Lietuvos priešistorė ir 3 didžiausi Lietuvos miestai

Prehistory of Lithuania
The first settlers of Lithuania arrived from the south and southwest in pursuit of reindeer, which were feeding on the tundra left by the receding glaciers of the Ice Age. This occurred sometime during the period of 10,000 B.C. Small groups of hunters would set up short-term campsites at the shores of the rapidly flowing rivers. These hunters left behind their primary tools, including flint arrowheads, and fur working and scraping tools. Archaeologists have classified the cultures of these peeoples – the Swiderian and Madlenas – by the types of arrowheads.
The climate of Lithuania began to warm rapidly in the eighth millennium B.C. Forests flourished throughout the land. Along with hunting, fishing and gathering became the most important activities of the settlers. Fishnets were crafted, and canoes carved. The workings in flint stone showed on-going improvement. The fashioning of small tools made of small flint chips evolved, along with more complex articles, made of two different materials. Bone fishing harpoons with fllint blades evolved from these early artefacts. People lived in groups of several families alongside the larger bodies of water. The flint artefacts, which have survived within Lithuania, have been categorised as being made by people of two cultural tribes &#

#8211; the Nemunas and the Kunda.
The first known burial grounds also appeared during this time period. The oldest known human graveyard in Lithuania was found at the Spigino Ragas locale of the Telsiai region, and carbon dated at 5871 B.C. The remains of the person found there, showed that the deceased had been escorted into the other world, arrayed in necklaces of animal teeth, and had been covered in ochre, a mineral of red colour. The deceased had been a Europide of average height and massive build.
The climate continued becoming more and more moderate, which allowed for an easier lifestyle, and people were able to pay greater attention to their households and to farming. Use of ordinary tents was replaced by more coomplex structures of posts, wherein large families resided. Pointed base pots of clay with ornamentation at the top were being fashioned from the fourth millennium B.C. Primitive wooden ploughs were being employed for working the land, and stocks of animals were being bred from the third millennium B.C. Crafts and trading began developing during that period. Amber was being fashioned at the seashore, which the natives traded to neighbouring tribes for small schistose axes. The archaeological cultural groups of this pe
eriod in Lithuania have been named the Nemunas and Narva.
A group called the Corded Ware Culture (due to the characteristic impressions of cords on their pottery ornamentation) appeared on Lithuanian territory, migrating from the south during the third millennium B.C. Most scientists tend to link these peoples with Indo-Europeans. They brought with them a culture, different from the one found previously in Lithuania. In addition to a unique form of ceramics, axes of polished stone with drilled shaft holes were characteristic of this cultural group. They also introduced a tradition of burying the dead in a crouched form. The Corded Ware Culture people were engaged in stockbreeding. They came upon Lithuanian territory in waves, probably riding in on horseback. Once they integrated with the natives, two cultural groups evolved: the Pomeranians, who were probably dominated by the peoples of the Corded Ware Culture, and the Narva, dominated by native dwellers.
The first works, made of brass, which had been brought in from Central Europe, appeared in Lithuania at about 1,800 B.C. After a few hundred years, brass began being smelted locally, using imported raw material. As the use of metal began being incorporated into daily life, marked changes occurred in the community. Th
he people who had the skill for hammering metal tools and weapons became the leading members of their communities. Over time, a differentiation in wealth occurred, and the unavoidable consequence of warring conflicts. Settlements began being fortified. Wooden safety walls were erected, and buildings began being built on steep hillsides. The first hill-forts appeared at the turn of the century, between 2,000 and 1,000 B.C., on the heights of Eastern Lithuania. Gravesites began being specially demarcated. Knolls of earth were poured on top, forming burial mounds, and stones laid around the grave. The cremation of the dead was initiated, and the ashes of the remains were poured into clay containers – urns, made especially for this occasion.
A striated style of ceramics became popular over most of Lithuania during the first millennium B.C. The name had been derived from the characteristic manner of smoothing the surfaces of moulded ceramic pieces by using a tuft of grass. The people, engaged in this expression of culture, were farmers, who raised various types of animals, as well as hunted. Most tools were made from stone and bone, due to the high cost of bronze. As the population grew, the living area atop the hill-forts grew crowded, and pe
eople began moving down to the foots of the hill-forts from approximately the middle of the first millennium B.C. The first artefacts to be made in iron began being used from the fifth centuries B.C., however it was not until the II century, that iron began being smelted from iron ore. In the meantime, hill-forts began being fortified by the building of embankments and digging of trenches from the more easily accessible sides.
