July 6, 2012

0271 LITHUANIA (Vilnius) - Kernavė, the cradle of Lithuania (UNESCO WHS)

Today, July 6, is Statehood Day in Lithuania, a public holiday to commemorate the coronation in 1253 of Mindaugas as the first and only King of Lithuania. This day is officially celebrated since 1991, i.e. since the first year after the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania. Today also would have started the 14th International Festival of Experimental Archaeology "Days of Live Archaeology in Kernavė", which was canceled "due to financial and technical circumstances".

During the previous editions, visitors they had the opportunity to become acquainted with re-created crafts and lifestyle of prehistoric period and the Early Middle Ages, more precisely they had the chance to chop off pieces of flint, to throw and to burn out a clay pot, to mint a coin, to shoot the bow, but also to listen archaic music, and to taste some ancient Lithuanian dishes. Didn't lack, of course, the epoch costumes and medieval fights.

Why just in Kernavė, a settlement with only slightly more than 300 inhabitants, located on the banks of the river Neris? Because Kernavė is the cradle of Lithuania, the first capital of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, before Trakai and Vilnius. The town was first mentioned in 1279 (in the Livonian Chronicle and the Herman Vartberg Chronicle), when, as the capital of the Grand Duke Traidenis, it was besieged by the Teutonic Knights. In 1390, during the Lithuanian Civil War, the knights burned the town and the castle, which weren't ever rebuilt, the inhabitants migrating from the Pajauta Valley and started settling on the upper terrace.

In later years, the remains of the city were covered with an alluvial earth layer, that formed wet peat and preserved intact the relics. Kernavė has also the oldest known medgrinda, a secret underwater road, paved with wood, used for defense and dates from the 4–7th centuries. The site was subject of interest since the middle of 19th century, and since then took place many excavation works, which revealed that the first settlers appeared in this territory in 9th-8th millennium BC. In 2003 was created The State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė, and in 2004 Kernavė Archaeological Site (Cultural Reserve of Kernavė) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the postard are:
• A 17th century wooden chapel - an example of folk architecture, a octagonal building with a pyramid roof, made without iron nails, from a wooden logs
• The foundation of the first Vytautas Church - built in 1420
• The Church of the Holy Virgin Mary Skaplierine - built between 1910 and 1920, in Neo-gothic style; it houses several valuable pieces of art
• The chapel of the Ruseckas-Riomeris family - an example of late classicism, built of brick in 1851-1856 by the landowner Stanisław Riomeris

About the stamp

The stamp belongs to the series The Red Book of Lithuania. Forest Fauna and Flora. Designed by I. Balakauskaite and issued on October 8, 2011, it illustrates the White-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), the largest bird of prey breeding in Lithuania.

Kernavė - Wikipedia
Kernavė - UNESCO official website
Kernavė - Official website
Kernavė - Lithuanian2010Wiki
White-tailed eagle stamp - Ukrafil.com

sender: Vaida Velutyte (direct swap)
sent from Utena (Aukštaitija / Lithuania), on 19.03.2012
Photo: Sigitas Platukis

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting blog. Greetings from Aukštaitija. ;)