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SAMOGITIA. PLACES OF INTEREST (SHORTLY)

A B I Y K L M N P R S T U V

A

AKMENE, town in northern Lithuania, 12 km south of the Latviai border; the population in 1959 was 1,801. Situated on the Dabikine river, the town was known by that name until the 17th century. It was originally an estate of the Kestgaila family, and is first mentioned in historical sources in 1511. The Roman Catholic Church on St.Anne built in 1595; in 1596 an elememntary school was founded under its jurisdiction. The town was burned by the Swedes during the Northern War in 1705. It was rebuilt, and granted a Magdeburg charter and coat of arms in 1792. The Siauliai-Mazeikiai railroad line passed 6 km to the southwest; the railroad station is also called Akmene, and like the town, was originally named Dabikine. The large estate of Count Zubovas, where the first congress of the Lithuanian Democratic Party took place in 1902, was located on the left bank of the Dabikine river about 3.5 km from the town. Akmene a construction materials factory, 100-bed hospital, secondary school, and library.Alsedziai Church

ALSEDZIAI, town in the province of Zemaitija (Samogitia) at the confluence of the tributary Sruoja and the Varduva river, 13 km northwest of Telsiai. The population was 1,043 in 1959 (60 in 1860; 1,102 in 1903; and 1,049 in 1923). The town has a secondary school, lybrary, twenty-five-bed hospital, and ceramic works. 5 km to the south is a lake by the same name (area, 80 ha; depth, 2,5 m), and a forest streches to the Southeast. The region is hilly and scenic.

The town of Alsedziai is first mentioned in historical chronicles in 1253, but it is known that a settlement existed on this location from a much earlier time. Archaeological discoveries on the territory of the town include a bone dagger from the Mesolithic period. After the founding of the Diocese of Samogitia, with it’s centre at Medininkai, Vytautas the Great assigned Alsedziai and a wide surrounding area to the bishop as a fief in 1421. With time the bishopric’s holdings decreased in size, but as late as 1778 they still encompassed the town of Alsedziai and Lieplauke, and approximately 9,240 ha of land with 234 peasants and their holdings.

The wooden Church of the Immaculate Conception, the first church of this name in Lithuania, was built in 1476. From then until the middle of the 19th century Alsedziai was a favourite residence of the bishops of Samogitia. In the 16th century it was the home of one of the most notable Lithuanian bishops, Merkelis Giedraitis, known as the Apostle of Samogitia. The last bishop to live in Alsedziai was Bishop-Elect John Gentila, who headed the diocese from 1844-50. He had collected a library of about 20,000 volumes there; at the time this was one of the largest and best private libraries in Lithuania. Bishop Motiejus Valancius, who became head of the diocese on 1850, chose not to reside in Alsedziai.

Under the Republic of Lithuania, Alsedziai became the township seat and belonged to the country of Telsiai. The township comprised 60 hamlets with 1,117 homesteads and 6,362 inhabitants. After World War II, Soviet occupation authorities assigned Alsedziai to the district of Plunge and made it the administrative centre of the local collective farm.

APUOLE, hamlet in the Northwest Samogitia, near the Lithuanian-Latvian border, 8 km Southeast of Skuodas; in 1959 its population was 190. The Luoba river (41km) flows the hamlet. There is a large fortress hill on the left bank of the river not far from Apuole. The hill is bounded by the Brukis creek in the south and protected by a high embankment and deep ditch on the east. A strong wooden castle once stood on the hill.

The castle is the first mentioned in the biography of St. Ansgar written by his disciple and associate St. Rimbert (or Rembert). According to him, King Olaf of Sweden attacked the Couronian fortress Apuole (Apulia) with a large army in 853. Apuole was defended by 15,000 troops for 8 days. On the ninth day the Swedes were ready to retreat, since they were unable to take the fortress, but attacked once again, where-upon the defenders of the castle asked for peace. They promised to obey the king of Sweden, to pay tribute, to give half a pound of silver for every person in the fortress, and to surrender the booty (gold and weapons) which they had recently acquired from Danish invaders. Taking 30 hostages with them to ensure that the peace would be kept, the Swedes set sail for home.

This account indicates that Apuole was well fortified, but there is no information on the subsequent history of the castle. In a treaty concerning the division of Courland, concluded between the Bishop of Riga and the Livonian Order in 1253, Apuole is listed as uncultivated land. It seems probable that the castle was destroyed and the inhabitants scattered. Much later, in documents of the 17th century, Apuole is mentioned as an elder ship in the town of Gruste. In the Republic of Lithuania (1918-40), Apuole comprised a hamlet and an estate. Under the soviet occupation after World War II, a collective farm was established there.

