True Lithuania

Ukmergė Town

Ukmergė (population 25 000) is a town on the highway Vilnius-Panevėžys.

Destroyed by fire in the year 1877 Ukmergė was swiftly rebuilt and remains a great reminder of that era. Its two-floor homes that surround the central Kęstučio square are what have once adorned many small towns of Lithuania. North of the square is the small downtown where narrow streets still have cobbled surface and old advertisements invite to the shops of a gone-by era.

Renovated Vienuolyno street in downtown Ukmergė (next to the Holy Trinity church). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Two small but pretty Ukmergė's churches are east and west of the downtown. Eastern Saints Peter and Paul church (1820) is an interesting example of Neoclassical architecture. Western Neobysanthic Holy Trinity church was built as a Russian Orthodox church in 1869 on a ground nationalized from Catholic Piarist monastery. The church was transferred to Catholics in 1919.

Saint Peter and Paul church is a rare example of Neoclassical architecture in small towns of Lithuania. Built in 1820 it predates the great fire that ravaged the town in 1877. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

South of the main square there is a firefighter tower which is part of a local relatively dull provincial museum and may be climbed. Free views of Ukmergė downtown can be enjoyed from a hill (Piliakalnis) to the east, once crowned by a 14th-century castle. A wooden blue-and-turquoise Old Believer church (1873) is at the bottom of this hill on the banks of Šventoji river.

Old Believer church of Ukmergė and the castle hill beyond it in winter. These were the outer districts of 19th-century Ukmergė. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Among the Lithuania's largest cities in the interwar years, Ukmergė also received a fair share of investments back then, such as the Antanas Smetona gymnasium (not far away from the St. Peter and Paul church) or the "Lituania Restituta" obelisk in the main square.

Compact Ukmergė downtown is surrounded by the typical 19th-century outer districts, still consisting of detached single-family wooden dwellings in streets like Darbininkų, Kurklių or Vilkmergėlės.

Thanks to its place near the highway Ukmergė is easy to visit if you go from Vilnius to Panevėžys or Riga. While this road is new Ukmergė's position as a traffic hub is not as its main Vytauto street coincides with the historic Saint Petersburg-Kaunas-Warsaw route and lacking a bypass it is still full of traffic.

English tourist map of Ukmergė, Lithuania.

Click to learn more about Lithuania: Aukštaitija (Northeast), Towns No Comments