During the II century A.D., the tribes living within Lithuanian territory were distinguished by 4 major groups, which differed by virtue of their material wellbeing, and their manner of burial. At the seashore of Lithuania, the tradition was to bury the dead, without cremating them, in flat burial sites, which were marked by stone wreathes around them. Various items, mostly hand made tools and ornaments, would be placed in the grave. Graves such as these disappeared during the VII century. In Central Samogitia and Northern Lithuania the dead were interred in what are known as burial mounds – poured units of graves. These would be surrounded by wreathes of rather large rocks. Each of these burial mounds would contain several skeleton graves, wherein were work tools, weapons and ornaments. Such burial mound graves lasted as a tradition in these parts of Lithuania until the end of the V century. Central Lithuania took on a habit, from as early as the I century, of burying their dead in flat burial sites, rather than cremating them. Few burial items would be added, mostly bronze ornaments. At the Lower Nemunas River the dead were also buried, rather than being cremated, but in flat burial grounds. An abundant amount of artefacts, such as iron spearheads, axes, knives, bronze brooches, bracelets, and ornamental pins would be included in the grave. The names of the tribes, which had left behind these graveyards, are unknown.
The tribes, native to the eastern part of the Baltic seashore, caught the attention of Roman merchants during the I century, the time that the Roman Empire was at its greatest power. The Romans traded bronze works, primarily coins and brooches, fashionable during that age, in exchange for amber. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian, made mention of the Aestii tribe of farming people, who gathered amber in the year 98. That was the first known written record about tribes of Balts in historical annals.
The first wave of migrations from other countries reached Lithuania during the II century. There is evidence that a second wave occurred at the end of the IV century. Tribes of Balts from the southwest migrated to the south and east of Lithuania, due to pressure from the Goths. They brought with them new traditions and burial customs. As a result, the culture of the striated ceramics makers came to demise. The newcomers established settlements without reinforcements, either at the foot of hill-forts, or at a distance further from them. They buried their dead in stone edged burial mound graves, along with iron weapons and bronze ornaments. At about the same time, the custom of burying a person with a horse made an appearance in Lithuania. In the south of Lithuania, the burial mounds with skeleton graves were common. These were distinctive in appearance by the rocks piled on them. During this same time period, hill-forts became reinforced shelters, made by piling earth embankments, where people from the surrounding areas could gather to hide in times of danger. The witness to such troubled times was the increased abundance of weapons found in the graves. The graves of this time also indicate a sharp differentiation of wealth. Alongside the graves of prominent persons with their silver and gold gilded artefacts, were the graves of the poor, where either few or no added artefacts were found. At this time, tribal leadership and a social layer of patriarchal slaves were forming at a fast pace. The Tribes of Balts were drawn into the wars being fought in Europe. Sometime around the middle of the IV century, Gothic King Hermanarik subdued the Aestii. Aestii messengers were known to have delivered amber to Teodorik, leader of the East Goths, in Rome in the year 525.
The wandering tribes from the Steppes devastated Lithuania during the first half of the V century. Settlements were burned down, and their residents killed throughout Eastern and Central Lithuania. The traces of the fires still found at the hill-forts, and the stray arrowheads, endemic to those people, provide silent witness to the battles of that age. The custom of cremating the dead began to spread from the east and the southwest from the V century. The ashes of the dead, along with various artefacts, were buried into a small hole dug in the ground. The Slavic tribes, which were rapidly increasing in the vast areas of Eastern Europe during the VI century, began to pressure the Balts from the east, and the areas, which had been inhabited by the Balts, began to recede.
Tribes of Balts, whose names were known from later written annals, were differentiated, according to the VI to VII century burial headstones they used. The Lithuanian tribe left behind burial mound graves of sand with cremated remains in East Lithuania. The Lithuanian tribe settled in villages, and earned their livings primarily by breeding stock animals. They especially liked horses. Their dead were buried with iron axes, spearheads, and a small amount of ornaments and work tools. This tribe had increasing influence to the north, the west and the southwest. Their neighbours to the north, the Selonians, lived in small villages among the forests. This tribe did not cremate their dead, and would add many bronze ornaments, such as bracelets, neck-rings, headbands and brooches. The Upland Lithuanians lived to the west of the Lithuanian tribe in Central Lithuania. Upland Lithuanians enjoyed abundant harvests raised in the rich soil at riverbanks, and also bred herds of animal stock. These people sent their deceased to the other world cremated, and with an abundant array of burial items and one or several horses. To the southwest of the Lithuanians, between the Neris and Nemunas Rivers, as well as the Uznemune waters, the warlike Jatvingian tribe lived in small numbers. They were also engaged in farming and stock-breeding. These people cremated their dead.