The castle of Apuole described by St. Rimbert began to attract attention only in the 19th century. Many attempts were made to determine its site. In Budas senoves lietuviu (The Character of the ancient Lithuanians), 1845, the historian Simonas Daukantas correctly concluded that the castle must have stood on the fortress hill of Apuole. The hill was first studied and described, however, only in 1887, by E. Volteris and J. Doring, and the first excavation was done by Volteris in 1930. Systematic excavations were conducted by the Lithuanian archaeologists Eduardas Volteris and Vladas Nagevicius and the Swedish archaeologist Birger Nerman in 1931-32. The excavations revealed four different periods in the history of the castle. From the 1st -5th centuries the first period, the hill was fortified by an embankment 1,5 m high and a wooden wall 2 m wide; these fortifications were destroyed by fire ca. 500. In the next period, the 6th and 7th centuries, the embankment was made considerably higher, and the road to the castle was paved with stones; this fortress ca. 700. Presumably, the Norsemen invaded the eastern shores of the Baltic at this tome and reaches Apuole. During the third, the 8th -9th centuries, the embankment was raised to 6. 5 m and widened to 30 m. A massive wooden wall was built of horizontally and vertically placed logs; cracks between the logs were filled in with clay. The gates were rebuilt, new roads were paved, and a water reservoir was built. The castle not have had 15,000 defenders, as St. Rimbert wrote, because the area of the hilltop is no larger than half a hectare. In the fourth period from the 10th to the 12th centuries, the castle was again rebuilt; the embankment was raised to 7. 5 m and widened to 38 m. This fortress is presumed to have stood until the beginning of the 13th century.

The archaeological excavations uncovered bronze ornaments, ceramic artefacts, weaving implements, and the remains of wooden buildings with stone fireplaces. It is surmised that there were many dwellings at the foot of the hill, perhaps even a small town. The great quantity of grain (wheat, barley, peas, and rye) found by the archaeologist leads to the conclusion that the inhabitant of Apuole were an agricultural people.

B

BARSTYCIAI. This town first grew from an estate. In 1788, near the estate’s crossword, a wooden church was built. Not far from Barstyciai, in the village of Puoke, the biggest stone in Lithuania was unearthed. Its dimensions are: length - 11,3 meters, width - 5,9 meters and height - 3,3 meters.

BELVEDERIS, former estate situated on the right bank of the Nemunas, 1 km west of Seredzius in the cBelvederis Estateentral Lithuania. The manor house was built in the classical style in the 19th century; there is a 20-ha park on the grounds. The buildings of the estate housed an agricultural school from 1921-25 and a dairy school from 1926-61. At present it is the site of an agricultural technical school.

BERZORAS, village in western Lithuania, situated on the northern shore of Berzoras lake, 2 km south of Plateliai; in 1959 its population was 189 ( 326 in 1923). The village church, a Roman Catholic church dedicated to St. Stanislavas, was built of hewn spruce logs in 1746; it is noteworthy architecturally and contains many valuable pieces of folk art. are located in the village and on the surrounding hills. In the 15th century Berzoras was site of an estate belonging to the Kesgaila, a magnate family. Since ancient times the inhabitants of the village have earned their living by selling fish caught in the nearby lakes (Plateliai, Berzoras, and Ilgis) as well as by selling berries and mushrooms picked in theadacent forests.

BETYGALA, small town on the banks of the Vievirse creek in Samogitia, approximately one km from the Dubysa river, between Ariogala (13km) and Raseiniai (16km); in 1959 the population was 454 (483 in 1841, 434 in 1934). Near the town is an old fortress hill which was the site of a noted Samogitian castle on the 13th and 14th centuries. It was often attacked by the Teutonic Knights, in whose chronicles it is called Betigal or Bytigal. The first Roman Catholic church in Betygala, the wooden Church of the St. Nicolas, was built in 1416 shortly after the conversion of Samogitia to Christianity. The present baroque church was built in 1930. From 1592-1603 Mikalojus Dauksa (q. v.) was the pastor of the parish. The town suffered severe damage during the Swedish invasion in 1706. It was later rebuilt; subsequently its population was greater than at present. During the 1863 insurrection against the Russian a number of strong rebel groups operated in the environs of Betygala. During the years of Lithuanian independence Betygala was the seat of a township which encompassed 1,546 farms with 9,573 inhabitants (1934). Soviet authorities assigned Betygala to the district of Ariogala and designed it the centre of the sub-district’s collective farms.

