Birštonas

PROJECT

A RESORT PLACE I LIKE BEST

CONTENTS

• Introduction

• The aim of the Project Work

• The Project Work

“A resort place I like best”:

• History;

• Land;

• Population;

• Facilities;

• About Birstonas;

• Things to do;

• Regularly scheduled sport and cultural events;

• Sanatoriums;
Conclusions

INTRODUCTION

One day our English teacher asked us to make a project work. She gave us a
lot of subjects and we had to choose one of them. I have chosen “A resort
place I like best”. A resort place I like best is Birstonas. My parents –
my mother and my father, were born in Birstonas. First time I visited
Birstonas when I was four years old. It was fantastic! I enjoyed breathing
the fresh air, walking in wonderful pinewoods, swimming in enormous
swimming-pools. Birstonas charmed me from my childhood. It is the only
town, where I can relax. That is the reason why I visit Birstonas every
year.

THE AIM OF THE PROJECT WORK

There are a lot of aims of my project work. I will mention some of them:

• It was very useful for me to make a project work because now (after

making it) I know plenty of new facts about this unique resort town –

Birstonas;

• I have friends in United States of America, in United Kingdom and in

Italy. I am able to tell a great number of interesting facts about

Birstonas to my friends.

• I have re

epeated the subject that we learned about in our English

lessons – Resort town in Lithuania.

HISTORY

Birstonas is situated in the southern part of Lithuania at the one of the
bends of the Nemunas River. In 1966 it gained the status of the town of
republican subordination.

First time the name of Birstonas was mentioned in 1382. Chronicle of Vygand
of Marburg mentions “a farmstead at the salty water” (Birstain or Birstan).
The wooden castle of Birstonas is also referred to in descriptions of the
routes to Lithuania by Crusaders’ scouts; these descriptions, surviving
from the period of 1384-1402, include the above-mentioned names of
Birstonas. In the early 19th century, Teodoras Narbutas, a researcher of
Lithuanian history, discovered these documents in the secret archives of
Konigsberg. The master of the castle, Vytautas the Great, was a keeen
hunter. For hunting sessions the game would have been driven into the
forest surrounded by the Nemunas bend from Trakai and Aukstadvaris; that is
why the forest is still called Zverincius (a place full of beasts).

Birstonas developed into a highly sought after and prized health resort
town. It served the restorative and relaxation needs primarily of the
citizens of the Soviet Union prior to Lithuania’s independence in March of
1990. Since the independence of 1990, Birstonas has been free to develop
its beautiful surroundings, clean air, and abundant so

ources of water into
one of Lithuania’s most charming destinations. It’s charm of late XIX
century -early XX century resort villas were never spoiled by soviet style
“architecture.” The tallest building is only 4 stories high. The entire
city is ablaze in nature and colour throughout the seasons.
In 1414 a famous Flemish traveller Gilbert de Lanua visited the region and
was the first one to mention the Birstonas Castle. Sources tell that
escaping from plague epidemic the Grand Duke of Lithuania Kazimieras
Jogailaitis with his family spent there the winter of 1473. The hunting
estate had been expanding rapidly and it became known as Birstonas town in
1518. The first church there was built in 1549 (rebuilt in 1643). The town
was severely damaged during the 17th century wars against Russia.

From 1924 Birstonas was subordinate to Lithuanian Red Cross organization.
The park was cleaned out, new buildings and running water system were
built, and water springs put in order. In 1924 the production of bottled
mineral water from Birstonas springs “Birute” and “Vytautas” was started at
the hotel Lietuva in Kaunas. Later on the production process was moved to a
small plant in Birstonas. Buildings for mud treatment procedures were built
in 1927, while buildings for mineral water procedures – in 1931.

In 1939 the monument to Doctor Jonas Basanavicius (sculptor A.
Aleksandravicius), a leader and ideologist of Lithuanian na

ational movement,
was erected in Birstonas and stands there until now. World War II severely
damaged the town; the fire destroyed the most beautiful building of the
town, Kurhaus (it was rebuilt later) as well as the pictures by famous
painter Kazys Simonis that were kept in it.

Professor Balys Sruoga, a Lithuanian writer, came to Birstonas to recover
and be treated at the Baltoji vila (White Villa) Sanatorium after the years
in Stutthof concentration camp, in 1946. In Birstonas he wrote his best
novel “Dievu miskas” (“Forest of the Gods”). It was built the monument to
Balys Sruoga (sculptor G. Plechavicius) here.