Scandinavian Vikings began visiting West Lithuania from the VII century, and occasionally attempted to levy tributes on the native tribes. Most conflicts occurred with the Curonians, another warlike tribe, who were both farmers and sea voyagers. The Curonian tribe lived on the shore of the Baltic Sea in a strip, running between Klaipeda and Ventspils. The Vikings made an unsuccessful attack on the Apuole Castle in Skuodas region in the year 853. This locale was to be the first specific place in Lithuania to be named in historical annals. The Curonian tribe moved to the depths of the land after the X century. Their custom was to provide their dead with numerous weapons, such as swords, spearheads and axes, and plentiful ornaments, such as bracelets and brooches. The goods were cremated with the body of the deceased, and then buried in flat burial grounds. Villages of the Semigallian tribe were located in North Lithuania and South Latvia to the east of the Curonian tribe. The rich soils of their lands provided the Semigallians with surplus of agricultural products, which they traded with their neighbours. Their dead were not cremated, and buried in rows. A short one-edged sword, several spears, a good many bronze ornaments, including headbands and pins, and farming tools were included in a grave. The Samogitians, who lived to the southwest of the Curonians in the Samogitia Heights, left behind the primary type of burial grounds, where they would include numerous ornaments and work tools. This peaceful tribe of people, who were surrounded on all sides by other of the tribes of Balts, had a habit of including a horse’s head and feet in their graves. Another tribe of Balts, the Scalvians, lived to the south of the Curonians at the Lower Nemunas River. The heritage they left behind were burial grounds of cremated remains, containing numerous burial items. These burial grounds had occasional graves of riding horses. This fact indicates that this tribe had flourished at the time. They were engaged not only in farming, but also in trading, and were known to have robbed their neighbours.
Similar processes involving differentiation of wealth were occurring amongst all the tribes of Balts during the end of the first millennium. Social layers of the military elite were forming alongside the tribal leaders, and the class of merchants and craftsmen appeared. The extraction of iron and consequent iron works, along with jewellery making, flourished. Tribal territories also shifted. Local centres, the first embryonic beginnings of future lands, began developing. This type of process was occurring most rapidly in West Lithuania. The Curonians, who were West Balts, began joining into land confederations from the beginning of the IX century. These were the beginnings of future nations. The designation of these people was to provide defence from the Vikings, who were attacking from the seashores. Wooden castles began being built and reinforced for defence purposes. Wulfstan, a traveller during the end of the IX century, made note that there were numerous castles of dukes, warring amongst each other, and highly valued riding stallions in the nation of the Aestii. Such occurrences began being noted in East Lithuania during the X century, due to the effort to stave off the pressure on Baltic lands coming from Kiev, then part of Russia. The Polish state had formed, and began pressuring the Jatvingians in the X century. The first Christian missionaries began to arrive on the western territories of the Balts during the X century, as well. This was the first evidence of the future to come for the Balts. They were destined to become well acquainted with Christian civilisation.
Vilnius

Vilnius was in the centre of the Lithuanian ethnic regions during the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and it was the axis around which the life of the state revolved. The role of the city today has not changed. Vilnius is the heart of the nation, the centre of economy, culture and politics, and the capital of finance.
The great intensity of social life in Vilnius is due to the location of the country’s administrative institutions, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices.
It is in Vilnius County where the geographical centre of Europe is located, as well as the ancient capital Trakai and the legendary capital Kernave. Here important economic and political interests of both the East and the West are focused. The best theatres and orchestras, the richest libraries and the most exiting festivals are also to be found in Vilnius, its suburbs and environs.
The county has highly developed branches of industry: mechanical engineering, and metal working, chemistry and pharmaceutics, electronics, power, building materials, furniture, paper, food, light industry, and others. A great scientific, technical and manufacturing potential is concentrated here and there is a highly skilled labour force. In addition, the potential for tourism has not been exhausted
Vilnius, the state capital and most important of the county’s towns, is the main link between Lithuania and the rest of the world. Here reside the president, seimas (parliament), government and supreme court, as well as many diplomatic offices, banks, and institutions of education, science, health and culture. With its remarkable architecture, cultural monuments, romantic alleyways, and maze of courtyards, the Old Town of Vilnius, symbolising Lithuania’s history and present, has been included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage monuments.
