Burbiskis estate, Lithuania’s capital of tulips, is restored

  • 2011-05-25
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

FLOWER POWER OF LITHUANIA’S LITTLE HOLLAND: The Burbiskis estate is famous for its field of tulips and attracts tourists from around the world.

VILNIUS - The Burbiskis estate (Radviliskis district), which is situated some 20 kilometers southeast of the town of Siauliai in northern Lithuania, can provoke some associations with Holland for its visitors. The estate is famous for its tulips and water canals. Already for 11 years in a row, each first Saturday of May, tens of thousands of visitors go there for the feast of tulips. There are more than 300 sorts of tulips in the large field on that estate. This year, the feast was held on May 7 (it was visited by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Parliament Chairwoman Irena Degutiene) when, due to low temperatures, not all the tulips were blossoming yet. So, now is the best time to go.

This year the estate was almost completely renovated with money from EU funds and the Lithuanian state. In the 17th century, the estate was established by the Burba family of Lithuanian nobility. Later it was bought by another noble family, the Bazenski family. It started to flourish in the beginning of the 20th century. The estate consists of a complex of buildings, which includes such exotic constructions as a tower for owls, and a splendid park stretching throughout 28 hectares. The park has man-made lakes, with 15 islands and canals. There are 12 small bridges in the park: over those canals, as well as bridges uniting islands.

The Bazenski family was very patriotic. In the beginning of the 20th century, when Lithuania was still occupied by czarist Russia, leaders of the Lithuanian national revival movement, which lead to the re-establishment of Lithuania’s independence in 1918, visited the estate. The Lithuanian patriotism is visible in sculptures which were sculpted in 1911-1912: apart from sculptures of the Virgin Mary and lions, there are also sculptures of Vytautas the Great, the most famous ruler of the Lithuanian empire of the late Middle Ages, and Lithuania’s patriotic poet Adam Mickiewicz (or Adomas Mickevicius) in the park.

In 1940, after the Soviet military occupation of Lithuania started, the estate was nationalized and later used for the needs of Soviet agriculture. After the re-establishment of Lithuania’s independence in 1990, an offspring of the Bazenski family, living in Poland, had the right to get the estate’s ownership back, but cultural activists of the Radviliskis district managed to convince him to donate the estate to the local museum-reservation on culture of history, in exchange for the right to have two rooms in the estate for summer vacations. It was an intelligent deal for both sides because it is usually financially difficult for descendants of old aristocratic families to take care of ancient estates – this is the case in Lithuania, as well as throughout the rest of Europe. Descendants of the Bazenski family usually arrive to the Burbiskis estate not only during summer-time, but also for the feast of tulips.

On the eve of this year’s tulips’ fest, the estate managers stated that they have an idea to rent little boats to visitors, allowing them to paddle through the park. The exhibition of ancient gramophones is also worth seeing in the estate.

During the warm weather period, i.e. from April to October, the estate is open on Tuesdays-Sundays from 9:00 to 17:00. Tel.: +370 422 42 001.