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Panevezys is a region and a city, located to the central/north and of Lithuania. It is halfway between Vilnius the capital of Lithuania and Riga the capital of Latvia, which makes it strategy and geographically important.
The city was first mentioned in 1503 when Grand Duke of Lithuania granted permission to build a church and other structures. Its name means ‘ along the Nevezis’ as it was built on the old plain of the river Nevezis. After the Industrial Revolution and mainly due to its location, it became an area used for many types of industries and by the 20th Century it had become an economic and cultural centre for the region. An example of this was in 1905 when Juozas Masiullis opened the first Book Shop in Lithuania, which remains there today as a landmark to him.
In 1923 approximately 36% of the population were Jewish. One of them was Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahanean, who set-up a student body of young Talmund scholars. He managed to escape before the German Troops could capture him and his work is carried on in Israel today.
The German Army occupied Panevezys and again due to its strategic location, they used it as a ‘district centre’. After WW2 the region continued to grow as an industrial area, with new companies establishing businesses and factories there.
There are a number of interesting venues to visit, such as the Museum of Ethnography which has many interesting artefacts of historical and cultural heritage. The Art Gallery, Photography Gallery and International Ceramic Symposia (which has the largest collection of ceramics in the Baltic Region).There are also many churches and religious buildings including; St Peters and St Paul’s Church, lords Resurrection Orthodox Church, Church of the Holy Spirit and the most popular The Cathedral of Christ The King.
Unique to Panevezys is the Puppet Wagon Theatre which is the only one in Europe. Antanas Markuckis the Director was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson International Prize in 2003. This is a great place for kids, but also brings out the child in all who go there.
Another interesting place to visit is Glasremis, which is a Glass Factory and Gallery. It is amazing to see the craftsmanship involved in making the glass ware and the collection of pieces is absolutely breath taking.
One of the largest buildings in the city is the Cido Arena, where many events are held throughout the year and once held the European Basketball Championship.
The Panevezys EXPO, which runs from the 28th to 30th Sept 2015 is being held there and has 30,000 people attending from all types of business, services, industries and crafts. Panevezys already have several Scandinavian partners who run successful companies in the region, but they want to welcome new businesses from around the world to see what this region has to over (for more information contact The Chamber of Commerce – www.ccic.lt).
The central feature of Panevezys is Senvage Lake and surrounding park. There are several pieces of art, monuments, walkways, play areas and seating. It is also the location for several outdoor events that are held throughout the year, which is one of the reasons that in 2014 Panevezys was declared the Capital of Culture for Lithuania.
The advantage of visiting Panevezys is that it gives access to so many others fantastic destinations in Lithuania and even Latvia.
Aukstaitija Narrow Gauge Railway is an open air museum and now tourist attraction as transport links were extremely important to the expansion of Panevezys and the whole of Lithuania.
The Pasiliai European Bison Park, which is a 50 hectares territory of forest and reservoir, is near to the city. Also nearby is a WW2 Lithuanian Anti Soviet Defence Installation, which shows the lengths the local people went to in attempts to protect themselves from the invading forces.
Birzai region is famous for its beer making and there are many educational and social tours of the 4 Breweries located there. For beer drinkers it is a must, learning about the whole brewing process is excellent and the tasting is even better?
The Krekenava Regional Park, positioned on the River Nevezis covers over 11,000 hectares of stunning landscape. It has a natural ecosystem of valleys, forests, plains and water ways. There are rare plants, trees, vegetation, marsh land and a variety of animals, birds and fish. Whether you walk, cycle or take to the water to see all that the park has to offer, it is a great day.
The Hill Of Crosses, located near Siauliai, has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuania and is a unique collection of over 400,000 crosses and was visited by Pope John Paul II, who declared it ‘ a place of hope, peace, love and sacrifice’.
Vilnius the capital city is under 90 minutes away and is a beautiful historic but modern city. It’s contradictions are its charm. Churches, architecture, cobbled streets, history, culture and all with a modern twist. It would be a missed opportunity not to visit there, even if just for the day.
A couple of hours away from Panevezys, but defiantly worth consideration is Rundale Palace. It is situated just over the border, in Latvia, but due to the countries close relationship, there is no problem in making the crossing. It is the most beautiful palace in The Baltics and some say Europe. The Palace itself is stunning with its Staterooms, Halls, Gallery’s, Dukes and Duchess Apartments. Some people don’t go there for the palace, they go there for the magnificent gardens. There are no words that could do them justice, as their magnificence is only matched by their size.
Panevezys is; a city, a region, a central point, a tourist destination and a location for new business, but also an example of how Lithuanian people have persevered through very difficult times. Visit Panevezys, so you can experience and understand the history, cultural and hardworking traditions that made Lithuania the way it is today!