Birstonas hydrographical network includes the Nemunas River, the Druskupis
rivulet, mineral springs, and wells. When the Kaunas Hydroelectric power
station was put in operation, the water level of the Nemunas by Birstonas
increased. After 1959 flood, 2.2 m of length embankment was made to protect
the town from floodwater.

The history of the town is introduced at the history museum that was opened
in 1967. It has a conventional exposition and two exhibit halls. Museum
archives contain about 6,000 pieces. The museum organizes meetings,
exhibitions, and lessons of history. A sacred museum commemorating Cardinal
V. Sladkevicius and Archbishop J. Matulionis has been founded.

The beginning of secondary education dates back to 1796, when the first
primary school was opened in Birstonas. It keeps contacts wi

ith Kolding
Bakke School in Denmark, Leck School in Germany, and Bykle and Hovden
Schools in Norway.

Art School has operated in Birstonas since 1978. Students can take grand
piano, accordion, violin, clarinet and guitar classes. The painting section
was opened in 1986; children’s creative group, “Molinukas”, was set up at
it.

The nursery-school (kindergarten) “Vyturelis” was opened in 1987. Nowadays
education there is based on ethnic traditions.

The town is proud of its cultural life. Concerts, theatre events,
conferences take place at the 500-seat Birstonas cultural center hall.
Meetings with interesting people, exhibits, contests and disco parties are
organized at the small hall of the center. The cultural center also
includes wood carving studio “Uosiukas”, photography studio “Varpas”,
theatre studio, and music and dancing groups. Such popular events as
International Birstonas Jazz Festival, sports dancing contest “Birstonas
autumn”, and International J.Valunas Cup Ballooning competition, are
organized.

The town has a public library, which contains more than 70,000 publications
and 3,000 videotapes, vinyl records, compact discs.

Newly established sports and tourism information center organizes sports
events, and provides tourism services. An Olympic Rowing Center provides
perfect conditions for training and practicing indoors and outdoors as
well. 80-bed dormitory for sportsmen is available at the center.

The Nemunas Bend Regional Park is an adorable place for relaxation and
tourism. The length of the Nemunas in the park territory is 79 km. On the
left bank of the Nemunas River in the Alksniakiemis pinewood, stretches a
sculptural pathway to commemorate victims of Stalinism.

New architecture dominates the town, though there are some late 19th –
early 20th century villas, too. Neogothic St Anthony of Padua Church, built
in 1909, highlights the town.

On August 21, 1995 the President of the Republic of Lithuania confirmed
the coat of arms of the Birstonas town. It reflects the special features of
the resort: the mythological fish from whose back fountains water
symbolizes the background of resort’s past and present.

On July 17, 1998 in the park of Birstonas, the statue of Vytautas the Great
(by G. Jakubonis) was opened.

The town popularizes the art of minor plastics (23 works); sculptors’
meetings take place there.

The park was established in 1992 for the protection of the unique Great
Bends of the Nemunas and the marvellous landscape of the Punia Pine Woods,
its natural ecosystem and cultural treasures.
The Nemunas Great Bends form a 79-kilometre-long stretch of the middle
reaches of the twisting river, beginning 3 kilometers above Punia and
finishing 1 kilometer below Birstonas. The Nemunas Great Bends include the
Punia, Balbieriskis, Prienai and Birstonas Bends. The park is within the
central part of the Prienai region and embraces the entire town of
Birstonas, while the Punia Pine Woods and the village of Punia take up the
northern section of Alytus region.

LAND

12407 ha, of which 6945 ha are forests, 4251 ha – agricultural lands, 279
ha – water areas, 102 ha – roads, 350 ha – developed area, 478 ha – area of
other designation. A major part of the total territory of the Birstonas
Park is covered with forests, of which the Punia Pine Wood (2,760 hectares)
is the largest in the park. 470 hectares of the territory of the Punia Wood
has been declared a reserve. The park has a precious cultural heritage and
offers nice opportunities for recreation.

POPULATION

There are 3,800 inhabitants in Birstonas. 44.74% are men, 55.26% are women.
Ethnic descent: 94% are Lithuanian, 4% – Russian, 0.5% – Polish, 0.3% –
Belarusian, and 1.2% – of other descents.

