Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lithuania - Kernavė

A 17th-century wooden chapel. The foundation of the first Vytautas Church in Kernavė. The Kernavė church of the Holy Virgin Mary Škaplierinė. The chapel of the Ruseckas-Riomeris family.

Sent by Inga, a postcrosser from Lithuania.

This is from Wikipedia : Kernavė was a medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and today is a tourist attraction and an archeological site (population 318, 1999). It is located in the Širvintos district municipality located in southeast Lithuania. A Lithuanian state cultural reserve was established in Kernavė in 2003.

Kernavė is situated near the bend of the Neris and the Pajauta valley, next to the area of historic hillfort mounds, piliakalnis.

Kernavė is situated on the right bank of the river Neris, on the upper Neris terrace 21 kilometers (13 mi) from Širvintos and 35 kilometers (22 mi) from Vilnius. It is close to the Vilnius-Kaunas (18 km or 11 mi) and Vilnius-Panevėžys (17 km or 11 mi) highways. It is possible to travel to Kernavė from Vilnius by the river Neris.

Kernavė is at the center of one of the Lithuanian districts. The southern part of the town borders on a nature reservation.

The area of Kernavė was sparingly inhabited at the end of the Paleolithic era, with the number of settlements significantly increasing in the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras.

The town was first mentioned in 1279, when, as the capital of the Grand Duke Traidenis, it was besieged by the Teutonic Knights. In 1390, during the Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392), the knights burned the town and its buildings in the Pajauta valley, including the castle. After this raid, the town wasn't rebuilt, and the remaining residents moved to the top of the hill instead of staying in the valley.

In later years, the remains of city were covered with an alluvial earth layer, that formed wet peat. It preserved most of the relics intact, and it is a treasure trove for archaeologists, leading some to call Kernavė the "Troy of Lithuania". For example, Kernavė has the oldest known medgrinda, a secret underwater road paved with wood. The road was used for defense and dates from the 4–7th centuries.

The site became the subject of wider interest again in the middle of 19th century, when a romantic writer, Feliks Bernatowicz, depicted the area in his novel "Pojata, córka Lizdejki" ("Pojata, Daughter of Lizdejki", Warsaw, 1826). The hillforts were soon excavated by the Tyszkiewicz brothers and then by Władysław Syrokomla (1859). After World War II, the excavation works were restarted by Vilnius University in 1979, and then again by the Lithuanian Institute of History between 1980–1983. The State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė was created in 2003.

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