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Cultural heritage

All elements of cultural heritage which can be found within the Gražutė Regional Park are traces of the history of the region. Mounds and barrows recalling several centuries, manor houses and cemeteries – these are all extant witnesses of events and people who lived here, and everyone who visits the region may hear their stories.
Many years ago, the territory of the Park was inhabited by people of the Sėliai tribe. Many extant mounds, altar mounds and barrows bear witness to their lifestyle and home environment. Hollow stones and stones with markings full of mythological meaning may tell about a little different, more delicate and mystical history.
The Park has 16 individual or settlement-based mounds. Most of them are quite old, founded and inhabited in the 2nd millennium B.C., and declining in the 1st millennium B.C. Some of them enjoyed an especially long period of prosperity – until the 5th century (Sokiškės mound) or even until the 13th century (Šiukščiai mound was active up to the very period of the formation of the state of Lithuania).
Ancient Lithuanians used to bury their dead in barrows, located individually, in small groups, or in entire barrow complexes. Eastern Lithuania is rich with barrows from the Iron Age– according to 2004 data, there are around 390 groups of barrows from this period extant in Eastern Lithuania and what is now Western Belarus. The territory of Gražutė Regional Park is no exception. Most barrows lie in groups and belong to the late Iron Age (9th-12thcentury). The great number of barrows shows that there were several settlements within this territory in the Iron Age. Extant altar mounds, sacred sites and mythological stones also show that the territory was quite largely inhabited in pagan times.
Meanwhile, the architectural heritage of the region tells yet another, but somewhat later, story. The surroundings are featured by numerous former water mills, which is not surprising taking into consideration the large number of water bodies within the area. Local people tried to use water energy by building water mills and water power-plants as well (the most impressive is the former Antalieptė water power-plant). Manor houses and churches recount the history of the host families of the Giedraičiai, Rudaminai, Beganskiai, Daugėlai, Strutinskiai and Tiškevičiai. They recall the Order of Barefoot Carmelites who lived in Antalieptė, the sense of community and commitment of the people of Salakas town and its cultural representatives A. Mickevičius, Janas Rustemas, and AdomasHrebnickis who all spent their days at Dūkštas manor.
Settlements within the territory of the park may be characterised by cultural diversity. The Interwar Period here, as in other Lithuanian cities and towns, was a time of prosperity for the Jewish people and Salakas was distinguished by its Tartar community (the cemetery, which is still open, was founded near the town). The surroundings are still inhabited by the representatives of the culture of Old Believers – you may visit the open cemetery and a chapel.
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