Alytus is the largest city of Southern Lithuania and the sixth largest cities of Lithuania. Abundant with forests and verdurous hills, Alytus is divided by a 16 km winding of the Nemunas River. The lands of Alytus are spread on both banks of the Nemunas River. The river divides the town into right bank town (The First Alytus) and the left bank town (The Second Alytus).
It is said that Alytus is named after the runlet of Nemunas, Alytupis.
|The Angel of Freedom Monument in Alytus|
Alytus was first mentioned in written historical chronicles in 1377. In 1581 Alytus was granted the Magdeburg rights by the privilege of the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Steponas Batoras.
In the 19th century Alytus town became a fortress with three barracks and three bridges.
In the 20th century, when Lithuania gained independence, Alytus became the cultural and educational centre of the Dzūkija region. In 1932 the city was declared a resort. Only few old buildings remain these days, because during World War II the citxy centre was almost completely destroyed.
Nowadays, Alytus is proud of its traditions, culture, impressive and unique landscape and its hospitable and sincere people.
The Town Garden is located in the very centre of Alytus. It is famous for its rosary, which was started in the thirties of the last century. The Town Garden continues to the Resort Park. You can find an "Angel of Freedom" monument, dedicated to the people killed for the freedom of Lithuania, between the Town Garden and the Park.
The "Angel of Freedom" monument was built for the first time in 1928 to commemorate the first decade of Lithuanian independence. The monument went through several tests of nature and history: in 1934 it was struck and broken down by lightning (restored three years later). Later, in the fifties, the Angel of Freedom was pulled down again for political reasons. In 1991, the statue was again restored.
In the square of Alytus town garden stands a memorial called "Quiet Bell" dedicated for commemoration of the nation's torment. It gathers all memory symbols of nation's resistance battles in one place. The memorial is designed to honour state prisoners and exiles, partisans of the Dainava district as well as Lithuanian army rebels of June 22-28, 1941.
The Youth Park is located amongst springy brooks and it is distinct from other parks with its metal plastic sculptures composition.
Close to the Youth Park, going down A. Jonyno street towards Kauno street, on a little hill on the left the sculpture "Youth", built in 1992, proudly looks at the town.
The Likiskiai Park is one of the newest in the town, established in 1994. There is the highest hill (165 m) in Alytus and a wonderful view of the town opens from the peaks of this hill.
In the very centre of Alytus, at the crossing of Ligoninės and Vilniaus streets, in 1994 a sculpture of ancient Baltic god Patrimpas was erected.
The stone "Normandia-Nemunas" in the 1st Alytus next to the crossing of Miškininkai and Lakūnai streets is designed to commemorate the legendary French squadron "Normandia-Nemunas". In the summer of 1944 the French regiment based in Alytus airfield, from where French pilots with Russian fighter planes fought in the air with Nazi bombers and chased the retreating army.
The hundreds of years old Alytus Mound is the witness of the town foundation. It is a historical and cultural monument and today there is a display of sculptures called Ancestors of Alytus Mound at the bottom of it. There are lots of legends telling about the mound.
Going down Vidzgirio street towards Pulko street on the left Jewish genocide cemetery can be found. During the Word War II, when Alytus was occupied by the Nazi army, Jewish people were shot in Vidzgiris forest and buried in common graves. According to written sources, mostly people from the east of the former Soviet Union and Czech Republic were killed here. On March 18, 1993, the reconstructed memorial, designed for Jewish victims, was unveiled in Vidzgiris forest.
Several churches from different ages can be found in Alytus. Among them the St. Louis's Church (built in 1524), the St. Guardian Angels' Church (built in 1830) and the Alytus Synagogue, built in the beginning of the 20 century, operated until the Word War II.
The Museum of Ethnography was established in 1928 on the initiative of the city intelligentsia. Today it contains more than 65,000 artefacts - historical, ethnographical and archaeological material, brought to the funds of the museum from all the southern regions of Lithuania. It offers permanent and variable expositions.