FACILITIES

2 post offices, a bus station, a hotel, a kindergarten, primary school,
joint kindergarten-school, basic school, a secondary school, a school of
art, a public library and 3 branches, a cultural centre, 2 churches, a
museum, a bank, a book-shop, various objects of cultural value, a sport
complex, a dispensary, 2 drugstores, 2 sanatoriums, 13 shops, 8 public
catering establishments.

ABOUT BIRSTONAS

Birstonas is picturesquely situated on the right bank of Nemunas River in
the center of the Regional Park of the Nemunas 60- kilometers-long loops.
Pinewoods and greenery surround this resort town. It is easily reached 90
km from Vilnius and 40 km from Kaunas.

This corner of land is urbanized with extreme care. The resort is open all
year round. The main curative factors – curative peat and mineral waters
with different degrees of mineralization (natrium chloride) used for
drinking and curative baths. Patients with disturbances of latent digestive
tract and blood circulation are treated in this resort. Sanatoria and
resort houses are open all year round. The resort offers therapy and
recreation year-round. This is the very place for tourism, sports and
relaxation. Birstonas is surrounded by water. The River Nemunas, located on
both sides of this quaint and picturesque town, offers boating and fishing
opportunities. Three man-made lakes are located within the city limits for
tourist’s swimming pleasure. The natural mineral water, provided by several
deep springs, is bottled locally under the names of “Vytautas”, “Birute”,
and “BMV”. The two sanatoriums / spas in Birstonas, among the finest in
Lithuania, offer an indoor swimming-pool, underwater massage, as well as
mineral water and mud baths, among their many other services.

As the center of The Nemunas Loops Regional Park, an abundance of walking,
hiking and bicycle paths have been prepared for our pleasure around the
town, along the river, and through the forests. During the winter months
these paths are widely used by cross-country skiers.
Birstonas promotes many cultural events including ongoing concerts,
artistic performances and shows, an annual town festival and annual
national sport dance competition, as well as the renowned International
Jazz Festival held every other even numbered year.

Birstonas is easy to get to from all directions and offers us a host of
choices for all of our rest, rehabilitation, relaxation and sport desires.

THINGS TO DO

Fishing

The Nemunas River is the location of abundant year round fishing. The most
common fish available is the carp, eel, bream, chub, and barbell.
Berry and mushroom picking

Berry and mushroom picking are national pastimes in Lithuania and the
forests of Birstonas are a natural setting for a vast array of desirable
edibles. The small forest in the heart of the city, Pusynas, offers
varieties of berries and the larger state forest, Zverincius, offers
berries and mushrooms for our enjoyment. Both forests have nice, scenic
walking paths.
Boating

The Nemunas River is the playground for boaters of all kinds. Rowing scull,
kayak, water bicycle, motor and fishing boats are all seen (and sometimes
heard) on the Nemunas. The Nemunas also provides a waterway connection to
Nida on the Baltic Sea during the summer months, by transferring to a ferry
in Kaunas for the ride to Nida.
Orienteering

The forests surrounding Birstonas and Prienai and along side of the Nemunas
River are perfect for the sport of orienteering. The Lithuanian
Orienteering Federation hosted an International Orienteering Competition
here in July 2000.
Biking

The entire town and the surrounding forests are extremely “bike-friendly.”
Bring your bike and follow the miles of paths through the forest for an
entire day of exercise, beauty and relaxation in the out-of-doors. Stop for
a picnic, pick some berries, and watch the birds. The easiest way to see
the charm of the town is on bicycle, as well.
Cross country skiing

The moderate climate and ample snowfall in the winter provide enjoyable
cross country skiing opportunities through the forest, in the parks, and
along and on the river.
Race walking
Every day we can observe old and young alike in training for race walking
competitions. Clearly marked routes have been prepared and marked for
distance. The recreational sport walker and runner can enjoy these paths,
as well as the newly resurfaced walking paths by the river.
Swimming indoors
The sanatorium, “Versme”, has a great Olympic sized indoor swimming pool
for water games, water exercise and lap swimming.
Swimming outdoors
Three man-made lakes within the city limits provide a pleasant setting to
relax, swim, have a picnic and work on your suntan during the summer
months.
The museum of Birstonas

The museum was founded in the previous cottage of the owner A. Katele in
1967, when the displays were first brought to the museum by the
schoolchildren of Birstonas Secondary School. Over 546 displays are on
constant show to the visitors. The museum features permanent exhibitions
about the medical and social / political history of Birstonas. Visiting
exhibits as well as works of art by local, national and foreign artists are
exhibited.

