Settled on the bank of the Nevėžis River, Panevėžys city (pop. 116.3 thousand) was founded by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander, when by the letter, dated 7 September 1503, he donated these lands to the church, which had to fight against pagan religion that was prospering at the time.Panevėžys is located halfway between two Baltic capitals, Vilnius (130 km) and Riga (150 km). The Via Baltica International Highway runs through the city on its way going to feed into the trans-European thoroughfare system. Railroads lead to Klaipėda in the West and to the many cities in the East.
The river Nevėžis which is the sixth longest river in Lithuania gave its name to the city itself. Senvagė (the Old River Bed) is considered the symbol of Panevėžys and is a famous place for leisure time and festival.
Places of interest
One can find attractive and mysterious places in every city. A guest in Panevėžys will really find some places to admire. One will feel the individuality and comfort of the city. Interesting fact to mention is that the inhabitants of Panevėžys were the oldest pagans in Europe. In 1414 when whole Lithuania had already been baptized, altar was burning and the priests were making sacrifices to the old Lithuanian Gods in the present place of the Old River Bed. Many details of the city have connections with the past. The past and the present verge in the center of Panevėžys.
Nowadays granite monument of the Great Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland Alexander overlooks in the settings of panorama of the Old River. On its palm, it gently swings St. Peter and Paul’s Church – the descendant of the oldest Christian shrine of the city.
One more trace is imprinted in the Old River Bed. Between the period of the 1st and the 2nd World Wars Panevėžys was famous for the mills.
The most favorite place for rest and various festivals is the Old River Bed - it is like a visiting card of the city, which could prove the fact that for many years Panevėžys has been a cozy and green city. Various sculptures make the Old River Bed livelier.
The building of J. Miltinis Drama Theatre is just several steps ahead from the Old River Bed. Juozas Miltinis, the legendary stage director and his students - the actors - has provided Panevėžys with the special aura and brought honor that is felt even nowaday.
The seeds of the theatre, which were put in Panevėžys several decades ago, have brought the plants of different arts. A unique Puppet Wagon Theatre visiting the remotest Lithuanian towns and villages in summer is established in the city. The Director Antanas Markuckis has been awarded a prestigious prize of a well-known Danish fairy teller H. Ch. Andersen. This prize is also known as the little Nobel prize. The visitor of the city will be curious to see the unique theatre - home of fantastic puppets. Nearby, there is a small wagon of narrow gauge railway turned into a functioning café which invites visitors for a cup of coffee and an exhibition of collected noble guests’ handprints.
Neighbouring there is theatre Menas. In front of it stands the figure of the great world dreamer and humanist Don Kichot created by the sculptor Henrikas Orakauskas. The sculpture of Don Kichot was made of copper, brass, bronze in accordance to archaic engravings. The butterflies of colored glass symbolize fragility of human being.
J.Masiulis bookshop located in the building of interesting architecture has centuries-old history connected with the name of Lithuanian book smugglers.
Close to it, the Photography Gallery is situated. It is the center of photo artists famous in Lithuania and abroad. Photo artists create interesting projects, publish the photo albums, and prepare photo albums.
At hand, there is the Art Gallery, which has accumulated treasures of ceramic works. Some of the works are presented in the exhibition. Panevėžys is often called the Mecca of ceramic artists. 129 artists from 30 countries have created in 15 symposia.
The Ethnography Museum is famous for the collection of world insects. It is one of the biggest in Lithuania.
If one is tired of arts, it is worthwhile to sit in one of the coziest cafés in Laisves square, the heart of the city. Fountains, passers-by can be watched. You can sit and listen to music in the so-called singing square for 24 hours. If you are lucky, you can listen to live music as Brass Orchestra Garsas rather frequently organizes various projects in the open air.
The best way of getting to know Panevėžys is to visit it. You are most welcome to a green, compact and cozy Lithuanian city.