The only Lithuanian city where trains are still moving along the railway built in the XIX c.
Anykščiai – a town established on both sides of Šventoji river valley and such a wonderful part of Lithuania, that the people who lived there created odes for it. Nature and history here have gathered so many impressive riches here that in fact a small part of the nation became like a park that can be easily seen by the naked eye, whilst it fits everything that Lithuania is attractive with. The only city in Lithuania, where trains still drive on the tracks that were built in the XIX c.
The river Šventoji, flowing through Anykščiai land, opens up the most impressive outcasts. One of the biggest lakes in the country – Rubikiai, which has 16 scattered-out islands, creates a unique labyrinth of wild nature and is easy to look at from above.
For thousands of years one of biggest boulders in Lithuania, the Puntukas rock, has lied in the Anykščiai shill. It is the only one in the world, which holds an inscribed testimony to the nation. The testimony was written by two pilots who flew over the Atlantic Ocean.
Anykščiai – the only Lithuanian city through which trains are still running on the narrow railway rails built in the XIX c. Anykščiai is also the capital of Lithuanian wine made from the local gardens’ harvest – the best-known national drink.
Antanas Žukauskas – Vienuolis Memorial House – Museum First, let us go to the A. Vieniolis St. Here, (No.2) we will see the memorial house – museum of one of the best writers of the first part of the XX c., Antanas Žukauskas – Vienuolis (1882-1957). It is a former house of city intellectuals, where the work of a pharmacist intertwined with the calling of a writer. Antanas Žukauskas – a monk, who spent almost twenty years in foreign lands, came back to his motherland in 1922, settled in Anykščiai and built a house. Here he lived until his death. A. Žukauskas – Vienuolis memorial museum is now open in this building, where you can see the authentic living and creative spaces. Exhibitions are open close by as well, uncovering this artist’s influence on the development of the Anykščiai area culture in a contemporary way. More information at: www.baranauskas.lt
Šventoji river Further on let us move towards the Šventoji river and cross the bridge – on the left bank of Šventoji is the city centre. On the left, let us stop next at the monument for the writer A. Žukauskas-Vienuolis (Sculptor P. Aleksandravičius, 1982). Behind it, on the steep Šventoji cliff stands a white-column Okuličiūtės Manor, one of the oldest buildings in Anykščiai. Šventoji river, the length of which is 246km, is titled one of the most beautiful rivers in Lithuania. Šventoji river, in the Anykščiai area, winds its way for more than 80 kilometres. It is the most picturesque part of the river with outcasts and loops of exceptional beauty. Anykšta, Elmė, Šlavė, Various, Virinta, Susiena and other streams flow into the Šventoji river. Following the Šventoji cognitive trail, which begins at the end of Vilnius St., one can admire the glories of Anykščiai regional park nature and the Anykščiai Shill.
The Observation Deck of Church of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Let’s move towards the highest church in Lithuania, St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Church can be seen from far away. It is the architectural accent of the city, the brightest dominant of the Anykščiai panorama, making an impression by both solemn architectural forms and its size. The tower has a viewing point, from which the wonderful panorama of Anykščiai area opens up. Neo-gothic red-brick Anykščiai St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Church was built in 1899-1909 (architect N. Andrejev). The first church in Anykščiai has been known since the XVI c. – it burned down during a devastating fire that took place in the city, was rebuilt and then burnt down once again. The current (fourth) St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Church, is the highest in Lithuania: the height of its towers reach 79 meters. In the tower of the church, at the height of 33 meter there is a viewing point. Climbing up 186 steps, the wonderful Anykščiai neighbourhood panorama can be observed, church history and the overview of areas can be discovered. In the summer, a monocle is present in the point, allowing one to admire further views. A meaningful ensemble with the church is formed by the space of the neighbouring Bishop’s square, the new, modern Liudvika and Stanislovas the Greats library as well as the memorial for the poet Antanas Baranauskas (Sculptor A. Sakalauskas, architect R. Krištopavičius 1993). More information at: www.amenucentras.lt
Angel museum – Sacred Art center Next to the church, at Vilnius St. 11 there is the Anykščiai arts centre, where you can find the Sacral Art Centre and the first Angel Museum of Lithuania. A collection of more than 50 valuable art pieces, a personal library and an archive passed over by long-time pastor Monsignor Albertas Talačka (1921–1999) is stored and exhibited at the Anykščiai Sacral Art Centre. The first Angel Museum of Lithuania and Eastern Europe opened its doors in 2010, in this Art center. Beatričė Kleizaitė-Vasaris, a well-known public person, gifted the collection of angels, which was collected by her for throughout many years and which became the foundation of the Angel Museum. The musem is also home to angels created by folk and contemporary artists.