BIJOTAI. Signpost outside Kryzkalnis to say „To Bijotai”, which is quite close to the main road. The Baubliai - two unique huge hollowed oaks trees - are a popular attraction.
They were made by Dionizas Poska, an early - 19th-century poet and historian. In 1811, a huge oak tree, called Baublys by the villagers, died on his land (he owned a small estate).
The oak tree was believed to have witnessed old pagan rituals. Poska decided to make an unusual summer house. When the thickest part of the trunk was transported to the estate it was stood upright, a roof was put on it, and doors and windows were cut in the sides. In the new house Poska fitted out a study and arranged his collection of antiques.
The walls, doors and a table bore his epigram. Some time later another Baublys was built in a similar way.
This unusual building was widely known and attracted many visitors, even at the time. It is considered the country’s first museum, as before that the public had no access to private collections. Legend has it that Napoleon’s troops visited the museum in 1812. Having requisitioned much of the property on the estate, they showed some respect to the Baubliai: only two officers took anything.
The Baubliai, now under glass covers, still attract visitors from afar, though there is almost nothing left of the old collection.
The commemorative mounds, built in 1930, and the memorial plaque, unveiled in 1990, are signs of respect for Dionizas Poska.

I

IPILTIS (dial. Impiltis), a fortress-hill close to two hamlets of the same name (Old and New Ipiltis), between Darbenai and Kretinga. In the oldest historical records the name appears as Ampile, Ampilten, Empilten. It is mentioned for the first time in an agreement (1253) between the bishop of Courland and the Teutonic Order of Livonia to partition certain territories adjacent to the Baltic coastline. Ipiltis fell to the Teutonic Knights, but soon thereafter regained its freedom. Hermann de Wartberge reports that the Knights burned the fortress down in 1261. It is believed that it was never rebuilt. The hill which remained is surmounted on three sides by the Juodupis river. The round hill area (0.5 ha) is encircled by massive rampart 36-40 m wide and twice as high inland (8-10 m) as it is on the river side. A 3.3 m wide and 0.6 m deep ditch has been dug into the top of the rampart. In 1933-34 the hill was excavated by V.Nagevicius and J.Puzinas.
Their research showed that the rampart was constructed out of earth and gravel brought in from surrounding areas. Wood and rocks were used to built the structures. Inside the rampart charred remains of a building dating from the first centuries A.D. were found. From time to time additions were made to the rampart from the outside, so that the hill area inside would not decrease, and by the 7th century A.D. it had already reached a height of 7 m. There was also a lower rampart down in the bank of the Juodupis. A road to the fortress wound its way up the western slope through the high rampart. Instead of leading to a gate it ended in a tunnel (8 m long, 3 m wide and ca 2 m high), whose walls and ceiling were made of strong oak timber toppers off with a layer of earth. The castle-court yielded finds such as iron arrowheads, remnants of pottery, and a spiral-shaped silver fusion, which apparently was part of a hoard of silver discovered ca 1927 and divided among private persons. On the northern side of the hill there once was a settlement 5 ha in area will the name Rumsiskis.

Y

YLAKIAI

The Hill of Alka and the vanished Bareikiai. Between Sates and Ylakiai, near the village of Erksva, in the distance, the hill of Alka and the Old Cemetery. From this hill, one can enjoy a lovely view. It is sled, that here the centre of the town of Bareikiai once stood.
The town of Bareikiai existed until the 17th century. Maps of 1568 show Bareikiai occupying an area two times larger than Skuodas occupied at the time. The town contained a market and 93 houses. It is believed that inhibitions of Bareikiai founded Ylakiai after their town had been destroyed.
The village of Ylakiai first appeared in 1568. Later, between 1717-1725, the area grew into a town. The town is settled on the hill’s two rivers. The present-day brick church was built in 1894. The towns centre is its architectural monument. There, one can see a post office, library, book shop, concert hall, dispensary, restaurant, and nursing home.

K

KALTINENAI, town in western Lithuania, 37 km north from Taurage. The population in 1959 was 735 (600 in 1923). Public buildings include a small hospital, secondary school, library, saw-mill, dairy, and several small industrial plants. 10 km northwest of the town is the legendary hill of Medvegalis. In the town cemetry there is a grave and a monument of the writer Dionizas Poska (q.v.). The territory of Kaltinenai was inhabited early in the history of Samogitia. It was on the road used customarily by the Teutonic Knights in their military expeditions into Lithuania. The chronicle of Wigand von Marburg reports invasions into the Kaltinenai area in 1375 and 1389; in the latter case supposedly 400 people were killed or taken as prisoners of war. The first wooden church of St.John the Babtist was built by Vytautas the Great in 1416; later it was burned and rebuilt several times, the last time in 1886. Historical sources of the 16th century mention the estate of Klatinenai, near which the present town grew up and became a district seat. In 1702 King Augustus II gave Kaltinenai the privilege of having a market and fair. At the end of 18th century it had a county school, and in 1882 a post office. An important post road ran past Kaltinenai from Kaunas. The people of Kaltinenai actively participated in the defence of the church of Kraziai (q.v.), 17 km northwest of their town.

