Rokiškis travel guide | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Rokiškis Town and Manor

Rokiškis (pop. 15 000) is among the most appealing towns of northeastern Lithuania (Aukštaitija). It is centered around a very large rectangular main Nepriklausomybės (Independence) square. The square connects the Saint Matthew church (a neo-gothic masterpiece) on its western side to an extensive 18th century Tyzenhauzai family manor in the east.

The manor consists of 16 buildings. Its main palace and the nearby servant buildings restored and housing a municipal museum. Some other buildings are still crumbling, separated from the palace by Soviet streets, but the entire complex is impressive nonetheless.

The palace of Rokiškis manor (1801). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The key exhibits of the Rokiškis manor museum includes the meticulously recreated interior of the manor building itself and the collection of Lionginas Šepka wooden sculptures. Šepka, although having lived 1907-1985, spent his life very archaically, lacking electricity. He devoted himself to the old traditional art of "Godmaking" (creating religious sculptures), however, his creations departed from the folk style and he created a style of his own, where every surface of every figure is decorated in patterns and Lithuanian words/sentences/stories, often having a secretive meaning.

1 kilometer separates the palace from the St. Matthew church, also funded by the Tyzenhauzai family (1877). The church and the palace are visible from each other through a straight urbanistic axis that consists of the 400 m long square, 400 m long Tyzenhauzų alley between two ponds and 200 m long paths of the palace garden.

A composition by Lionginas Šepka intended to adorn his brother's grave. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The church has fine exterior and equally interesting interior.

The northern and southern sides of Nepriklausomybės square are full of 19th-century buildings. Despite some modern additions, the area managed not to lose the atmosphere of an early 20th-century town center. The square is well kept with new streetlights and benches. There are two monuments in the square, the new one is for Rokiškis while the old one (built in 1928) is dedicated to the decennial of Lithuania's independence. Unlike nearly all other such monuments, it somehow survived the Soviet occupation. Depicting mythological and allegorical figures, it also has a Baltic swastika inscribed.

The western end of Nepriklausomybės square, with the Saint Matthew church and the independence decennial monument visible. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Streets immediately surrounding the square tend to have some old buildings as well, but if you wander further north or south, the magic of Rokiškis downtown will be quick to wane.

English tourist map of Rokiškis. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. Hello,

    A small town Rokiskis in northern Lithuania is interesting.
    I like your photos of Rokiskis Monar House(1801) and Nepriklausomybes Square, with St. Mathew Church and a big dome builging.
    By the way, what is name of the dome building?

    I hope more tourists will visit Rokiskis in northern Lithuania.

    Thank you.

    • The domed building is St. Joseph chapel. Under this chapel count R. Tyzenhauzas is buried. R. Tyzenhauzas was the one who funded the construction of both the church and the chapel. Tyzenhauzas family used to own the Rokiškis manor as well.

  2. Thank you for your reply.
    Your blog is very informative.
    Please keep up your True Lithuania Blog.

  3. Hello: I am from Gulliver’s Travels, Inc, in the United States. I have 3 adult passengers traveling to Lithuania in October. They will be staying in Vilnius for a few nights. Can you kindly advise the best way to travel from Vilnius to Rokiskis, and how far it is from Vilnius? Is it doable in a day? Thank you.

    • Hello, Buses go from Vilnius to Rokiškis in 3 hours one way. If using private/hired car it may be somewhat faster. So it is quite far, although possible to go there and back in one day (e.g. there is a bus ~6:50-9:55 to Rokiškis and ~17:20-20:50 back). However it may be more convenient to combine Rokiškis with some other locations in northeast Lithuania and spend more days there. Moreover, if the tourists you mention have no particular relation to Rokiškis (e.g. ancestry) there are possible day-trips more easily accesable from Vilnius (Trakai, Kaunas, Rumšiškės are all ~1 hour or less one way by bus/train).

  4. Hello: I hope that you can help me. My Paternal Grandmother was born in Rokiskis, in 1895, would you be able to direct me to some ancestry sites or public records in that area of Lithuania.

    • There are no true extensive ancestry websites for Lithuania. You may use the general ancestry websites, but they tend to be weak on Lithuania. A search may be done in the Lithuanian archives though. It is not free, however. We do provide such services.

  5. Hello, can you tell me the name of the last Count who occupied the Manor House in Rokiskis? And until what year?


    • It was Jonas Pšezdzieckis. The manor transferred to Pšezdzieckis family through marriage: in 1880, it was inherited by Marija Tyzenhauzaitė, a sister of the former count Reinoldas Tyzenhauzas, who was married to Aleksandras Pšezdzieckis. Pšezdzieckis family was of Polish origins and the Polish version of the surname is Przeździecki (however, the son of Jonas Pšezdzieckis served Lithuania during its wars of independence). When Soviets occupied Lithuania in 1940 they nationalized the manor while the counts have fled Lithuania as they would likely have been murdered otherwise.

  6. My grandfather, Isaac Joseph Glaser, and my grandmother, Jenny Meyrowitz Glaser
    emigrated from Ponidel, Lithuania around 1860 – 1890. I think they came to Ellis Island in 1902. My grandfather died in the USA in 1938. I wonder if you have any of their relatives that I can find?

    • We will send you an offer by e-mail regarding search for the relatives in the archives, if needed.

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