marine parks in Europe, Marineland, which is located in France, had issued some of these banknotes. In 2015, the park was severely affected by huge floods and most of the souvenir banknotes got lost.

Those that have survived are nowadays resold at a much larger price. 
Four of such souvenir banknotes are dedicated to Lithuania. They were printed in 2018 and feature Vilnius Cathedral, the Gediminas Castle Tower, the Three Crosses monument and the sights of Kaunas and Trakai. 

  

  


To sum up, it should be emphasised that these souvenirs have nothing to do with genuine euro banknotes. No real-life buildings are featured on authentic euro banknotes that are in circulation. Their obverses feature windows and arcs, while the reverses depict bridges. All of the euro banknotes feature architectural styles from different periods of Europe’s cultural history. It was decided not to feature any real buildings so that no country would feel left out. All euro banknotes were designed by Austrian artist Robert Kalina. 

For more information, see https://www.lb.lt/en/euro-banknote-denominations.
 

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Last updated: 2021-07-27