South-Eastern Lithuania with Dieveniškės loop
(It is necessary to have an identity document with you when going here)
Even if you are a Lithuanian resident or a foreigner traveling to this area, you need to have an identity document with you, even without crossing the state border. We will travel in an extraordinary place – it is surrounded on all sides by the lands of the Republic of Belarus, and connected to the state of Lithuania by a small patch of land, sometimes called Dieveniškės loop or appendix.
This area is said to have occurred by chance. When in 1939, while drawing the borders of the Vilnius region returned to Lithuania in the Kremlin, the pipe of the leader of the Soviet Union Juzef Stalin lay on the map. No one has dared to move it, so they have defined the state border line as it is today.
This area is unique. Even the landscape is different – there was no last icing here, so the country is fascinating with its sloping hillsides, wide river valleys and light soils. Ancient street villages stretching for several kilometers are lively and unexposed. They are quite densely built up, there are no single farms, so there are no rural tourism homesteads here. This is a border area, where you will rarely meet a non-resident. Usually everyone here knows each other.
We will start the tour from the largest city of this region – Šalčininkai, where we will be met by a brick building from the 18th century. St. Jackus Chapel. We will guess what the buildings of Vilnius Cathedral and City Hall have in common with it. About the piety, this coat of arms also speaks of the city’s coat of arms, in which you will see two crucified St. Peter’s keys. And why are they two – let’s leave a little intrigue. The nuts on the coat of arms will indicate the unity of the various peoples living here. We will admire the monuments standing in the center of Šalčininkai to the poet Adomas Mickevičius and the leader of the uprising Kostas Kalinauskas (just pay attention to the language in which their names and surnames are written).
We will also visit the graves of our ancestors buried according to the ancient Baltic faith – the Stakai burial mound. It consists of about 50 burial mounds, which is the largest in the region.
We will also visit Dieveniškės the wooden church of the Virgin Mary of the Rosary, which was built in the 18th century. Before the appearance of this shrine, there was an even older church in its place. It is believed that the Grand Duchess of Lithuania, Queen of Poland Barbora Radvilaitė, could have prayed in it at the time when she was still married to Albert Goštautas, who ruled a large part of the estates.
We will visit Grybiškės oak, which is famous not only for its age, but also for growing the largest Lithuanian boletus in its shade, which is now proud of the Lithuanian record book.
We cannot imagine traveling around this area without a mysterious Renaissance Norviliškės Castle, which faces the Lithuanian-Belarusian border and seems to protect our country. Norviliškės Castle itself, the gate tower and the defensive tower once formed a typical closed defensive castle system with a compact courtyard in the center. This is a rare example of such a complex of the Renaissance period not only in Lithuania, but also in Europe. Here you will find the owner of the castle Pilėnas and an adventurous medieval lunch that will leave indelible impressions.