KARTENA, small town in nothwetern Lithuania, 15 km east from Kretinga, situated in the bend of the Minija river. The population in 1959 was 756 (620 in 1923, ca 750 in 1940). Public buildings include a small hospital (35 beds), forestry office, secondary school, library, and small industrial plants. On the left bank of the Minija there is a large fortress hill; conjecturally it was the site of a wooden castle. A hamlet and an estate are mentioned in historical sources from the 16th century. In 1611 a Presbyterian church was built, and in 1634 a Roman Catholic church was founded. A wooden belfry built in the 19th century is considered and architectural monument. In 1777 Stanislas Augustus gave the town the privileges of a market and fair. In the 19th century Kartena was owned by the Plater family of magnates. Under the Republic of Lithuania it was the township seat and belonged to the county of Kretinga. Since 1950 it has been the centre of a rural community and collective farm.

KELME, town in the west central Lithuania, 43 km southwest from Siauliai, on the left bank of the Krazante river. The population in 1959 (2,890 in 1923, 3,705 in 1940, of which 2,000 were Jews) . A great part of the town was destroyed durind World War II. After the war, 700 private and public buildings were erected.
The town has a 175-bed hospital, several secondary schools, music and commerce schools, etnographic museum, and stadium. On the outskirts of town is a small park and the old estate's hall originaly built on the 16th-18th centuries with a gate of baroque style, wich was later renovated in the classical style and achieved distinctive architectural merit.
The 1294 cronicles of the Teutonic Order cite a castel named Kymel. In the 15th century this location was a large royal domain. Kelme was a seat of one of the districts of Samogitia.
The first wooden church was built in 1416. It was taken over by Calvinists in 1596. At that time, Kelme estate was acquired by the Gruzewski family; the estate numbered over 25 villages. In 1610 the Gruzevski issued a decree for inhabitants. They were obliged to attend Protestant servises, to christen, marry and bury according to the Protestant faith, and to send their children to Protestant school. When the Roman Catholics regained their church after prolonged court proceedings, in 1615 the Gruzevski family built a new Calvinist church. Kelme grew more rapidly after a highway from Latvia (Riga) to Prussia was built across town during 1836-58. The town was renowed for its great markets and especially its horse fairs.
Under the Republic of Lithuania (1918-40), Kelme had several industrial plants and cultural institutions, including a Jewish high school which prerared students for the rabbinical vocation. There were also a home for the aged and an orphanage run by the sisters of St. Catherine. The grave of Vladas Putvinskis, founder of Sauliu Sajunga is in the cemetry of Kelme.

KESTAICIAI, village in the north-western Lithuania, 13 km Northwest of Telsiai. Its population was 104 in 1959 (132 in 1923) . The estate cited in 16th century soured belonged to the noble Kestavicius family. In 1738 Rimgaila, its new owner, presented the estate to the religious hospitals of St. Roch (Rocco) who founded a monastery and a mental hospital for the poor. When the old structures were demolished by fire, a new wooden church and hospital were built in 1820. After twenty years, in 1886 the Russian administration demanded that the bishop of Samogitia cline the church, hospital and priests' home, and that he transfer all of their properties to the Russian Orthodox church of Skuodas. Subsequently the church and other buildings were readied for demolition. Local inhabitants kept a rotation 24-hour vigil inside the church for 6 weeks, preventing the destruction of the buildings. On Nov. 19, 1886 the governor of Kaunas, Valerian Melnicky with 3 squadrons of Cossacks from Telsiai evacuated the church in a brutal manner. The more severely wounded of the local people were sent to a hospital, while the other were jailed in Telsiai. The church's altars, confessionals and pulpit were chopped to pieces, the churhyard images and Stations of the Cross were smashed. About 30 of those arrested were set free on bail at 200 rubbles. The defence of the Kestaiciai church was the first mass Lithuanian protest against the Russian governments forcefull anti-Catholic policy. Seven years later a similar but far bloodier incident occurred in Kraziai (1893).