REGULARLY SCHEDULED SPORT AND CULTURAL EVENTS

Birstonas Jazz Festival

Birstonas Jazz festivals began in 1980. This world class, international
event is staged every two years at the Cultural Center in Birstonas and
attracts a large following of people to one of Lithuania’s finest musical
events. It draws renowned jazz musicians from around Lithuania, the
Scandinavian, and other European countries. Held during the end of March
every even numbered year.
International rowing competition

The Nemunas River and the Birstonas Olympic Rowing Center plays host to
Olympic rowing champions from around the world. Held the 4th weekend in
April.
Mikenas cup race-walking competition

Birstonas is a Mecca of race-walk training and competition. This
competition is held the first Saturday in May and brings repeat competitors
each year to the well-organized event.

Poetry Springs

Each year Birstonas’ lovely outdoor surroundings set the stage for readings
by published poets and scholars which are then accompanied by music and
acting. This very pleasing experience generally occurs the last Saturday in
May.

Annual Town Festival

The second weekend in June the town of Birstonas comes alive for four days
of parades, concerts, dances, and folk art sales around the town. Also
during this time an International Hot Air Balloon and Air Show is held as
well as the Lithuanian Power Boat Racing competition. The best town
festival around. Not to be missed.
“Birstonas Autumn” dance sport competition

Annually, the second weekend in November, Birstonas’ Culture Center sets
the stage for dance competitors from around Lithuania – joyful, fun and
energizing event.

SANATORIUMS

In the 19th century the town became far-famed with its sources of mineral
waters that had healing effect. The first patients were treated with
mineral water already in 1846 and the year is considered to be the
beginning of the town as a resort. Since then, Birstonas has been receiving
patients from such cities as Warsaw and Petersburg. Until Word War I, more
than 2,000 people visited the resort annually.

“Tulpe” sanatorium
This sanitarium was the first in Birstonas. In it are rehabilitation and
sanitarium treatments and services for patients after abdominal surgery,
and those with digestive, bone, and muscle system disorders. Treatments
also include the age old and effective mineral water and mud curative
baths. “Tulpe” Sanatorium, having long-term traditions of balneological
treatment, was founded in 1959. In 1989 treatment of oncological diseases
and rehabilitation treatment for post-operation patients was started. There
functions specialized departments for patients with nervous system
disorders, and joint and oncological diseases as well.

“Versme” sanatorium

Founded in 1975, this institution specializes in rest, treatment and
rehabilitation services to Lithuanian and foreign visitors. Just as in the
old days, mineral water and mud baths are used for curative purposes. If
you wish to be healthier, more efficient or just more attractive, visit
magnificent health resort “Versme” in Birstonas for treatment and
relaxation.

Guests and visitors arrive at spa either for recuperation, or for
rehabilitation treatment, ambulatory care, or preventive treatments,
especially those, who suffer from orthopedic trauma, and neurological,
anthological, oncological, endo-crynological and pulmonal ailments.

Well-arranged and furnished rooms designed for kinetic therapy and sports,
a swimming-pool, a sauna and renovated treatment rooms.

Facility is excellently equipped with the most modern diagnosing
apparatuses, including devices for ultra-sound examination of abdominal
interior organs, lower limb blood circulation, and spirography devices for
examining the respiratory system. All the specialists are well trained in
the area of using laser devices, electromagnetic and electrical stimulation
equipment and are well prepared. Group and individual relaxing
psychotherapy sessions are also organized.

Pulmonal patients are treated in a most tranquil environment by means of
light and sound therapy (halotherapy) in high-tech salt therapy chambers.
Both sanatoriums offer services for the day tourist such as:

• Hotel rooms with private baths

• Good food

• Use of swimming pool

• Mud and mineral water baths

• Underwater and traditional massages

• Beauty services such as hair cutting, manicures, pedicures

and facials

CONCLUSIONS

Nestled amid the grand forests, and tucked in an arm of one of the famous
Nemunas River bends, a delightful surprise awaits the traveler to
Lithuania’s south-central countryside. Birstonas is simply the most
beautiful little town in all Lithuania.
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