Acquaintance with the Kretinga district
TOURIST ROUTE 1 Along the historical routes of the Kretinga region
Length of the route – about 85 km.
Let us start the route from the town of Kretinga (1). Here we can walk in the town center – the Town Hall square, which is embellished with a monument of Independence (sculptor Robertas Antinis), a monument for Jonas Karolis Chodkevičius (architect Adomas Skiesgelas), and next to the square there is an Evangelical Lutheran Church that was built during 1896-1899. Kretinga is distinguished by a huge complex of buildings of the Franciscan order monastery and the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary church. Since the church has been rebuilt several times, it has the architectural features of the Gothic, Renaissance and other styles. The exhibits of the Kretinga museum picturesquely tell the rich history of this region. The interior was restored in the museum halls at the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th century. Exotic plants from southern countries bloom all year round in the Winter garden – a glazed three-storey conservatory. A café situated in the garden invites its visitors to enjoy the incredible environment, music, chatter of the waterfall, and delicious food. Romantic travelers may go for a walk in the huge museum park, dream at the stone of Love, or count time with the help of an astronomic calendar with a sun clock.
After admiring the town of Kretinga, we head for Kartena (2), which is about 15 km away. The town is situated in a picturesque valley alongside the Minija river and it will fascinate every visitor with its landscape, revealing the swirls of Lithuanian history, which dates back to 1253. Let’s also visit the manor place of Gintarai, wich is called Cherry mountain, Saint Mother Mary’s Assumption church, and the nearby Abakai Lourdes grotto.
Having gotten an eyeful of Kartena, let us go towards Salantai. About 10 km away from Kartena, we will arrive at the village of Nasrėnai (3), where a famous Lithuanian bishop, public figure and writer, Motiejus Valančius, was born and grew up. Let’s stop in the native homestead of this great person, where the Motiejus Valančius homeland museum was established, and not miss an opportunity to get better acquainted with his life and activity.
From the village of Nasrėnai we will go further toward Salantai. 3 km away from Nasrėnai there is the village of Kalnalis (4). Here on a hill, there is a cozy wooden church, St. Lawrence’s, where Bishop Motiejus Valančius was once christened. We may also climb up into a 15-meter high observation tower, from which the magnificent panorama of the Salantai Regional Park can be seen.
About 6 km away from Kalnalis, we will be welcomed by the town of Salantai (5). There are two adornments to attract the eye: the Salantai Blessed Virgin Mary Assumption Church and a chapel on the hill of Rooster. This church is one of the most beautiful neo-gothic style sanctuaries in Lithuania, its interior is decorated with an ensemble of five altars, and there are plenty of pictures of the saints. Not far from the church there is a chapel of Rooster, which attracts visitors with its wooden shutters and graceful tower reaching towards the sky.
Salantai is also distinguished by the homestead of the sculptor Kazimieras Orvidas, located 3 km away in the village of Gargždelė (6), which is now attended to by Palmyra and Liudvikas Beniušiai. This homestead-museum under the open sky surprises people with its interesting exhibits – old oaks put upside-down, sculptures or stones put on tall stumps and logs, etc. Visitors may also have some rest and enjoy meals in a café there.
From Salantay we go further towards Grūšlaukė (7), which is about 11 km away. Here, during the times of the Revival, St. Nepomuk’s church was built. An 18th century chapel is in the cemetery, where the famous crafters Antanas Klanius (1830-1920), Juozapas Paulauskas (1860-1945) and sculptor Antanas Mončys (1921-1993) rest in peace.
Let us go further to the town of Darbėnai, and when we arrive in Darbėnai, we turn towards Laukžemė and arrive in the village of Mažučiai (8). Here, the largest Japanese garden in Europe is being created, where visitors can walk in the park, relax and meditate. Its unique Bonsai garden is the only one in the Baltic States.
Now we return to the town of Darbėnai (9). In its center, the old market square remains, next to which there is St. Peter and Paul’s church built in 1842 during the romanticism era, an Independence monument, a crucifix for the memory of exiles, and a monument for a Salesian monk, Petras Perkumas.
From Darbėnai we go toward Kretinga and complete our trip in the village of Padvariai (10) at the “Vienkiemis” recreation and entertainment homestead. Here we will be welcomed by a Lithuanian inn, a museum of ancient household utensils, mini zoo, children’s playgrounds, tennis courts, saunas and a swimming-pool. We may also rent a pedalo or a boat and sail along the river of Akmena. And if we are there until late at night, we can also stay for the night.
TOURIST ROUTE 2 Interesting entertainment within nature
Length of the route – about 60 km.
The western part of the Kretinga region attracts visitors with its history and entertainment. Let us begin our trip from the village of Rūdaičiai (1), which is 9 km away from the town of Kretinga. People were already living there in the first century – it is distinguished by a hill-fort and other findings when the Žiba river was dammed up.
After enjoying the view from the Rūdaičiai hill-fort, let’s visit the village of Žibininkai (2) which is 5 km away, and where a huge HBH entertainment complex was established. We will have an opportunity to try homemade beer, Lithuanian cuisine, and enjoy various types of entertainment (horse riding, sports fields and playgrounds, slot machines, sauna, swimming-pool), and if we need to, we can stay there for a night.
Having enjoyed the HBH entertainment we will go westwards, where about 7 km away there is one of the oldest villages of the district – Lazdininkai (3). The history of the village is evident by its 2nd-13th century burial place, ethnographic homesteads, and the only windmill that has survived in the seaside region. Both local people and visitors come here to rest. In winter, an ice fishing competition takes place there.
After a short rest at the pond we will visit the nearby village of Mažučiai (4) and will go for a walk in a Japanese style garden and enjoy the open garden of Japanese plants. Tea houses and ponds with bridges and cascades can also be found there.
Later we will head for the village of Laukžemė (5) and visit the church of St. Andrew the Apostle, which, together with its belfry, is an object of cultural heritage. A manor house, a basement and a barn have remained in the Laukžemė manor.
Going north-east along the border with Latvia, we will reach Senoji Įpiltis (6) which is famous for its hill-forts. Here we will find one of the most beautiful and impressive hill-forts of Samogitia and a mythological Altar stone, under which there are water springs, which people have used to cure diseases since the old days. There is also a chapel on a remote sacrifice hill, where pagans used to burn a sacred fire.
From Senoji Įpiltis we return towards Darbėnai and through the village of Benaičiai (7), where the Benaičiai wind power park is situated. We will climb on a huge mythological stone, called “Kūlių bobelė”, which is wrapped in a number of legends.
We will reach the final point of our trip 10 km away – the town of Darbėnai (8), which was once famous for huge markets. The town has preserved the St. Peter and Paul’s church built by the Tiškevičiai counts, a chapel, and a radial plan of streets made in the beginning of the 20th century.
From Darbėnai we return to Kretinga town (9).