The first national parks were established some two decades ago to preserve the most aesthetic natural features of the Lithuanian landscape, wildlife habitats and places of ethnographic interest. At the same time, Lithuania’s national parks are a focal point for recreation, ranging from one-day outings to natural history tours and ecological tourism.
In the south the national parks protect the bulk of the best forest land; in the northeast they guard the natural beauty of upland lakes. Each park also pr reserves valuable reminders of the local heritage, including farm buildings, agricultural implements and folk sculptures.
The national parks are excellent places for relaxation, fishing and sightseeing. Increasingly, traditional village houses are being fitted out to accommodate tourists. Boats for hire, information and other services are generally readily available. The parks are inhabited by game not often found in Western Europe, such as elk and wolves. Deer and wild boar are common throughout the country’s uninhabited areas.
Aukštaitija National Parks
In northeast Lithuania, the Au ukštaitija National Park is characterised by gently rolling hills and sparkling lakes and streams. The park is studded with 102 lakes of varying size, many of which can be seen at a glance from almost any hill. From Ladakalnis Hill, the vi
Motorists can drive to the nearby Museum of Beekeeping, and visit two picturesque water mills that have survived from the past. Visitors may purchase a fishing licence and try their luck.
Kuršių Nerija National Park
The Kuršių nerija National park was formally established only in 1991, although its delicate landscape was protected from human exploitation in the pr re-war period. The Curonian Peninsula, with its towering dunes – same of which still shift with the wind – its wide beaches and lush wood, attracts visitors from around the world. Almost all the woods that a contemporary might see were planted by local residents to stop the sand from shifting. At present, the Kurių Nerija National Park includes the aettlements of Juodkrantė, Pervalka, Preila and Nida. These former fishing villages have modern accommodation and are well equipped for tourism.
They are linked by
Virtually all of the coast along the Lithuanian side of the peninsula is unspoiled, and even in the summer, a visitors ca enjoy long stretches of beach almost all to himself. The well-maintained traditional architecture complements the natural features of this nature preserve. The park is home to same rare, protected flora as well as elks, deer, fox and sea birds. Most first-time visitors are pleasantly surprised and decide to return.
Žemaitija National Park
The Žemaitija National Park is just 45 kilometers from the Baltic Sea, and can be reached easily from Klaipėda or Palanga. The Žemaičiai uplands are centred around Lake Plateliai, the pride of the park. This, as well as the other 26 lakes in this nature preserve, are beloved by locals and visitors from more distant locations in Lithuania. Lake Plateliai has seven islands. This part of the region is famous for the town of Žemaičių Kalvarija, with its 19 chapels scattered over 12 hills. They were built in the 17th century, and today important religious festivals are often ce
Dzūkija National Park
Dzūkija National Park is southern Lithuania, and evergreen forests occupy over 60% of it. The sandy soil is not favourable for agriculture, and therefore the locals traditionally have found work in forestry. Local residents are fond of gathering berries, mushrooms and wild honey. The ethnographic villages in the national park are scattered among the pine forests, and are characterised by their unusual architecture, their wooden houses, and large yards. They are surrounded by relatively small fields, and, beyond them, the forest. The park has two larger rivers, suitable for canoeing, and quite a few smaller ones, which are a marvel to explore. One of them, the Skroblus, is notable for its meandering course and high, vertical, sandy banks. The roads are good and offer easy access to all objects of interest. The park is an easy two-hour drive from Vilnius.
Trakai National Historical Park
This park is located about 30 kilomtres from Vilnius. It is dotted with 33 lakes, which determined the siting there of the old town of Trakai and its imposing castle. Especially interesting is Lake Galvė with its 21 islands. On one of them stands a major symbol of Li
There are four main regions in Lithuania, commonly called ethnographic regions. This is because each one has a distinct character expressed by differences in its folk culture. They also differ in their topography, flora and fauna, and each one has its own dialect version of the language.
The largest region covers the north, east and middle of the country. Its name comes from the word aukštai, meaning high, as it includes a range of hilly uplands.
Aukštaitija is a land of pristine forests and beautiful lakes, and is immensely popular with tourists during the summer months. Despite this, it has managed to retain its unspoilt charm. The country‘s deepest (Tauragas) and its largest lake (Drūgščiai) can be found here. Many of the forests are very old and same have never heard the sound of an axe felling atree. The famous oak tree at Stelmužė is thought to be 1,500 years old.