Vilnius is in a very important and convenient location between East and West. It is at a cross-roads of political, economic and cultural interests, a place where people of various nationalities and confessions peacefully coexist.
Vilnius deserves special interest from business people. Those who doubt this can wait, but they risk “missing the boat.” For those who believe in Vilnius’ future and know how to make it brighter, a place awaits then at the negotiation table.
Vilnius was in the centre of the Lithuanian ethnic regions during the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and it was the axis around which the life of the state revolved. The role of the city today has not changed. Vilnius is the heart of the nation, the centre of economy, culture and politics, and the capital of finance.
The great intensity of social life in Vilnius is due to the location of the country’s administrative institutions, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices.
It is in Vilnius County where the geographical centre of Europe is located, as well as the ancient capital Trakai and the legendary capital Kernave. Here important economic and political interests of both the East and the West are focused. The best theatres and orchestras, the richest libraries and the most exiting festivals are also to be found in Vilnius, its suburbs and environs.
The county has highly developed branches of industry: mechanical engineering, and metal working, chemistry and pharmaceutics, electronics, power, building materials, furniture, paper, food, light industry, and others. A great scientific, technical and manufacturing potential is concentrated here and there is a highly skilled labour force. In addition, the potential for tourism has not been exhausted.

Kaunas

The lands of the Kaunas County have been considered the most important ones in Lithuania for a long time. Not just because the soil is the best here, the farmers are the most inventive, the industrialists are the brightest, and the tradesmen are the most gifted. This can be found all over Lithuania. But only the residents of Kaunas and Samogitians can be proud of the fact that no occupant could find peace here during all wars and occupations. The wish for freedom, the faculty of using it, the dignity, the keeping of national interests, the wish to communicate and co-operate with representatives of other nations, who are well disposed towards our country, are the most characteristic features of the people of our county.
Mechanical engineering, and device production, metal working, chemical, building materials, textile and knitwear, paper and printing, furniture, glass and food industries are developed. There are many natural and cultural values, which interest lovers of cognitive tourism. The infrastructure of serving them is being rapidly developed. Cultural life is active. Some of the significant events are the Pazaislis musical festival, international festival of young musicians, and jazz festivals.
The communication with neighbouring countries via automobile highways, railroads, and by aeroplanes is convenient.
Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania, which has always been striving to be a leader. For years Kaunas has been a major centre of the nation’s spiritual resistance and struggle for national identity. For twenty years Kaunas was a provisional capital.
Kaunas has 9 schools of higher education (together with their branches), 20 research institutes and establishments. Cultural life of the city is led by 26 libraries, 7 professional theatres, 10 amateur theatres, 20 folk ensembles and a great variety of other art groups. Kaunas is famous for sportsmen.
Kaunas is an important transport centre with two intersecting transport axes. One of them connects Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the countries lying to the south. This is Via Baltica road. The other comes from the East and goes as far as Klaipeda city. This factor facilitates creating a free economic zone (LEZ) and encouraging investment. Tere are plans to build a railway line of the European standard reaching Kaunas, consequently, major motorways, waterways, airways and railways would intersect in Kaunas

Klaipėda

Our county is the only one in Lithuania which borders the Baltic Sea. This has defined the way of life for the local population. Klaipeda County has an ice-free seaport, clean beaches, recreation centre complexes, the largest body of fresh water, the unique landscape of the Nemunas Delta and Couronian Spit, flooded fields, forests and fertile farming land.
Important industries include ship building and repair, construction materials, furniture, cellulose, textiles, food products, tobacco, and sea transport. It is expected that future economic development may be significantly influenced by the free economic zone.
Good roads and a motorway connect Klaipeda with Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and with other countries. The modern ferry port and Palanga Airport provide connections to other Baltic Sea countries.
Klaipeda County is developing into one of the main areas for industry, farming, forestry, holidaymaking and tourism.
Klaipeda is probably the fastest growing centre of industry and transport in the Baltic states. The ice-free port guarantees a successful bridge between the East and the West. There is a good infrastructure for overland transport. The importance of Klaipeda as an international transport centre should increase even more.
Klaipeda was founded in 1252, and it is different from other Lithuanian cities because of its old and rich history, and its architecture, characteristic of the cities of Western Europe. Klaipeda University has become a centre for new ideas in the research of history, politics and culture. From a provincial Soviet city with many military bases, Klaipeda has become an industrial centre and a city of summer holidays and festivals.
