Alytus County

Alytus County

The City with an area of 3,350 hectares has 77,000 inhabitans, 96% of whom are Lithuanian, 2% Russian, 0.7%Polish, and 0.3%Byelorussian. The city overlaps both banks of the Nemunas River. It is also between two busy thoroughfares, the Kaunas-Grodno, and the Kaišiadorys- Grodno Highways.

Unquestionably, the economic and cultural center of Dzūkija, Alytus also holds the postion as one of the biggest industrial centers of Lithuania.

A XIV c. wooden castle, an important defense fortress against the onslaughts of the Teutonic Order, was strategically situated onn the right bank of Nemunas. Alytus was first officially documented in 1387. A township was initially founded on the right bank of Nemunas, but it spread over to the left bank in the end of the XVc. The City was graced by its first wooden church in 1524, and Magdeburg Rights were granted in 1581. A famous trading post and crafts production center during the first half of the XVII c.,decline of the thriving City began following the devastating wars in the miiddle of the century.

Following the fall of the Lithuania-Poland Commonwealth, the City districts on the right side of the River came under Russian rule, and on the left side, Prussian rule. In 1815, the Prussian side also came under Russian rule, to

o the Kingdom of Poland administrative unit. Although Alytus did grow in the XIX c., following the Rebellion of 1831, City Rights were withdrawn. At the end of the century, the City had been converted to Russian border stronghold.

At the end of the XX c., virtually all of Alytus was consumed by fire, however it was capable of bounding back and reconstructing rather rapidly. World War I, in this case, brought no particular losses, because the Russian Army withdrew from Alytus without a fight. Between the World Wars, the City was to grow again, once being designated the Country center.

At that time, the first High Secondary Schools were established, and Agricultural and Forestry Schools operated. A new bridge was erected, joining thhe City districts of both sides of the River.

During World War II the City lost twothirds of its buildings. It took several decades to rebuild. The bridge was not repaired for 15 years, causing the City to divide once again. During this period of time the population stood at 12,000 people. During the late 1970s, Alytus was granted City Rights Under State Obligation, and with that, again grew and developed rapidly.

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