The region has a pronounced rural character. Farms here are generally small, as it was customary among farmers to divide their land between their sons. There are many villages designated as ethnographic, in which an plder, quieter way of life has been preserved. There is a wide variety of museums of local folklore and farming, among them a beekeeping museum in the village of Stripeikiai. Among the many towns of interest is Anykščiai, the home town of a number of popular writers. The region is also renowned for its beer and is home to two of Lithuania‘s largest breweries, in Utena and Panevėžys, as well as many smaller ones.
The southern region of the country sits astride the Nemunas and borders Poland and Belarus. Most of it is forested. The name comes from a quirk of the dialect: people here often put the letter z after a consonant.
The westernmost region was first mentioned in records in the 13th century. The people here are well known for their industriousness. A large number of jokes also testifies to their stubbornness.
The tradition capital of the region, Telšiai, is a pleasant, quiet town situated on the edge of a lake. The Alka Museum in the town records the archaeology, history, flora and fauna of the area and of the country as a whole.
There are other museum in the region, covering folklore, rural life, various local writers and artists, and a museum dedicated to the culture of former country estates.
The lake at Plateliai lies at the heart of a national park and is very popular in summer.
Art Galleries and Museums
Lithuania has 85 museums, including three national, 16 state, 52 regional, 12 departmental and two private ones. Netional and state museums hold collections and exhibitions of archaeology, history and folk art. Regional museums are chiefly folk or commemorative.
The first museum in Lithuania was quite unusual: it was established in 1812 in the trunk of a huge hollowed-out oak tree. The writer Dionizas Poška, its founder, collected and exhibited historical relics, thus stimulating interest in the nation‘s past and resistance to increasing Russification. This museum still exists.
In 1855, the Museum of Antiquities was established in Vilnius and evolved into today‘s Lithuanian National Museum. The first state museum, the Vytautas Magnus Cultural Museum in Kaunas, was established in the 1920s.
Lithuania‘s museums attract over two million visitors annually. They contain over three million art and historical exhibits.
Although the National Gallery is located outside the historic centre of Vilnius, it is still worth visiting. A permanent display of folk sculpture, painting, furniture and linen is shown in stark, modernist surroundigs. Lithuanian art of the early 20th century is also shown here, as are occasional exhibitions.
The building is as interesting as its contents, being arranged as a group of boxes on different levels, joined by a series of staircases and mezzanines. One window the length of the wall gives a sweeping view of the city and the Neris.
Vilnius Picture Gallery
Lithuanian art is given its fullest showing in the Vilnius Picture Gallery. Here, in a former nobleman‘s palace, all the main movements from the 16th to the end of the 19th century are represented. This includes Baroque, Classical and Romantic painting. Several rooms are devoted to the architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius, and to the painter Pranciškus Smuglevičius, who both worked in the Classical style and collaborated on the design of Vilnius Cathedral.
The palace‘s rooms have recently been restored and are occasionally used as a venue for chamber music concerts.
M.K. Čiurlionis Art Museum
Also in Kaunas is the M.K. Čiurlionis Art Museum, which houses the largest single collection of work by the turn-of-the- century composer and artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, and where visitors may listen to recordings of his music. In addition, this gallery shows 20th- century Lithuanian painting and sculpture, and Lithuanian folk art.
Radvila Palace Museum
Another gallery in the Old Town in Vilnius is the Radvila Palace, housing an extensive collection of European art. It includes paintings by Salvator Rosa, Hobbema and Jacob van Ruisdale, and prints by Piranesi, Canaletto,Durer, Rembrandt and Goya. The collection covers the development of European art, from the Italian Renaissance to the early 20th century.
It has its origins in the exhibitions held in the first half of the present century when privately owned works were shown to the public. Same were then donated ti the Lithuanian Art Society, which began to build up an art collection. It was later supplemented after the Second World War with works confiscated from pivate collections and the church by the Soviet authorities.
Art enthusiasts will find the Radvila Palace a delight. They will be impressed by the range and quality of the collection, and by its display in pleasant, well-proportioned rooms.
The M. Žilinskas Gallery
The M. Žilinskas Gallery in Kaunas is also a modern, purpose-built gallery with another very impressive collection of art. Though not as comprehensive as the Radvila Palace in Vilnius, it is larger and covers certain schools extremely well.
One room is devoted to ancient art, mainly from Egypt, including two mummies, and also Greek and Roman amphorae and other artefacts. Other rooms hold Italian, French, Flemish and Dutch painting, including a painting by Rubens. In addition to works by Corot, Courbet, Manet and Renoir, the gallery holds a large number of turn-of-the-century German paintings. An extensive section on applied art includes porcelain, tapestries and furniture from Europe, Russia and the Far East.
