True Lithuania Sights, cities, culture, history and more

Šventoji Resort

The smaller sister of Palanga is a bit cheaper resort town with traditional orientation towards family fun. Its population is 1700.

The main Kopų street where most restaurants are located leads to an unstable pedestrian suspension bridge over Šventoji river, a local landmark known as the Monkey bridge. The hotels are located further from here.

Šventoji is known for the Soviet “tourist bases” of wooden cabins without WCs. These cabins were once owned by particular factories and used by their workers in summer. In the post-1990 era some of these cabins are available for rent. Few are renovated but many are closer to the sea than other types of accomodation.

Monkey bridge over Šventoji river connects Kopų street to the beach. Traditional Šventoji cabins and boats to rent are visible. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Šventoji was once a port and the talks of rebuilding this port never cease. The 1939 plan (drawn after Lithuania lost Klaipėda to Nazi Germany) envisioned a planned city here. Post-1990 visionaries imagine a fishing port and a yacht anchorage on the mouth of Šventoji river. All these fail to materialise and the pier of Šventoji lays abandoned.

One large project of Šventoji that was completed is its massive Roman Catholic church dedicated to Our Lady of the Seas. The 62 m tall plain tower dwarfs the town and is an example of post-independence church building boom (the construction started in 1991 and took some 20 years). The church only gets full in summer.

More unique is the Neo-pagan shrine on a hard-to-find hill in the northern part of town. Known as Žemaičių alkas (the Samogitian pagan shrine) it is the only such structure in Lithuania. It consists of a group of wooden poles, each representing a different god or godess. Between the poles there are places for holy fire (it is burned on certain pagan holidays when celebrations takes place here). This shrine was rebuilt in 1998 based on archeological finds and aims to be a reconstruction of a shrine that once stood atop Birutė hill in Palanga.

The Samogitian pagan shrine hill visible from below. To access the hill you should cross the Monkey bridge to the opposite side from the Kopų street and then go further north. Check town maps for exact place. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Unlike the other resorts of Lithuania Šventoji is almost entirely closed down outside season. You will barely be able to find anything open there in winter besides a couple of shops. Therefore if you visit not in the summer months opt for Palanga instead. Besides the season for Šventoji businesses is somewhat shorter than in Palanga.

English tourist map of Šventoji, Lithuania.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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