Narrow Gauge Railway Museum of Anykščiai Another interesting travel object, located at Vilties St. 2 is the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum. The narrow gauge is a 750 mm wide railway, which in the first part of XX c. was the main way of transport. Currently, the purpose of the only operating technical and architectural object in Lithuania of this type is to serve the means of the tourist attractions and railway history cognition. It offers an intriguing entertainment – a ride with the famous Narrow Gauge. Organised groups and individuals are offered the following educational (cultural) journeys: “Centennial Narrow Gauge”, “Legend of the tape lake”, “Troškūnai monastery secrets”, “Anykščiai land celebrities” and others. The railway station complex has renovated buildings of the centennial station, a water tower, a spacious cobbled square and a steel bridge through Šventoji. In 2003 a modern pavilion was built to exhibit the rolling stocks, also various types of wagons were repaired and a locomotive created in Czechoslovakia in 1949 in the “Škoda” factory was brought back. The warehouse of goods exhibits travel essentials, spectacular, all-around weighing scales and other exhibits.
Šeimyniškėliai Mound Let’s come back to A. Vienuolis St. and continue the journey along J. Biliūnas St. Let’s pass the Narrow Gauge Railway and after around 2 kilometers, look out for the „Šeimyniškėlių piliakalnis 0,1” sign on the left side of the road. We will definitely not miss the sign, as a wooden castle hunter-like observation tower meets us right next to the road. Šeimyniškėliai Mound – another important part of the Anykščiai region history. The mound, also known as Voruta, stands between two valleys, through which, once upon a time, swift waters of Vorelis and Volupio rivers were flowing. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful Lithuanian mounts, attractive with its history and secrets. In the XIII-XV c., one of the biggest wooden castles in Eastern Europe stood on the mound. In the recent years, the studies of the ruins allow us to link it with the only known Castle of Mindaugas – Voruta, which has been mentioned only once in known historical sources (in the year 1251, in this castle, Mindaugas supported by the Livonian Order, defended against the Union of Dukes who fought against him).
Hill of Kalita When it comes to what else there is to see and try in Anykščiai, we can extend the journey through this part of Lithuanian land if you still have the energy and the curiosity. In the eastern outskirts of the city it is hard not to notice the tall hill – Hill of Kalita. Hill of Kalita offers exceptional activities. This tourist object is mostly famous for its summer toboggan track – it is the only activity of such type in Lithuania. You can overcome this track, which has 5 turns, a trampoline and a loop, by going at a speed of 40km/h. The track of almost 500 meters, along with the fun hills, will enrich your stay with great emotions and unforgettable experiences. Most importantly, the summer toboggan can be used in the summer and winter.
Puntukas Stone. Let us travel 6 kilometers southwest from Anykščiai shill towards the distant Landscape Reserve. Only here stands the second biggest in size Puntukas stone, the weight of which is 265 tons. Puntukas – the monument of nature, mythology and history looms on the left bank of Šventoji. The length of the stone – 6,9 m, width – 6,7 m, height – 5,7 m, the biggest horizontal volume – 21,39 m. The icebergs brought it here around 14-20 thousand years ago from Finland, during the last ice age. The Puntukas stone has engraved bas-reliefs and words of their will to the Lithuanian nation by pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas. These bas-reliefs and words were engraved by the sculptor Bronius Pundzius in 1943 within a period of 180 days.