KRAZIAI, town in central Samogitia (western Lithuania) ,between Varniai (32 km) and Raseiniai (44 km), on the Krazante river (tributary of the Dubysa) . The population in 1959 was 998; 1,613 in 1923, ca 2,000 in 1939. The town has a secondary school, mill, sawmill, mechanical shop, and a 35-bed hospital. It is a rural community and a collective farm centre. Under the Republic of Lithuania, Kraziai was the township seat of the county of Raseiniai. After World War II it was assigned to the Soviet administrative district of Kelme.
Kraziai is one of the older settlements in Samogitia. Many barrow graves and fortress hill are located in its neighbourhood. North of the town stands the Medziokalnis hill, which according to the legends was the abode of the goddess of forests, Medeine. The name of locality is first mentioned in a 1257 document of King Mindaugas, by which a part of Samogitia was assigned to the Theutonic Order. Vytautas the Great during his first years of rule ceded Samogitia to the Teutonic Order; the regent he appointed lived in Kraziai. After the battle of Tannenberg (1410), when Samogitia regained its freedom, Kraziai became the district centre.
In the 16th century Kraziai came to be ruled by the magnate family of Kesgaila, and became the seat of the elder of Samogitia. Here the Samogitian nobles held their dirtiness and assembled for inspection before going to war. With the last member of the Kesgaila family (1556), Kraziai reverted to the state, which at that time was ruled by King Sigismund Augustus. In 1559 he gave it to the English princess Catharine of Suffolk and her husband Richard Berth. They had left their own country to escape persecution. When they decided to return to England after five years, Nicholas Radvilas (Radziwill), palatine of Vilnius repaid them the same sum and took over the administration of Kraziai. at the beginning of the 19th century part of the township of Kraziai was assigned to general J. Judicki, and remainder divided among various persons.
Formerly Kraziai was a noted religious and cultural centre of Samogitia. It had a parish church, one of the first of Samogitia (1416), and two belonging to religious orders, the Jesuits (1621) and the Benedictine Sisters (1641) . The old parish church was destroyed many times by fires. The present church dates to the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1608 was established a Jesuit mission there. The college was founded in 1616, and in 1621 construction of the church was begun. The Jesuits activities were disrupted in 1773 and their church was abandoned in 1821. The Benedictine Sisters established themselves in Kraziai in 1643. Their church had been built in 1641. A new brick church was built in 1757-63. At the time that the Russian were closing down monasteries, the Benedictine Sisters were forcibly taken to Kaunas in 1893. The church was to be demolished. The local inhabitants heroically defended it against the Russian gendarmes and Cossacks. This encounter became known as the Massacre of Kraziai.
Kraziai was a centre of education for almost 200 years. The Jesuit college functioned from 1614-1773, affiliated with the Samogitian Theological Seminary until 1740. When the pope disbanded the Jesuit Order in 1773, the Carmelites of the Kolainiai friary took over the college in 1797 and administrated it for 20 years. In 1817 the Carmelites returned the school to the Educational Commission, to which it belonged since 1773. The school was under the direct supervision of the University of Vilnius, whose graduates were appointed to teach there. In 1823 it had 16 teachers and 450 students; in library 5,000 volumes. Among its students were persons who subsequently became prominent as national leaders and writers, like S. Stanevicius, D. Poska, L. Jucevicius (Jucewicz), the brothers Antanas and Jonas Juska, and A. Fromas-Guzutis. In 1842 the school with all its possessions was transferred to Kaunas.
With the loss of its cultural institutions, Kraziai became a simple village in the heart of Samogitia. The town began to grow again during the period of Lithuania independence, when a high school (1919-20) and the township administration were re-established, and later when the Kaunas-Klaipeda highway was built. The number of inhabitants increased to 2,000; after World War II it decreased by half.

KURMAICIAI, village in western, Lithuania, 5 km north of Kretinga, on the Akmena river. In 1959 it had 353 inhabitants (339 in 1923). The village is significant for its archaeological remains. Bones of mammoths, a hoard of Arabic silver coins, and a grave dating from the end of the Neolithic period were found on the bank of the Akmena. The grave contained a human skeleton which had been buried doubled up and resting on its right side; a martial, stone-boat axe typical of the Indo-Europian (Baltic) culture was next to the skull. There is exceptional significance in the barrow graves of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages in the flat inhumation graves of the 2th-4th centuries, investigated by the Culture Museum of Vytautas the Great in 1940 and by the Historical Institute of the Lithuanian Academy of Science in 1948 and 1950-51. Under examination were 10 barrow graves, 26 cremation graves, and 50 inhumation graves. Some of them are especially significant in that the cultural and ethnological continuum of the inhabitants of that area may be traced from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD
The barrows from the end of the Bronze Age and from the Early Iron Age are formed of piled up earth with stone constructions. The diameters of these barrows vary from 13-18 m to 6-8 m, and the heights range from 1.2 m to 0.6 m. Some barrows contained 1 or 2 graves, while others, up to 6 or 7. There cremation graves were also encountered. Human bones were collected in small clay urns. The urns of brownish clay belong to the early brushed pottery group, typical of the area inhabited by Lithuanians.
Important to the chronology of the early barrow graves is one designed as barrow A(13 m in diameter and 1.25 m in height). It contained 7 graves: 6 cremation and 1 inhumation. The inhumation grave contained ornaments, fragments of a thick woollen cap or other type of head covering were unearthed. The ornaments belong to the period about 500 BC
In the barrows of later period cremated remains were either poured into urns, or put into holes in the ground. The urns were encircled with stones.
From the barrow of the early Age developed level cemeteries with inhumation graves in the first centuries AD Bodies were usually buried within round stone enclosures. In two of founded graves horses were buried with their masters. Graves were plentiful in burial goods: fragments of elegant diadems, a variety of neck-rings, fibulae, and massive arm-rings. Significant work implements and weapons, sixteen Romans coins were founded there too. The majority of graves belong to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The material culture reflected by these graves is typical of the Corona and Skanlvian tribes.

