Maps from the “Nieman cycle guide” book (2004)
Zapyškis – Šilinė
Vilkija –12,5– Seredžius –10– Veliuona –11– Raudonė –11,5- Šilinė –4–Skirsnemunė –9– Jurbarkas
In the historical sources, Vilkija is mentioned from 1430 09 22. In 1450, the documents of Gdansk’s traders mention Vilkija’s customhouse, the first in Lithuania, by the way. The customhouse stimulated Vilkija’s growth. At this time, not only water, but also a land trading road form Vilnius to Karaliaučius went through Vilkija. In the 16 cent., Vilkija’s district was formed; it became the estate of a grand duke. Later, Vilkija acquired the rights of a town. Even form afar, on a high Nemunas’ shore, you could see two redbrick towers of the neogothic church of St. Jurgis.
There is an interesting mound called the hill of Palemon, where the Roman grand duke Palemon, who fled from Neronas’s persecution in the 1st century AC, is buried. This legend is mentioned in the chronicles of Lithuania. Contemporary historians think that there stood a castle of Pieštvė on a hill that defended itself from the crusaders in 1293 – 1363. On a small hill, there is the estate of Seredžius. 1 km to the west of the town, there stands XIX century classical Belveder’s palace.
The river Nemunas used to be the nature’s border with the Prussian lands, where already in the 13 cent., the crusaders’ order was established. Wanting to defend themselves from the attackers, the Lithuanians built castles. One of those castles was the castle of Viliuona that stood on a mound where the rivers Nemunas and Viliuona joint. Now, this mound is called the grave of Gediminas. In 1337, the crusaders had built their own castle there, called Bajerburg. It was supposed to help them destroy Viliuona and open up the ways to the land’s depth. It stood on the hills of Pilaičiai, to the West from Viliuona. Even nowadays you could see those little hills for centuries having polished by the floods caused by Nemunas. In 1412, Vytautas built a new stone castle in Viliuona on a mound that is called the Castle Rock and that is in the West from the mound of Gediminas’ grave. During the late centuries, Viliuona used to be a quiet developing town that, in 1500, was granted the rights to be called Madgeburg. A monument of renaissance culture – built in 1636-1644 the church of St. Maria’s ascendance to heavens (rebuilt in 1887 and 1930). The estate of Viliuona, the monument of classical architecture of the beginning of the 19 cent., is the former Viluina’s farmstead with a park containing some rare species of trees; among them is the only in Lithuania the yellow tulip-tree.
The castle is situated on the high shore of Nemunas hidden between the trees.
The construction of its representative rooms has started in around the year 1604 by a forest trader J.Eperjesas, who moved from Hungary, and finished in about 1610. Žemaitija noblemen Geldaugai bought the castle in 1759 and rebuilt it in their way. It acquired some classical features. The castle and Galdaugai’s wealth got into the property of czar’s Russia’s treasury. In 1867, it became ruled over by a lord named Puslovkis. In 1925, the castle was sold in the auction. During the times of the World War II, it was harshly damaged and, in time, fell in at all.
During 1961-1962, the castle was reconstructed and its surrounding and the cascade system of the ponds were restored. On his trip along the Nemunas river in 1903, a famous Russian painter N.Rerich painted the castle.
After the battle of Žalgiris in 1410, the trade increased and the Nemunas’ feudists started getting rich very quickly. One of them, K.Kirsensteinas, even built a residence in Raudonė, which is now considered a civil building of the early renaissance of our country. However, up to these days, the walls of the first rooms had greatly changed. In the 18 cent., Raudonė got into the hands of Olendskiai. This renaissance castle ensemble with a closed yard turned into a castle with an open one. Around 1810, Olendskiai sold the castle to the earl P.Zubov who later reconstructed the interior. Zubov’s daughter Sofia rebuilt the castle again in 1854-1877, and it acquired neogothic featured. This very version of it we see today.
During the times of Nazis, it was severely damaged. In 1965, it was restored and added to a school. The castle is surrounded by an old park that has many unique species of trees, such as the Siberian fir, the cedar pine, and the gray walnut. The oak of Gediminas is one of the park’s sights.
The small museum is established in Šilinė’s reconstructed inn. It is interesting due to the modern concept that represents the mode of life and crafts of the old time near Nemunas’ inhabitants. Because the museum is designed, first of all, for the new generator, its exhibits are not decaying behind the glass, but rather allowed to be touched, taken into hands and tested. Here also established Nemunas region RP infocentre.
The park stretches along both shores of Nemunas (there are also 72 small rivers). The most picturesque valleys with the impressive gullies are near the rivers Armena, Kartupis, Nyka, and Nykutė. On dry slopes, there are some unique warm-liking plant communities left. In Gelgaudiškės Park, there grows the thickest pine-tree in Lithuania. Especially rich and interesting is the cultural heritage. It was discussed earlier describing the park settlements of Veliuona, Seredžiai, Raudonė, and Panemunė. Very interesting is the park settlement Plokščiai separated by the river-street.
- Veliuona castle;
- Belvederis castle and park, Seredžius;
- Raudonė castle and mill, castle tower;
- Cafe “Dubysa”, Seredžius, tel.
- Cafe, Veliuona,
- Romo and Eimanto Zaleckai homestead, Padubysis village, Vilkija,
- V.Kringelienės homestead, Klausučių village., Seredžius,
- J.Ramonienės homestead, Papiškių v., Veliuona, S.Balsevičiaus homestead, Raudonė,
- I.Kazakevičienės homestead, Raudonė,
- Raudonė castle, Raudonė,
- Panemunės regional park, S.Dariaus ir S.Girėno str. 98, Jurbarkas,