Raudondvaris Manor: A Renaissance pearl on the banks of the Nevezis River

  • 2024-06-24

Raudondvaris Manor is one of the most impressive restored monuments of Renaissance architecture in Lithuania. Historians say that the palace on the bank of the Nevezis River, near the confluence of the Nevezis and Nemunas rivers, was built in the second half of the 16th century by Vaitiekus Dzevaltauskas, an official of the Kaunas court. He chose the red color for the building, which gave the whole settlement its name.

The Most Prominent Trace: The Tiskevicius Legacy

During the restoration of Raudondvaris Manor House, remains of 15th-century masonry were discovered near the tower, suggesting that a medieval castle once stood on the site. This is why the manor house is often referred to as Raudondvaris Castle.

Raudondvaris Manor was later managed by dozens of Lithuania's most prominent nobles, including Jonas Eustachijus Kosakovskis, Janusas Radvila (it is said that Barbora Radvilaite ordered the foundations of the castle to be laid), Boguslavas Radvila, Jonas Karolis Vorlovskis, Mykolas Zabiela, Antanas Zabiela, Juzefas Zabiela, and Henrikas Kazimieras Zabiela. In 1819, the estate was acquired by the Counts Tiskevicius, who left the most striking mark in its history. They renovated the palace, built an orangery, barns, stables, and a park.

The palace was burnt down during the uprising of 1831, but the Tiskevicius, under the guidance of the famous Italian architect Laurus Cesare Anichini, rebuilt and slightly reconstructed the palace, adding new stone buildings. During the Tiskevicius era, the castle became an exquisite residence and a cultural and artistic center. The library housed about 10-20 thousand books and manuscripts from the 16th and 17th centuries, along with extensive collections of paintings, artworks, and exotic plants and animals.

A Ruthless Age

The geopolitical situation brought changes: in the first year of World War I, the manor house was used as the headquarters of the German Oberost. Arnold Zweig, a famous writer who served there, wrote a historical novel about those times, “Einsetzung eines Königs.”

Later, the palace served as an orphanage run by the Lithuanian Women's Committee for several years. The situation worsened at the end of World War II when retreating Germans destroyed the palace and the orangery. During the Soviet era, the manor housed the Lithuanian Institute of Agricultural Mechanisation and Electrification, and the stables were used as a mechanization workshop.

The Motto for the Present Day

In 2008, the Raudondvaris Manor ensemble officially became a cultural monument. The Municipality of Kaunas District took over the site and began managing it. With support from the EU Structural Funds, several projects were implemented: renovation of the castle and its tower, refurbishment of the icehouse and former horse farm, and landscaping.

In 2018, the prestigious European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) awarded the public institution managing Raudondvaris Manor an Aphrodite sculpture and a diploma for the project "Refurbishment of the Raudondvaris Manor Stables and Adaptation Thereof to the Activities of the Arts Incubator."

The former icehouse is now home to the Kaunas District Tourism and Business Information Centre, while the stables house the Arts Incubator with a theater and concert hall, and a confectionery. The castle's sumptuous guest halls are used for marriage ceremonies, art exhibitions, concerts, and representative events, and are also utilized by the Kaunas District Museum. The orangery building houses a restaurant.

“All visitors to Raudondvaris Castle are greeted by the Leliwa coat of arms of the Counts of Tiskevicius and hundreds of other European families, where you can read the motto of the Tiskevicius family: 'Nec aspera terrent.' Translated from Latin, it means 'Difficulties do not intimidate',” said Snieguole Navickiene, Director of Raudondvaris Manor.

At the end of 2021, Raudondvaris Manor became a member of the Association of Castles and Museums Around the Baltic Sea, and a year later hosted the Association's international conference (the General Assembly).

Liked and appreciated

Raudondvaris Manor, revived like a phoenix, is a favorite place for the Kaunas district community and visitors. The manor's hospitality is encapsulated in the words of the traveler Ferdinand Novakovski, who said in 1857 that everyone passing through Kaunas should not forget to visit Raudondvaris, as the gates are open to all.

The public spaces of the castle are highly appreciated by dignitaries. Presidents of the three Baltic States, heads of European parliaments, and diplomats from various countries have visited. Tourists from across the country and abroad often come to explore.

Raudondvaris Manor Park hosts traditional events such as the February 16th commemoration, State Day, Kaunas District Christmas tree lighting, Family and other celebrations, artists' open-air workshops, and educational events.

The Arts Incubator hosts the Pazaislis Festival and other high-level concerts and conferences.

Raudondvaris Manor is popular and visited in all seasons and is an ideal place for photo shoots.

More: https://www.raudondvariodvaras.lt