Anykščiai

Perhaps even most Lithuanians do not know that in 2007 Anykščiai was declared to be a resort territory. This legendary town is not only famous for growing up classic Lithuanian writers whose novels and poems are well known even for first grade schoolchildren, but the town is also filling a gap of recreational services in North Lithuania as Lithuanian resorts are scattered in a very salutatory way in Lithuania. A little bit more than 11 600 local inhabitants have created a well developed infrastructure of entertainments, activities and recreation here.

History

According to archeological researches, Anykščiai was already inhabited since 9000 years before our era. For the first time Anykščiai is mentioned in 1440 as a mansion of Lithuanian grand duke Kazimieras. In 1452 the first wooden church was built here in Anykščiai. Then the settlement was ruled by an owner of Anykščiai mansion and by a local parson. They both differed with each other and that weakened Anykščiai town a lot. Until the 19th century Anykščiai suffered several disasters. Two times Anykščiai church was burnt, the town was troubled with risings and ructions. Only in the 19th century Anykščiai started developing fast.  There were a stone church with a bell tower and 2 synagogues erected. In 1831 Anykščiai became a part of treasury of Russian Empire. In 1898 a railway called “Siaurukas” (The Narrow) was stretched, in 1902 a hydroelectric power station here was opened, in 1909 a new church of neo gothic style built. In 1926 here a wine company “Anykščių vynas”  (Anykščiai wine) was established. This is the oldest company producing wine in Eastern Baltic region.

Nowadays

Because of some tough historical periods many architecturally valuable buildings in Anykščiai vanished off the face of the earth. The Old town only preserved its` planned structure, there are also church of St. Mat Apostle and Evangelist, old cemetery, orthodox church of St. Alexander, museums of famous Lithuanian litterateurs A. Vienuolis and A. Baranauskas located. There is also a well known Pinewood of Anykščiai which was beautifully described in one of the best known lithuanian poems by A. Baranauskas “Anykščių šilelis” (Pinewood of Anykščiai). In the famous pinewood there is a walking course of 5 km lenght called “Path of Pinewood” located which ends with the most famous stone in Lithuania called Puntukas. According to a legend , Puntukas was brought here by an evil. It weights 265 tones. On the stone there portraitures of famous Lithuanian pilots Darius and Girėnas, who flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1933, but tragically died when less than the tenth of the whole way back home left, are carved. Portraits of these pilots are now seen on a banknote of 10 litas.  Anykščiai is very famous for its museums. Lithuanians are very interested in unique homelands of famous writers who lived and created here. These writers like A. Baranauskas, A. Vienuolis, J. Biliūnas are included into literature programs of secondary schools in Lithuania. Everybody who can read in Lithuania knows legendary sad novels about the old dog Brisius shot by his own master deep in forest and about poor kitty desperately killed by playing boy. What is more there is the only one in Lithuania Horse museum. There implements of farming , smithery and transportation are exposed as well as educational crafting programs are held. Activities here are also well developed. There the only one summer sledge course available on Kalita hill is located. The same hill becomes a nice skiing run in winter too. Another activities here available are kayaking, horse riding and shooting. It would be a sin not to mention a possibility to taste local wines and dainties as there is a program called “Wine way” available including both – interesting excursion and degustation. All this is available in Anykščiai town, but if visitors would widen their view they could also admire picturesque purlieus of the town that are rich in decorations of local craftsmen, historical mounds and typical old Lithuanian villages.

As one of famous legends created by J. Biliūnas say „never look back if you want to reach your purpose“ (Novel „Laimės žiburys“ (The Light of Happiness)) it is obvious that Anykščiai inhabitants have never done that for sure. They reached their purpose to become a resorts town, they reached their purpose to create a unique infrastructure of summer and winter entertainments (The summer sledge course won the first prize in nomination of the best project in Lithuanian tourism infrastructure in 2009). Anykščiai is a small, but a very promising Lithuanian town where diligent and creative people live.