The Rumšiškės Open-Air Museum of Country Life
The country‘s history is told in a number of large and small museums. The Open-Air Museum of Country Life at Rumšiškės covers 175 hectares and contains around 150 buildings from different regions and periods. There are houses, farms, windmills, several villages and even a small town. Most of the buildings are authentic, having been physically transplanted from their original sites; some are replicas, being built especially for the museum. It occupies a varied landscape on the shores of a man-made lake beside the main Vilnius-Kaunas motorway. The museum is about 70km from Vilnius.
Lithuanian History Museums
The Trakai Historical Museum is situated in the dramatic castle on an island in Lake Galvė. It covers the history of Lithuania during its “ Golden Age“ in the Middle Ages and illustrates it with weapons and other artefacts. A museum in another part of the castle holds an impressive collection of silver, porcelain and other objects of applied art.
In Vilnius, the Lithuanian National Museum and Gediminas Castle, both devoted to the country‘s history, are situated at the heart of the city.
These are just a few of the many history museums across the country. Every major town, and many smaller ones, have museums about the past. Many regions have their own outdoor museums.
In addition, there is a large number of museum devoted to special subjects. The biggest specialised amber museum in the word was founded in Palanga 34 years ago. The museum covers an area of 700 square metres, and in its rooms on two floors about 4,500 exhibits are on display. In its vaults the museum has a further 28,000 exhibits. It has already been visited by more than 7.5 million people.
The whole history of amber, from its formation to its possible applications, is displayed in the museum‘s showcases. In the archaeology rooms findings from the Stone Age and later times, which were excavated during archaeological expedition all over Lithuania, are on display.
Visitors spend most of their time looking through magnifying glasses at the illuminated prehistoric plants, seeds and insects caught in resin some 50 million years ago.
One the ground floor, against a dark blue and claret background, words in amber of Lithuanian craftsmen are arranged. There is one room in which the exhibition is changed each year so that every artist can show his skill. Formerly this room was the palace chapel.
The palace was built in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1897 and belonged to the large and famous Tiškevičius family which contributed greatly to the development of Lithuanian culture. They lived in Palanga and were not only the first professional archaelogists in the country, but also large-scale collectors of works of art.
It was after Count Tiškevičius bought an estate in Palanga that the town became famous as a resort. Through his efforts a school and the first hospital in Lithuania were established, and the first Lithuanian play was performed in Palanga. He was the main sponsort when the church was built, and the bricks used for its construction were made at his brickyard.
The count‘s collection of archaelogical amber is now at the museum. After the Soviets occupied Lithuania the family emigrated and the palace and the huge park were nationalised.
This is museum that grew out of a private collection. A local artist called Antanas Žmuidzinavičius began to collect figures of devils in 1906. Shortly after his death 60 years later at the age of 90, the devils were put on public display in his house in Kaunas.
However, the collection continued to grow and a two-storey extension was built to accommodate the gifts. At present there are about 3,000 different pieces.
Why collect devils? In the words of the collection‘s founder: “The devil is a symbol of the dark. Without the dark it would be impossible to see the light. The more devils, the more distinct the light“.
Beginning with wooden pipes, whistles made from reeds and horns made from rolled birch bark, and ending with modern accordions, the Folk Instrument Museum in Kaunas shows the evolution of folk instruments.
A whole room is dedicated to kanklės, a sort of zither. Curiosities include a set of bagpipes, and a bladder bass – a stringed instrument like a cello, using an animal bladder for amplification. The last of the eight rooms shows accordions, harmoniums and concertinas.
Although the emphasis is on Lithuanian folk music, the colection includes many instruments from other countries.
History of Medicine
The museum of Medicine and Pharmacy in Kaunas begins with a display of lucky talismans and explores its subject through recreations of doctor‘s and dentist‘s examining rooms, a hospital ward and a complete chemist‘s shop with wooden cabinets, a counter and till, and jars of medicine. Low doorways and a tortuous staircase lead down to the basement of this handsome house in Kaunas. Here in the vaulted cellars are displayed lucky talismans and early medicines. In the more spacious upstairs rooms are pieces of equipment for preparing medicines.
In Klaipėda, the Clock Museum shows the history of timekeeping, from early sundials to electronic clocks, and is set in the house of a wealthy merchant who used to live in Klaipėda at the beginning of the 19th century.
The museum explains not only the mechanisms but also the development of clock design. It is worth lingering in the museum‘s elegant rooms when the hour is struck to hear the chorus of assorted chimes.
The presence of a bicycle factory in Šiauliai explains why the sity has a bicycle museum. It shows the development of bicycles from 1905 to the present day. The exhibition includes two-seater tricycles, tandems and exercise bicycles, also pumps, baggage carriers, lights, reflectors and dynamos.
