Long gone are the days when only wealthy noblemen could travel! In fact, in the past, dukes and rulers travelled quite a lot and over long distances. To check on their estates scattered throughout Europe, counts and earls would also set out on long journeys. Understandably, most of the time, in horse-drawn coaches! There have been times when travelling was truly a noble privilege accessible to few!
Nowadays, the story is starkly different: one driven by curiosity can get to know new places easily, see and experience something new and/or exciting, rest and relax.
Sakiai (Šakiai) is great for that! Located in southwestern Lithuania, near the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad region, it invites travellers to emulate the journeys that once only well-to-do nobles could afford – visit the 17th-19th-century manors and ethnographic homesteads, so abundant in Sakiai, taste gourmet or traditional dishes that the nobles once savoured and that, now, are offered by some local homestead owners cherishing the gastronomical heritage, visit the local museums, admire the breath-taking views of the local mounds and, from atop them, the Nemunas River, Lithuania’s longest river, and taste the local wines and all the other gourmet dishes.
Others may find Sakiai charming for its incredible pristine nature – its lovers will certainly enjoy the authentic picturesque nature reserves with splashing stunning cranes and other teeming inhabitants of Mother Nature.
In a word, those who decide to visit the Sakiai region, will truly have a marvellous trip!
Emphasising the quality tourism infrastructure in Sakiai region, the municipality and its Tourism and Business Information Centre offer a variety of tourism services under the name “Noble privileges” ("Poniskos privilegijos") and visiting one of the region’s 12 well-known manors is certainly a must for a traveller here.
The most significant and the best preserved state-protected manor estates are Zypliai, Gelgaudiskis, Kiduliu and Ilguva manors. After restoration, they have been turned into alive venues offering many attractive activities, thus benefiting local businesses, which are on rise.
For those who want to get a twofer from a trip to Sakiai district – combine a manor visit and experiencing the marvels of local nature, it is advisable to start the trip from the 19th-century Zypliai manor ensemble.
The ensemble of Zypliai manor, founded in 1950, consists of 11 surviving buildings surrounded by avenues of Berlin poplars, lindens and brambles. The park covers an area of 21 hectares. The history of Zypliai manor, built by a count and brimming with grandeur of neo-baroque style, has been revived today. Since 2012, special cultural activities are organized in the restored Zyplių manor palace, excursions and educational programs are conducted, works of Lithuanian and foreign artists are exhibited, concerts, festivals, seminars are organized, attracting people from all over the world.
Since 2017, in the kitchen building of Zypliai manor that survived the centuries, the restaurant Kuchmistrai operates. Here you can get to know the nitty-gritty of the local Zanavykai, which are the subdivision of the Aukstaitija ethnographical region, cuisine, and taste the dishes prepared by perhaps the only chef in Lithuania according to haute cuisine and modern quality standards.
By the way, Sakiai is called the capital of Zanavykai.
In 2021 in the Zypliai ensemble, the first smart hotel in the region, Zyplių dvaro oficina, operating in the preserved office of the manor, opened its doors. Here, the historical spirit is combined with 4-star comfort and allows you to enjoy your stay in a country-style residence.
Another gem of the Sakiai architectural heritage treasure is the classic-style palace of Gelgaudiskis manor, which was reborn in 2012. The unique interior decoration known as German polychrome secession (Jugend) has been preserved. Located on the picturesque slope of the Nemunas River, the Gelgaudiskis manor homestead, reminiscent of the glorious past, is a national cultural heritage object. Since 2010, multifaceted cultural and educational activities have taken place here.
The manor palace is surrounded by one of the largest manor parks in Lithuania, encompassing very interesting and legendary objects: Zvaigzde, a unique element of the park, preserved since the 16th century, Asesarius's tomb, Velnio kalnas, Baronkapinės (the cemetery of the baron family, Koidels), Pakaruokliu mountain and other areas testifying to the long and rich history of Gelgaudiskis.
Not far from Gelgaudiskis, in Panemune, Kiduliu mansion shines with its red tiled roofs. It was first mentioned in the 16th century. At that time, Kiduliu manor was called a "castle" by the locals. Nowadays, restored, small, but cozy, Kiduliu manor sizzles with cultural life: there is a library, various cultural events are held here, theatrical excursions are organized, as well as festivals.
No less important, located in a wonderful place, on a high mountain on the left bank of the Nemunas River, sits Ilguva manor, reminiscing the history and culture of the region as far back as the 18th century. Currently, Ilguva manor is off tourists’ reach, yet guests are invited to take a walk in the manor park to admire the architectural elements of its decoration as well as the breath-taking views of the Nemunas River from atop the hills.
Zemoji Panemune is another visit-worthy manor. In fact, it is the oldest manor in Sakiai district. The manor is also located on the high slope of the Nemunas bank, between the two mounds of Zemoji Panemune and is surrounded by a huge orchard of apple trees.
To tell the truth, for many years, Zemoji Panemune manor was in oblivion, but thanks to the research carried out in the last couple of years, its glorious history is being revived. It is believed that the manor was founded on the site of a former Teutonic castle – the archaeological findings date back to the 14th - 17th centuries. Zemoji Panemune manor belonged to the Sapiega family, a prominent kin of the 15-17th centuries.
This is just a small part of all that Sakiai district has on the list of tourist attractions.
If you wish to visit Sakių region, please contact the Tourism and Business Information Centre of Sakiai (STVIC) and we will organize for you the most memorable, indelible trip, with all the unforgettable experiences that may make you feel as a nobleman of the region’s glorious past!
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone number: +370 637 47773