Utena

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, Utena, the administrative centre of the region and the county, is rapidly developing. This is where Northeast Lithuania’s major food, construction and light industries may be found. In the entire country it would be difficult to find a man who has not tasted Utena beer, nor a woman who is indifferent to Utena knitwear.
Landscape is not well suited to the needs of intensive agriculture, and our region is not noted for fertile soils. Nevertheless, even under these conditions our agricultural workers know how to provide the food industry with produce of the highest quality. The reputation of our region’s horse breeders and equestrians has spread beyond the country’s borders.
We have a well planned road network and a branch railway which links to a railway line of international importance. These provide favourable conditions for the growth of enterprises. Our huge forests and more than 200 lakes famed for their clean water are suitable for tourism, relaxation and agrotourism. Our land is a region of good prospects, and these prospects will soon bear fruit.

My town – Švenčionys

History

Since ancient times, Shvenchionys has been the heart of Nalshia Region. The 13th century annals mentioned Nalshia, the historical land of Eastern Lithuanians, together with Deltuva, Lietuva and Upyte comprising Aukshtaitija Ethnographic region. The origin of the name of Shvenchionys is somewhat puzzling: sacred woods might have existed here; sacred waters might have flowed here. Legends about this area are still told today. One legend associates the name of Shvenchionys with sacred woods that existed here. The old name of the location was Shventenai. Pagan priests are said to have lived here and a fire burned continuously for religious ceremonies. The center of the region, Shvenchionys, like Vilnius, is an ancient settlement established on the crossroads leading from Prussia to Russia. All of the legends mention that Shvenchionys was once a big city. Three important trade roads led to the city, along which many merchants from Polock, Vitebsk and even more distant places would travel to the sea. During the times of Vytautas the Great, Shvenchionys was his estate. In the 15th century, Vytautas brought Tartars to Shvenchionys and its environs. Their descendants were skillful craftsmen, making the town a crafts center in the Middle Ages. According to some church documents of 1514, the first church in Shvenchionys was built by Lithuania’s grand duke: Vytautas the Great during the years 1392-1414. In 1636, a new wooden church was built and later rebuilt several times. In 1898, a new stone church was built. Russian general K.Chechovichius, resident of Shvenchionys, funded the decoration of its main altar. In 1486 Shvenchionys was called a township in historical documents; eight years later Shvenchionys county was mentioned. In 1565 Shvenchionys was one of the three court centers in the county of Ashmena. Until the end of Lithuania’s existence in the Lithuanian-Polish union, the region was called Uzneris district with Shvenchionys being the center. At the end of the 18th century there was a post station and a parish school which had 28 pupils in 1828. The Shvenchionys township belonged to Admiral Chichiagov, and in 1837 it was purchased from him, and started to develop according to town regulations. In that year Shvenchionys had 223 residences, a church, a Russian-Orthodox church, 2 synagogues, 30 shops, and 34 taverns. This data shows that Shvenchionys was quickly developing in the eastern ethnographical region as an important administrative, economic and cultural center. Other centers of economic and cultural life began to develop in the Shvenchionys area. Since the 17th century, Kaltanenai has been known as a township. In 1633, a church and a Franciscan monastery were built here. The monastery was closed in 1832 and a 2 year school was established next to it in 1794. In 1807, the school had 30 pupils. In 1795, when the Lithuanian – Polish union was finally partitioned and Lithuania was occupied by Russia, Vilnius governship formed Uzhneris district with its center in Shvenchionys. In 1843, it was called Shvenchionys district. The 19th century was very dramatic; full of social, political and ethnic conflicts; both for the Shvenchionys area and the whole of Lithuania. Napoleon’s army marched back and forth this country as well as the Russian army, and Napoleon stayed in Shvenchionys to oversee the parade of his troops. Napoleon’s house stood on Vilnius St. until 1942. The events during the 1831 uprising were very stormy. The leader of the uprising, Ceikiniai Dean A. Labutis, perished in Shvenchionys in 1831 and was buried in the Shvenchionys church cemetery, and the members of the uprising were defeated. In the north-west outskirts of the town there is a hill called Gallows Hill. A story tells that the Czar’s administration used it for hanging the members of the uprising. After 1832-1864, the cruelest czarist occupation began in Shvenchionys as well as all over Lithuania: it was the time of gendarme and court repressions, prisons and exiles, colonization, persecution of Lithuanian speech and press, and russification through offices and schools by means of imposing orthodox religion. Polonization was also intensifed through the