Once there stood a castle on the banks of the Nemunas River, near the small town of Liskiava. The lord of this castle shot a hawk during a hunting party, which plunged into the Nemanus. The lord of the castle followed the bird into the water, never showing up anymore. His wife cried many tears, and where her tears landed, salty springs appeared.
This legend explains the name of the place (now Druskininkai), druska meaning salt in Lithuanian. Another, more plausible explanation comes from the salt-rich earth, formed when the area was under sea level 1,000's of years ago.
In 1794 the town gained the right to call itself an official health resort. It attracts visitors not only from Lithuania, but also from Russia and Poland. The town has 25,000 inhabitants and lies about 130 kilometers from Vilnius. Nearby Druskininkai you'll find one of Lithuania's wacky attractions, Gruto Parkas.
Ciurlionis Memorial Museum in Druskininkai
The greatest artist and musician of Lithuania was without any doubt Ciurlionis (Varena 1875 - Warsaw 1911). His childhood days he spent in Druskininkai. The town's considered to be his spiritual home. Ciurlionis wrote for piano, composed string quartets, and wrote the first symphony of Lithuania, In The Forest.
His musical style shifted between the pastoral and romantic, sometimes to Serialism. Besides musician, Ciurlionis was a painter too. He was one of the early organizers of the first exhibition of Lithuanian art in Vilnius in 1907.
Ciurlionis was a conductor, a prominent member of the Lithuanian independent movement and a designer of stained glass. He married the writer Sofija Kymantaite and died near Warsaw of pneumonia. Now one can find a museum at the place of his former home, a traditional wooden Lithuanian house. There are piano concerts in the weekends of the summer-season.
|Address||Ciurlionio gatve 35, Druskininkai, Lithuania|
|Telephone||+370 313 511 31|
|Open||Daily 11:00 - 17:00|
Jacques Lipchitz Memorial Museum
Žako Lipšico memorialinio muziejaus
Born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, Druskininkai's most notable Jew was without doubt the Cubist sculptor known internationally as Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973).
This small museum dedicated to his memory is closed for a large part of the year, but if enough noise is made in the right direction (the museum is part of the Jewish National Museum), it's possible to have a look inside.
|Address||Šv. Jokūbo gatve 17, Druskininkai|
|Telephone||+370 313 560 77|
You might think that everything there's to see and do in Druskininkai takes place under a roof. Not so. For those looking for a literal breath of fresh air, the town and surrounding region can accommodate in plenty of ways. The starting point is in one of the parks or gardens, enjoyable on foot or with the help of two wheels.
Several cycle tours, each divided into different lengths for different abilities and tastes, take you on a pleasant journey around lakes and through forests.
The small Meilės Sala (Love Island) on the Nemunas to the northwest of the town requires a boat or a bracing swim to reach it. This is more than worth the effort if you're looking for a little isolation. Between the wars when the Nemunas formed the border between Lithuania and Poland, a barbed wire fence split the little island in two.
Although no records remain on whether the Lithuanians used their half or not, the Poles continued to visit in droves over a footbridge that unfortunately no longer remains. The would lie down on the southern beach a few meters away from a country they were at war with.
Gruto Parkas near Druskininkai
Not far from Druskininkai you'll find one of those weird Lithuanian attractions, Gruto Parkas. If you ever wondered what happened with all those statues from Lenin, Stalin and other "Soviet heroes", don't look any further.
A local business person collected the statues and putted them on display in this park. Besides, there are some examples of soviet propaganda material, soviet art and old soviet buildings like schools and watchtowers.
For the little ones there is a small zoo and good local food is available in the restaurant on the park.
|Address||Grūto k., Druskininkų r, Lithuania|
|Telephone||+370 313 555 11|
|Open||Daily 09:00 - 20:00|