Lithuanian-made bicycles are on display too, from older models, with names such as Vyturėlis, Kregždutė and Ereliukas, to the recent models Niagara, Jumpman and Terminator.
The Maironis Museum of Lithuanian Literature
This museum is located in the Old Town of Kaunas near the Town Hall. The building in which the Maironis museum is housed was built in the Baroque style and served as the residence of a wealthy town dweller. Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis, one of Lithuania‘s greatest poets, purchased this residence in 1909 and lived in it until his death in 1932.
The Maironis museum was established in 1936. At first the museum included three rooms of the Maironis residence. In 1941, the museum began accumulating exhibits of other Lithuanian writers as well. Gradually it evolved into the equivalent of a national museum of literature.
At present the museum preserves 200,000 items and 600 collections of archival material, manuscripts, autographed books and personal belongings of Lithuanian writers. Beginning in 1989, the Maironis museum began receiving exhibits of Lithuanian exile writers.
The Hospitable Land of Telšiai
The land of Telšiai, an area of 1,439 sq. km, lies in northwestern Lithuania, in the Žemaičių Highland. The highest point there is the legendary Šatrija hill and the lowest place is the lowland of the middle reaches of the Venta.
This land boasts wonderful nature adorned with numerous hills, which is a real feast for one‘s eyes.
Through the land of Telšiai winds the river Virvyčia, and the Minija, the great river of the Žemaičiai, praised by poets, also has its source there. The 47 lakes is an integral part of the landscape of theTelšiai land. The largest of them are Lūkstas, Tausalas and Germantas. Thus, every person longing for peace and rest can draw strength from nature.
Telšiai is the capital of Žemaitija – a peculiar historical and ethnographic part of western Lithuania, and the administrative center of the Telšiai county and region. It has grown on seven hills described in the legends, near beautiful Lake Mastis. One of the stories mentions giant Telys who with the single movement of his hand dug out Lake Telšiai and built seven hills on which he founded a town of the Samogitians.
Currently, the town covers an area of 1,637 ha and has more than 35,000 inhabitants. There are eight secondary schools, the Children‘s Musical and Art School, the Higher Applied Art School and the rich Samogitian Museum “Alka“ with a local life section. Telšiai features 74 cultural monuments, including 36 architectural ones. Near Telšiai, in Džiuginėnai, by beautiful Lake Germantas, still stands the building of a manor that was the residence of Lithuanian classical writer emait and J.Perkowski, critic of the Samogitian folk art. The old streets of Telšiai remember the learned men and women who once lived there: V.Vydūnas, I.Simonaitytė, Pr.Grenys, E.ciuras, Vyt.Mačernis, T.Valius, P.Augius, A.H.Tornau, A.Tenisonas, the Gedneriai family, F.Milevičius and many others.
The winding roads leading through the picturesque environs past Rainiai or Žarėnai will bring you to Old Varniai.
The Žemaičiai Country Life Museum received the first visitors in 1982. Surrounded by fir woods, the area contains three farmsteads composed of 16 buildings and a wooden windmill. The authentic late 19th-century houses of rural Žemaitija have numerous period household utensils, agriculture implements and furniture on display. Thus, folk festivals and performances held at the museum enjoy an authentic environment. The place is gladly frequented by the townspeople of Telšiai, and tourists are also welcome.
This peculiar town of Žemaitija is situated between mysterious Lake Biržulis and Lake Lūkstas on both sides of the small and winding Varnelė river. Apart from Bishop M.Valančius secondary shool Varniai also has an agrarian shool. Near beautiful Lake Lūkstas a nice recreation site is being developed by the efforts of private businessmen. The wellknown Varniai blues evenings and international youth camps are organized there. Luokė, in the depth of the park near the manor you will find the celebrated Laumės Pėda (Witch Footprint). To Believe the legend, the water of the springs here is miraculous – it contains the power of youth and health. Three things are necessary to achieve the result: to drink some of this water, wash one‘s face with it and have a great desire.
1.Lithuania is small and very beautiful country.
2.There are a lot of beautiful rivers and lakes.
3.In Lithuania are several museums and galleries.
4.In Lithuania are a lot of tourists.
INFORMACIJOS ŠALTINIŲ SĄRAŠAS
Algirdas Žebrauskas „Svetingas Telšių miestas“.
Lithuania „Facts and Figures“ Vilnius 1999.
Mara Zemite „Let‘s get talking“ Kaunas 2000.
Danutė Guščiuvienė, Liuda Lenkauskienė, Dana Leščinskienė, Audronė Nastajienė, „14 Englich topics“ Kaišiadorys 2000.