Žemaitija National Park

Žemaitija National Park was established to preserve the areas of the Žemaitija region most valuable from the natural and cultural point of view. The park lies at the watershed of three rivers: the Minija, the Bartuva and the Venta. The most valuable site is the Plateliai group of lakes with the region’s largest water body, Lake Plateliai. Most of the area is covered with relatively high hills (150-190 m). Local people have preserved their dialect, customs and characteristic features. The old cultural traditions and festivals of the Žemaitija region are fostered and revived here.

The main features of the park include the hydrographical systems of Lake Plateliai, Laumalenka and Šilinė, the wooded wetlands of Plokštinė and Rukundžiai, the Šarnelė swamp, the valleys of the rivers Babrungas and Mergupis, the marshes of Paburgė, Siberija, Pakastuva, Užpelkiai and Ertenis, and the unique ecosystems of the forests of Paplatelė, Šeirė and Pailgis and of the marshy grassland at Juodupis. The park has 12 monuments of nature, among which one of the most impressive is the Ragana (witch) ash-tree, Lithuania’s thickest ash measuring 7.2 m in diameter and 32 m in height.

 

Cultural heritage
The park boasts over 200 cultural heritage sites, of which more than 30 are archaeological monuments: traces of Stone Age settlements, mounds, altar hills and old burial grounds. The mounds in Žemaičių Kalvarija, Grigaičiai, Užpelkiai, Pučkoriai, Gegrėnai and Mikytai and the altar hills in the villages of Vilkai, Godeliai and Mikytai are the most interesting. Poles from an old bridge that once connected the town of Plateliai with the castles on the island are still to be found in Lake Plateliai.

 

The sites of great architectural value include the churches in Beržoras, Plateliai and Žemaičių Kalvarija, old farmsteads and the Babrungėnai mill. Žemaičių Kalvarija boasts a number of monuments of architecture, art, archaeology and history, of which the most important is the Stations of the Cross consisting of chapels built in the 17th century.

Other objects under protection are crosses typical of this region, small chapels and wayside shrines with sculptures of saints, which even today are put up by roads or fixed to trees here.

Museums 
The former Soviet Army nuclear missile underground launching site, built in 1962, now contains a military exhibition.

 

The granary of Plateliai Manor offers a display of Shrovetide masks, archaeological finds from Šventorkalnis and the Castle Island, and old tools and household implements, and also serves as a place for exhibitions on a permanent basis.   

 

The museum of the writer Žemaitė, established at her childhood home, offers a display of her personal belongings and literary works. The museum of the poet Vytautas Mačernis shows his tragic life and creative path.

 

The private Folk Art and Ethnographic Museum of Regina and Justinas Jonušas exhibits paintings and woodcarvings made by folk artists. The granary has been converted into a small ethnographic museum. The private art gallery and studio of Leonardas Černiauskas in the former watermill at Babrungėnai contains an exhibition of the owner’s paintings and woodcarvings and a collection of old items. Kazys Striauka’s woodcarvings can be found in the granary of his childhood home.

 

Žalioji trobelė (The Green Cottage) offers a private display of Konstantinas Bružas about Žemaičių Kalvarija.

 

Recreation
Information is available at the Plateliai Information Centre where visitors can order excursions introducing the nature, history and ethnic culture of Žemaitija.

 

The recreation areas include Plateliai, Paplatelė, Ilgis, Plokščiai and Rūdaičiai. There are nine (paid) camping sites at Lake Plateliai and other lakes. Accommodation is available at the Plokštinė Environmental Education Centre, the Dvaro svetainė inn, 14 rural tourism farmsteads, five rest houses and a holiday centre.

 

The viewpoints by Lake Plateliai afford a beautiful panorama of the lake. Vast expanses of the area can be enjoyed from the Šarnelė mound, the Mikytai altar hill and the viewpoints at Jogaudai and Paplatelė.

Visitors can walk, cycle or drive around Lake Plateliai. The length of this circular trail is about 30 km. A trip here will acquaint travellers with the values of Lake Plateliai. Guided tours can be ordered at the park’s administration.

Enthusiastic hikers will find several educational walking trails. The Šeirė trail (4.1 km) allows tourists to explore the landscape, flora and fauna characteristic of this region. The trail Giliuko ir Kaštoniuko kelionė Platelių dvaro parke (The Trip of Giliukas (acorn) and Kaštoniukas (chestnut) Around Plateliai Manor Park) (1 km) is designed for children from primary schools. The trail introduces the plants and gives tips of how people should behave in the forest. The walking and cycling Plateliai-Beržoras trail (1.5 km) presents the sites of natural and cultural heritage of the area.

 

Lake Plateliai is particularly suitable for sailing, boating, surfing, yachting and similar activities. The variety of available services ranges from scuba diving to the rent of bicycles, paddleboats and boats. The lake provides excellent conditions for fishing. Permits are issued at the Information Centre in Plateliai.

 

The park boasts good conference facilities (conference rooms, lodging and meals). Visitors can also order an ethnic gathering (songs and dances of the Žemaitija region) or learn about pagan festivals and rites.

For more information, please contact the Plateliai Visitor Centre:
Didžioji 8, LT-90420 Plateliai, Plungė dstr., LITHUANIA
Tel. +370 448 49231, Fax +370 448 49337

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