KVEDARNA, town in western Lithuania, between Rietavas (22 km) and Silale (16 km). Its population in 1959 was 1,014 (950 in 1923 and 1100 in 1938). The town was burned during World War II, but has been rebuilt. Public buildings include a large dairy, a water mill, a small hospital, a secondary school and several small industrial and commercial enterprises. In independent Lithuania Kvedarna was the town ship seat with the local administrative offices; it belonged to the county of Taurage. Since 1950 it is the centre of a rural community and a collective farm belonging to the district of Silale.
In the vicinity of Kvedarna, on the left bank of the Jura river, there are traces of a fortress hill called Piliute; in all probability it was the castle that the Teutonic Order destroyed in 1319. Later historical sources mention an estate, which at the end of the 16th century belonging to the Sapieha family of magnates. The first church of the Immaculate Conception was founded by King Sigismundas Augustus in 1569; it was burned down in 1843. King Stanislas Augustus granted the Magdeburg Law to the town in 1792. From that time the town had St.Casimir on its coat of arms. During the ban on the press (1864-1904) Kvedarna was a centre of the book-smugglers (knygnesiai). Steponas Darius (q.v.), a pioneer in transatlantic flight, and Kazimieras Jaunius (q.v.), the noted Lithuanian linguist, were born in the vicinity of Kvedarna.

 L

LAUKUVA, town in western Lithuania, 43 km north of Taurage. Its population in 1959 was 1,123 (724 in 1923, ca 800 in 1940). Under the Republic of Lithuania Laukuva was the township seat in the county of Taurage. After World War II, under Soviet rule it has been made the centre of a rural community and collective farm belonging to the district of Silale. Piblic buildings include a small hospital, library, secondary school, dairy centre, mill and several small industrial plants. The Padievytis natural preserve, containing a lake, forest and fortress hill, lies some 5 km south of Laukuva. 10 km east of it the legendary hill of Medvegalis.
The territory of Laukuva (Lukowe, Liwkowo, Loukowe) is first mentioned in historical sources in the 13th century. Part of it was granted to the Teutonic Knights by the Lithuanian King Mindaugas in 1257. 16th century sources mention the estate of Laukuva, near which the present town grew up on the old trade route between Raseiniai and Rietavas. In the 18th century, a weekly open-air market and biannual fair took place in Laukuva. In the 19th century, peasant markets and fairs continued to be held, and the town had an elementary school. The population in 1841 was 399 (753 in 1897).

LENKIMAI

Not far from Lenkimai, in the small Skuodas town of Kalviai, is the birthplace of the famous Lithuanian writer, S. Daukantas (1793-1864). In another town, Veciai, the monk and botanist J. Pabreza (1771-1849) was born. The church of Lenkimai was build in 1861. In 1933 the monument to S. Daukantas was erected.

LUKSTAS, lake in western Lithuania, 2 km south of Varniai. Its area is 1,016 ha; the deepest point, 8 m. The lake is 6. 2 km long and 3. 5 km wide, with a total circumstance of 19 km. If extends from north to south. The north-western shoreline, covered by forest, is quite steep and has a wide sand-bank; the rest of the shore-line is marshy. The Sietuvas, Graduva and Domantas rivers flow into the lake and the Varnele flows out. Amber pieces have been found in the glacial deposits along its banks. The lake yields 6. 5 kg/ha of fish annually.

LYDUVENAI, small town in west central Lithuania, 15 km north of Raseiniai. Its population on 1959 was 282 (547 in 1923, 550 in 1940) . The town lies in the lower terrace of the right bank of the Dubysa river and is surrounded by woods on all sides. The railroad bridge over the Dubysa and its valley is one of the longest and highest in Lithuania. The estate of Lyduvenai is mentioned in documents of 15th century; it was owned by the Chodkiewicz (Katkevicius) family of magnates. King Sigismund Augustus granted the town the charter of the Magdeburg Law in 1558. The town expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries. The present church was built in 1764. The owner of the estate, Ezekiel Staniewicz (Stanevicius), was one of the leaders of the 1831 insurrection. The Russian government retaliated by expropriating the manor. The railroad from Siauliai to Taurage running past Lyduvenai was built by German armed forces during World War I. In the cemetery of Lyduvenai there are several barrow graves dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries and two bowl-shaped ritual stones. On the banks of the creek Lyduvele there are two fortress hills.