Treetop Walking Path Opened in the summer of 2015 – a unique tourist attraction spot not only within the scope of the nation. The length of the path is 300 meters. The path rises up gradually and reaches the height of up to 21-22 meters. Visitors also have the opportunity to climb up the 36 meter tower, observe the Anykščiai shill as well as the curves of Šventoji river. The tower has an elevator. The Treetop Walking Path can be found 5 km southwest from Anykščiai, next to the Puntukas rock.
Horse Museum The cosy Horse museum awaits for us in the village of Niūroniai. Here we can see ancient carriages, shiny riding armour, a horse firefighting carriage, and even the real decoration of the city – fayeton. The Horse Museum was established in the Niūroniai village in 1978 by the agronomist professor Petras Vasinauskas (1906–1995), who himself enjoyed travelling around Lithuania by a horse-harnessed brichke. The exhibits in the museum reflect upon the significance of the horse in the Lithuanian history of agriculture and culture. These are – household appliance, tillage implements, blacksmith tools, horse-drawn vehicles. You can ride a horse, a carriage or try out the swings in the territory of the museum horses.
Archaeological findings prove that in the late Neolithic times and the Bronze age, people lived in the surrounding areas of Anykščiai. During the period of fights of swordsmen, these surroundings had a significant defensive meaning. It was even thought, that the capital of Mindaugas – Voruta, was established in the Šeimyniškėliai Mound, 2 km north from the city. Lately, this has been criticized. The Mound was established between two ravines of 100-150 m, through which the impounded Vorelis and Volupis rivers were flowing. The village that used to exist next to the Šeimyniškėliai Mound no longer remains. After the wars of swordsmen came to an end, it formed in the place where Anykščiai is now located. From that, two genesis hypotheses about the city appeared. A long time ago, there was a village at the location where Anykščiai is now, which was very convenient not only to live but to trade. Goods could be delivered to the western parts of the region as well as the seaside through Šventoji, and then Neris and Neman rivers. In the beginning of the IInd millennium, most likely there was a land trade route from Vilnius to Riga. This land trade route is mentioned in 1338, and in the XVI c. It was named “The Great Highway”. Archaeological findings prove that by the X-XIIIc, the merchants that trailed through the Anykščiai area had ties with the Russian cities. However, due to the repetitive attacks of the swordsmen, the Anykščiai settlement disappeared quite early and was restored only after the Battle of Wilkomierz. Due to this, it was only mentioned after the battle in historical writings. In the authentic documents that are known so far, Anykščiai was mentioned for the first time in 1442, i.e. 7 years after the Battle of Wilkomierz. Anykščiai was owned by the manor manager (or his deputy) and the pastor (he owned a smaller part). They had disagreements in the years 1529, 1530, 1538, 1540 and later when there were changes in not only the pastors, but the manor managers as well. This hurt the city. Anykščiai was first marked in the 1578-1580 map by M. Strubičius, which depicts the arena of Zhecpospolita war with Russia. The city is showed only on the left bank of Šventoji. In 1919 a county was established, in 1922 – wool carding and spinning workshop, in 1962 a wine workshop opened up. By 1916, a Lithuanian primary school was restored, and in 1920, a progymnasium was established. A monastery was established in 1922, and next to it – a folk school. A Jewish primary school was restored, established in 1910 m. In 1938, Anykščiai was granted city rights. During that time, they obtained the holiday village reference as well. The number of craftsmen increased, more wine was produced, but trade became smaller and poorer. Before the Second World War, around 4000 people lived in the city.
During the years of Fascist occupation, Anykščiai experienced a huge hit. A quite large number of the population were shot dead, and in 1944 both bridges were blown up, the centre and Užupis jurisdiction were destroyed. The economic activity of the city was paralyzed. Since Anykščiai were devastated by fires quite often, there were almost no valuable buildings left. The urbanistic value of the city depends on a certain plan and volumetric-spatial compositional peculiarities and typical features, original urbanistic development.