church. The national movement and the national revival process in this country were difficult but consistent and unstoppable. In the long run, a group of well educated, progressive priests joined together to awaken the national spirit and to diffuse the Lithuanian language and prohibited press. From 1884-1886, Alexander Burba, a dean from Labanoras, was a renowned public figure in the Vilnius area, and later among the Lithuanian-Americans. He, together with an active book smuggler Sexton Karolis Bauzhis, energetically revived the Lithuanian spirit, distributed Lithuanian literature and fought to discourage boozing. Among the book smugglers, researchers mention priest Placidas Sharkauskas, who, when serving as a vicor in Shvenchionys around the year 1900, transported Lithuanian publications from Prussia and distributed them together with: Adomas Mykolas Padleckis from the village of Zebalai, Stanislovas and Mykolas Vaiskunai from the village of Kurpiai, and others. In the parish Lithuanian catechisms, prayer books, brochures and newspapers were distributed. Jonas Burba (1853-1915) – famous priest, temperance advocate, press distributor and supporter of book smugglers has deserved and earned much praise in the Shvenchionys area. From 1903-1909 he was the dean in Shvenchionys and he is buried in the Kaltanenai cemetery. He fought against Polish customs in the Shvenchionys parish and together with the vicors encouraged the national spirit in the people. The question of education in the Shvenchionys area schools has always been complicated. We do not know when the first school was opened in Shvenchionys but there is information that there was a parish school in the 18th century. After the 1834 uprising, the Russians closed it and established their own district school. Before WWI, Shvenchionys had an eight-year Russian gymnasia, a four-year boys school, teacher training courses for men, a four-year school for girls and an elementary school. The Lithuanian language was not taught in those schools, although the majority of the students were local Lithuanians. The establishment of Lithuanian schools started together along with the national revival. There were some illegal schools during the years of the prohibition of Lithuanian press. Systematic care of Lithuanian schools began just before the eve of WWI and later. In 1913, in the city of Vilnius and its surrounding area, the Lithuanian educational society “Rytas” was established. Its main purposes were educating adolescents and adults, training teachers, and above all organizing and supporting Lithuanian schools. German occupants banned “Rytas” society, but later permitted it to operate. “Rytas” renewed its activities in 1917. While resisting obstacles created by German occupants, Shvenchionys patriotic intelligence joined efforts for the strengthening of Lithuanian spirit during the war. Brilliant figures A. Jurkenas, S. Lemeshis, P. Merkelis, V. Valiulis, and K. Vinciunas should be mentioned among them. Priest Benediktas Virbickas united well educated Lithuanians, established a library, held seminars for teachers the house of V. Valiulis, trained educators for the villages who were sent all over the district and also taught young people to sing and to recite poems. During the war, legal Lithuanian schools were also opened. In Shvenchioneliai, an elementary school was opened in 1915 and existed until 1924. The first truly Lithuanian school in Shvenchionys was established in 1916. During the war schools were also opened in Daukshiai, Dotenenai, Guntauninkai, Kretuonys, Motiejunai, Ragauchina, Reskutenai, N. Strunaitis, Vidutine and Voshiunai. Shvenchionys dean J. Petronis, and mathematician Zigmas Zhemaitis having returned from Russia, were encouraged and supported by “Rytas” society. They overcame German obstacles and established a Lithuanian gymnasia in Shvenchionys which was opened on January 8, 1919. After WWI, Shvenchionys district was alternately under Bolshevik, Polish or Lithuanian power. In autumn 1920, the Lithuanian army suffered casualties while fighting in Shvenchionys when the Poles attacked Vidine Street. In 1920, from October – November, the district (except for the smaller western part) was occupied by Zheligovshio troops and then illegally annexed to Poland. The Polonization and colonization of the district was carried out through both direct and indirect legal, administrative, economic and cultural means through state offices, press, schools, and churches. The Shvenchionys gymnasia that functioned in the period of 1919-1937 provided a small source of Lithuanian culture and national identity. When WWII broke out, the 50 years of occupation began. In September 1939, the Soviet Union red army invaded. At the end of the year, Shvenchionys and a large eastern part of the district were annexed to Belarussia and immediately suffered from Bolshevik, social and national terrorism. In the summer of 1940, when the USSR occupied Lithuania, Shvenchionys was given to Soviet Russia but the eastern territory of the district was left for Belarus. Hitler’s cruel occupation (1941-1944) was followed by the second Soviet invasion that lasted until 1990 – the restoration of Lithuania’s independence. Two hundred years of occupation left deep scars upon the Shvenchionys district: deeper than those left upon the rest of Lithuania.