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MAZEIKIAI. The history of Mazeikiai does not go as far back as the oldest times, though it is known that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries this land belonged to Ceklis region which suffered a lot from the crusaders. The surrounding country still remembers the French people retreating over this land from Russia in 1812 and in 1863 when the Liepoja-Romno railway was laid.
At the crossing of the three roads from Vieksniai, Leckava and Tirksliai, one of the railway stops was located and it was named after a small farm whose master was Mazeika. This was the way how Mazeikiai was named either. H. Latvis mentioned the estate of Vindeikiai and Mazeikiai in his „Livonija’s Chronicle” at the date 1335. This statement was confirmed by A. Nikzentaitis.
In 1871, trains began running on this line, and in 1874, Mazeikiai was connected to Riga by a railway. In 1880, 19 plots of land were parcelled out for contraction of houses near the stop, and in 1895, the first streets were laid out with cobblestones. A chemist’s and other shops were opened. Small workshops appeared. Later on, Mazeikiai springs up when in 1902 a new railway station palace of brick, locomotives and repair workshops and a school for railwaymen were built. In 1907, a society Saule was founded which opened the first school. During 1901-1918, the railway station was called by name of Muravjov, and the town beheld the old name of Mazeikiai.
The I World War left its prints on our town. The banks of the river Venta resembled a battle field of between Russians and Germans in 1915. In 1915-1918, forty Lithuanians were sentenced to death by shooting by the court martial. At this place, the construction of a present St. Jesus Heart church of red brick was started in 1930 (architect V. Landsbergis-Zemkalnis). The first wooden church was built in 1904, and it was sanctified in 1905 (Priest. P. Meskauskas). Now this place is marked by a chapel pillar.
At the end of I World War, a Lithuanian committee was founded. At the same time, a Bolshevik’ board worked, too. In 1919, Bermontas, the chief of the Russian White Guards, choose Mazeikiai to be headquarters.
At the end of the same year, the central offices of the district moved to Mazeikiai, and the town acquired the rights of self -government. J. Motuzas was appointed first mayor (burgomaster). The town grew considerably during the years of independence of Lithuania. Hospitals, a bank palace, a new town hall, three working catholic churches, Jewish synagogue, Evangelic-Lutheran church, and the house for prayers of old-believers were built. During the II World War, more than a half of living blocks and industrial enterprises were destroyed or turned to ruins. Not far away from the bridge over the Venta, German Nazi shot about 4-5 thousand inhabitants. In the post-war years, a cemetery of second World War Victims was situated at this site.
Nowadays, Mazeikiai is a distinctive industrial town, according to its population it takes the eight place in Lithuania. In 1980, a refinery started working on the site of former village of Juodeikiai. There are compressing, electromechanical, furniture, making enterprises and a shoemaking factory, bakery and dairy factories and other small workshops are in the town. At the present, all industrial centres are being privatised.
Recently, new districts have appeared. They are named as follows: Kalnenu, Naftininku, Ventos and Tirksliu.
The old town is constantly changing, too. The street and public gardens are decorated by sculptors’ works. The sculptures of the poet A. Vienazindis (sculptor G. Jokubonis), the writer and pedagogue Satrijos Ragana and the first professional director of plays J. Vaickus (sculptor J. Meskelevicius) stand in the park of the old town.
One can find a more detailed description of the history of the town in the museum of the local lore.

 MEDINGENAI, village in western Lithuanian, 15 km southest of Plunge, on the Minija river. In 1959 its population was 264 (419 in 1923). Medingenai is one of the oldest localities of Samogitia, dating back to 1253. During the 14th-16th centuries it was the township seat; in 1567 the township had 3,500 inhabitants. The church of the Holy Trinity was built in 1671, renovated in 1901. Medingenai is the birthplace of the writer Marija Peckauskaite (born in 1877, pseudonym Satrijos Ragana). After World War II the Soviet authorities assigned the village to the district of Plunge and made it the administrative center of the local collective farm.

