True Lithuania

Southern Sudovia: Poland’s Lithuania

Southern Sudovia is part of Poland politically but an extension of Lithuania culturally/historically. This area changed hands many times but remained in Poland after the 1920 war. Locals, however, put a great emphasis on their Lithuanian ethnicity.

A good example of that is a Prussian-Yotvingian settlement near Punsk - an atmospheric reimagination of how a prehistoric pagan Baltic village may have looked like. Constructed entirely by a single Lithuanian enthusiast over many years it has a single over-arching style which makes it even more believable (even if perhaps less authentic) than reconstructions by historians.

A small wooden castle surrounded by a ditch in the Prussian-Yotvingian complex. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The "settlement" includes a small castle, watchtowers, totems, meeting circles, sacred fires, runic inscriptions, a bridge, an archery range, political-philosophical inscriptions on behalf of the extinct Prussian and Yotvingian tribes to which the owner self-identifies. Everything is built of wood while decorations are of stone and bones. The forest is both around the settlement and inside it; nearly no modern buildings are visible from anywhere. The area is no museum, however; everything may be touched and there are well-integrated benches, WCs. Lithuanian neo-pagans even hold their celebrations there.

Punsk village (pop. ~1200, 80% Lithuanians) also has two Lithuanians-related museums and one skansen. A multitude of Lithuanian symbols on the area's walls and fences are another proof of the local feelings.

Sejny (Lithuanian: Seinai) town 23 km south of Punsk has a castle-like 19th-century former Lithuanian priest seminary, while Wigry (Lithuanian: Vygriai) hosts a massive 17th-18th centuries monastery.

The seminary of Sejny prepared many famous Lithuanian priests. Today building is used as a museum. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The main sights of Poland (Warsaw, Cracow, Torun, Gdansk) are all far away (300-800 km) and the local roads are no highways, making it impractical to combine a visit there with a Lithuanian voyage unless you plan a larger Baltic trip. The Poland's closest prime touristic place to Lithuania is the former Adolf Hitler's bunker some 170 km away.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

Click to learn more about Lithuania: Sudovia (South), The environs of Lithuania Leave a comment
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