Nature And Tourism

The Shvenchionys area is famous not for its developed industry, but for its unique and beautiful nature: blue-eyed lakes, lush green forests, the sky blue Zheimena River and old mounds including burial mounds. This is the land of ancient green forests, and blue-eyed lakes nestled between rolling hills and it seems that the sky touches the earth here. The region’s landscape and climate have priceless healing properties, and these, coupled with the region’s rich cultural heritage lend themselves to the development of tourism in this region. If you want to have an enjoyable time and relax with your family or friends, come to Shvenchionys region where you will have a perfect rest beside the pure crystal lakes of Shvenchionys region. Three percent of the region’s territory is covered by water. There are about 300 lakes starting with Kretuonu (800 hectares), finishing with the “small lake eyes” of the Labanoro forest. There are 6 islands in Kretuonu Lake. The largest island (19 hectares) is populated by several rare species of birds. Therefore Kretuono Lake has been declared as an ornithological reserve. The settlements at Kretuonys Lake are reknowned for their unique Neolithic archaeological monuments that attract archaeologists to this area. Along the region’s southern border, the Neris River flows, and from the north to the south its tributary Zheimena, into which the waters flow from the smaller Lakaja, Pershokshna and Mera streams. Both the rivers of the Zeimena basin and the lakes are known for their clear and pure water. This is why the Zheimena and its tributaries are a favorite spawning ground for salmon, trout and other fish. The hills of Shvenchionys (the highest peak in the area is Girdziuliske – 250 m) divide two large river basins: Nemunas and Dauguva. The rivers in the region’s territory originate from these basins; and due to their high position above sea level (160-170 m), the currents here flow rapidly. Water tourists traveling through Lithuania can easily reach the Baltic Sea from the very eastern point in Lithuania; not only along the Zheimena – Neris – Nemunas, but along the rivers of the Dauguva basin as well. The forests, covering 53% of the area, are the great treasure of the region. With their natural riches (mushrooms, berries, fauna) they are not pale in comparison to the Varena forest; in fact they exceed in variety and beauty. The forests are abundant with many animals: hares, foxes, wolves, elk, and roe deer and hunting lures many people here. The Adutiskio forest area has 2543 hectares allocated for commercial hunting. Most of the forests here are deciduous and untouched by civilization and attract hunters from abroad. The Labanoras, Pabrade, Baranavas and Antanai forests are well known throughout Lithuania. Much of Labanoras, the largest forest in Lithuania, is located in the Shvenchionys region. Writers such as: G. Isokas, L.Grundzinskas, Professor C. Kudaba, and naturalist K. Balevichius have written many poetic words about Labanoras. In the Labanoro forest, there are over 80 lakes and streams winding through its pine-covered hills. Here one can find many rare botanical species and the lakes, rivers and streams are the spawning grounds of rare species of fish. In order to ensure the preservation of these valuable species, reservations have been established. One of the largest is Kanis Marsh that has been declared as a botanical and a zoological reserve. The forest is famous for the Labonoro duda (bagpipe) which was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, but no longer exists. The bagpipe was made from a bull skin bag, a wooden blow piece and two wooden pipes. To this day, the people living in forest villages in the Labonoras area have preserved ancient songs, fairy-tales and serenity. There are many beautiful places in eastern Aukshtaitija. In order to preserve and promote these areas, the state has established Aukshtaitijos National Park and Labanoras, Sirveta and Asveja regional parks, which cover much of the region’s territory. One can conveniently travel through these parks by bike, on foot or by water. If you travel along these expertly prepared tourist routes, you will see many wonderful landscapes, and you will be able to develop your orientation skills. Nature has generously given beauty to the Shvenchionys district. In the green forests, and in the multicolored patterns of blooming meadows near the lakes, one can see many unique natural monuments that have been carefully preserved for generations. On a hot and sunny summer day spring “Lino verdene” will refresh and invigorate you. The water here is said to be as clear as tears and people say that this water contains miraculous healing properties. in the Shventa arbor a traveler can find shelter from the hot sun under a canopy of 26 linden trees where the queen pine tree raises its ring of branches towards the blue skies. In the Kaltenenai area, the Obelu Ragas village is famous for an ancient 13-stemmed juniper. It would be difficult to mention all of the monuments in Shvenchionys region, as each is unique, surrounded by legends and stories. In the summer time, the architectural monuments drown in sunrays amidst the green trees. It is worthwhile to visit Cirklishkis estate that stands in the middle of a park, where the