 MEDVEGALIS, moraine hill in western Lithuania, 12 km of Varniai. Its higher peak is 234 m above sea level and constitutes the highest elevation in Samogitia. The smaller peak is Southeast of the first, and it is called Pilies kalnas (Castle hill), It has two small plates of different heights. The first one (115-120) m long, 20-25 m wide) was fortified by embankments and by military installations. A smaller square was installed around 12 m lower than the first one (60 m long, 35 m wide). There were dwellings at the foot of the hill. The evidence suggests that it was an important district centre in the 13th-14th centuries.
Medvegalis castle is mentioned in historical sources in 1316. In that year the Teutonic Knights devastated the feign but could not capture the castle. A larger assault was launched in the winter of 1329, with the King of Bohemia, John of Luxembourg, and the French poet Guillaume de Machaut participating in the attack. According to some chronicles, after the inhabitants of the castle surrender, 6,000 Samogitians were baptised. Others say the number was 3,000. Werner, the grand master of the Teuthonic Order, wishes to kill those people because they fought so fiercely, but the King John forbade him. Medvegalis castle is mentioned again in 1384. In that year the commander of the Teutonic Knights, Marguard von Rashau was taken prisoner and burned. The castle and region is seldom mentioned by the chronicles after the event.

 MOSEDIS, town in nortwest Lithuania, situated on the Baruva river, between Salantai (12 km) and Skuodas (13 km). Its population 1959 was 655 (904 in 1897).
The town of Mosedis was first mentioned in the Crusaders’ written documents in 1253. When the Lithuanian state was first coming into existence, it belonged to the Ceklis district. The area had few inhibitions and much of its areas was covered with forests. In the 16th and 17th centuries, these forests began to be cut down.
The After Stone. In 1959, in Mosedis’s neighbouring village of Silale, an After Stone was found on march land. Archaeologists ascertained that this land had once been the gathering place of Lithuania’s ancient pagan peoples. Here, young virgin tended a fire which burned from the 15th to the 18th or possibly 19th centuries. The path leading to the sanctuary was made of stones. The after Stone of Silale today stands as a monument to nature, and archaeology and is a sight visited my many people.
The town gained fame during the last few decades thanks to the efforts of Doctor Vaclovas Intas. He opened the Stone Museum which consist of stones from both this region and elsewhere. Dr. V. Intas enriched the area by bringing new animals and plants to the region. Now, the towns two ponds are ornithological reservations.
The town first stood on the hill on the southern bank of the Bartuva river. In the 15th century, the settlement belonged to the Bishop of the Samogitia. In 1551, the first wooden church was build. At that time, the settlement spread to Baltic Sea and areas of current day Latvia. In 1783, the Church of St. Mykolas Archangels was built. Construction was completed in 1844 when the towers were made taller. In 1841, the town had 709 inhabitants, many of whom were Jews. In 1907 fire greatly destroyed the town. Again on June 6, 1962, fire destroyed the town’s centre. The damaged area was rebuilt with brick, and trees and greenery were painted everywhere. This area became the town’s most frequently visited spot. Now a drugstore, pub, restaurant, and dispensary operate in the town.
Saukliai Reservation. This 162 hectare nature reservation is located 3 kilometres Southwest of Mosedis. Here, people can see many stones brought by glaciers from Sweden, Finland, and from the depths of the Baltic Sea. The reservation is protected, and its scenery is reminiscent of that of the early tundra.

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NAUJOJI AKMENE, a newly developed town in northern Lithuania, 17 km northeast of Akmene, 33 km east of Mazeikiai. The impetus of its development lay in the discovery of extensive underground limestone deposits. Initial explorations were undertaken in 1929 near the village of Karpenai by the geologists Dalinkevicius, Kaveckas, Pakuckas. A commercial concern purchased a 30-ha farm and started a limestone quarry which employed about 150 people in 1934-36. A factory in Akmene converted the quarried limestone to lime. Prior to World War Ii limestone deposits suitable for making cement were discovered, but plants to built a cement were interrupted by the war. Geological exploration after the war uncovered more limestone deposits. A cement plant and workmen’s houses were built in the village of Karpenai. With the construction of the other plants adjoining the cement works, the area became the centre for production of structural materials. In 1952 Katpenai was renamed Naujoji Akmene and in 1965 designated a town, having at that time 6,500 inhabitants (12,000 in 1973). The town has a hospital, there secondary schools, an extension of the Vilnius Technological School, and a library.

NOTENAI, village in northwestern Lithuania, 9 km northeast of Salantai, with population of 703 in 1959 (ca 900 in 1940). A large water mill has been operating since 1922 on the Note river which flows through the village. In historical sources the village. In historical sources the village dates back to 1253. Later Notenai was a domain which Sigismund the Old granted to the elder of Samogitia, Kesgaila. The wooden St.Catherine’s church was built in 1789; a new church was erected in 1906-09, but was razed by the Soviets following World War II. During Lithunia’s independence the parish had a total of 1643 member.


Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial 
Board, 1998-2000
Page updated 2014.07.29 .
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