buildings are reminiscent of the 18th century. The estate building, icehouse and the blacksmith’s have survived until this day. These are architectural monuments of Republican significance located about 2 km from Shvenchionys. Currently the former estate building houses classrooms of the technical school. At the beginning of the19th century, the area of Cirklishkis estate was constructed in its entirety. The owner of the estate, Domicele Selezhinskaite – one of the Mostovskiene – was among the designers. Historian Joachimas Levelis, painter Jonas Rustemas and other famous people in the cultural area were frequent guests at the estate. The Mostovskiene supported and financed the 1863 uprising and therefore were exiled to the Tobolsko region. At the end of the 19th century, Chaleckiai purchased the estate and in 1913 the owner was Vanda Chaleckiene. After the estate was used as a Soviet farm; later an agricultural-technical school was established. Next to the estate there is a park which covers an area of 35 hectares. In the park, there are many old spruce, oak and maple trees. There is also a small lake and Perkunkalnio Mound is located here. The Shvenchionys area is famous for the Labonoras church and bell fry, which are well known monuments of Republican significance. The people of Labonoras say, that in the early 19th century, the people found that the logs which had been intended for the construction of a church, had been moved to a high hill by means of some miraculous force, and Holy Mary’s picture had been hung upon a pole. In this holy place a church was built. Since those times, people have been celebrating Holy Virgin Mary’s birthday (Labanorine) on the 8th of September. This folk architecture building contains art and monuments that existed in the church and bell fry. The old residents still remember the Petrausku family: a family of musicians. In the late 19th century, Jonas Petrauskas was the organist in the Labanoras church and later was replaced by his son-composer Mikas Petrauskas. Another church worthy of mention is Strunaitis church. This church stands high upon a hill, proudly looking down at the village farmhouses and protecting the peace of the deceased across the road. Holy Virgin Mary, St. Peter and St. Paul church is a building of late classicism with elements of romanticism. It is located on the highest point in the village with its west wall facing the street. The church and its bell fry were built between 1944-1948 according to the design of architect Karolio Gregotoviciaus, and were financed by Konstantinas Moslovskis. A lot of water has flowed through the old water mills of Shvenchionys district. These eternal waters are welcomed and seen off by these water mills: Bruknyne, Strunaitis and Pakretuone. There are many architectural monuments in the Shvenchionys area. Legends have surrounded the Perkuno Kalnas mound since pagan times. Those legends tell that pagan priests lived here, a sacred fire burned, and ceremonies were performed. Strunaitis people tell legends about Akvieriskis mound, which looks impressive and picturesque. You may travel there by way of Taulaikai village, down the hill behind Varnishkis village, where you have to cross the Strunos stream. A legend tells that this is a religious mound which Napoleon’s soldiers created by soil that was poured from their caps. There are many mounds and ancient cemeteries in this area, which give evidence that this area was a favorite for ancient settlers here. Cultural and historical relics of the Shvenchionys area are housed and displayed in Nalshia and Reskutenai school museums. In 1945, the country life museum was opened. In 1992, it was renamed Nalshia museum. This name reflects the heritage of old spiritual and cultural values. The ethnic culture of this area is very specific and authentic. The museum collects exhibits of archaeology, crafts, and household tools; organizes expeditions (country study, archaeological) for collecting the exhibits, and studies the ethnological heritage. The museum telephone number (+370) 387 47644. The Reshkutenai main school public museum was opened in 1997 upon the initiative of Izadorius Kazakevichius , There are many exhibits testifying to the culture, everyday life and wisdom of the district’s ancestors. The museum has the following exhibitions: music, work tools, postage stamps, archaeological findings, weaving, church relics, partisan movements, flax and cannabis and village history. In addition, there are pre-war newspaper and magazine exhibits on display. Every year, numerous guests from neighboring regions and foreign countries visit the museum. This is merely a brief introduction to the Shvenchionys region. Dear visitors! Come to visit our wonderful land and you will find yourself in the midst of unspoiled nature, get to enjoy great virgin forests, listen to the mysterious murmur of rivers and rivulets, dive into crystal clear waters of the lakes. You will get to know the wonderful local people as well as their customs, find out about the regions’s history, hear many fascinating stories and legends and listen to the beautiful traditional songs of the region. We will receive you with hospitality and will make sure that you will want to visit our region time and time again.

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