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Panevėžys City

Panevėžys Old Town with Senvagė (Billabong) in the foreground. Behind it you may see buildings of various eras standing side by side. Panevėžys theater is in the middle. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Panevėžys (pop. 100 000) is Lithuania's 5th largest city and the largest city in Aukštaitija region. Heavily hit by the World Wars and post-war demolition Panevėžys of today is different from the city it was before the war. Only some old buildings remain amidst post-war Soviet public buildings and apartment blocks.

In the Panevėžys Old Town probably some half of the buildings are pre-1940s and the other half is newer. As they stand side-by-side or on opposite sides of the same streets it is hard to immerse yourself in that atmosphere of centuries gone-by that you could feel in Vilnius or Kaunas.

The key features of the central Panevėžys are the Senvagė (billabong), a popular "lake" for strolling around, and the triangular Laisvės square that serves as the central square of the city. A few more interesting buildings in this area include a modest church (Holy Trinity, 1808) and an old factory. Two theaters (drama and musical) are also located in the area, as is the municipality, city library, courthouse and other institutions. Trade however has largely moved to the shopping malls elsewhere.

Districts that surround the downtown are dominated by suburb-style single-story single family dwellings. The oldest among them date to 19th century when the first streets were laid in these areas, but the majority are newer, with recent homes having replaced the older ones. The majority of churches are located in those districts, including the wooden Lutheran (east of the downtown), Russian Orthodox and Old Believer churches (both west of the downtown). Among these smaller houses of worship the square castle-like tower of the Lutheran church is the most interesting feature.

Panevėžys Cathedral, south of the downtown, is the most impressive among the city‘s religious buildings. Completed in the 1920s for the newly erected diocese this nicely restored church still boasts a solemn light blue interior adorned by murals such as that of the spires of diocese‘s main churches behind its altar.

Another imposing church is the neo-gothic Saint Peter and Paul's (1885) that stands north of the downtown, beyond the Nevėžis river.

Saint Peter and Paul church north of the downtown. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The Ekranas stadium where the local football team plays is also in the near north of Panevėžys. The modern multi-purpose Cido arena with velodrome and basketball court is in the near west. Built for the Eurobasket 2011 it hosted the coveted games of Lithuanian national team and now is the home of Panevėžys basketball team as well as various events.

Beyond the low-rise districts of Panevėžys stand the Soviet apartment blocks. They are most prominent in the western and southwestern parts of the city where Panevėžys expanded in years 1945 - 1990. In the very north of the city (north of the railroad) stands a Soviet low-rise district known as Rožynas.

Panevėžys bus station is next to the Laisvės square (downtown) whereas the railroad station is in the north of the city. It is only served by infrequent Šiauliai-bound trains.

Panevėžys is the central point between Vilnius and Riga and therefore a good stop if you go this way. Babilonas real estate project covering 80 ha of territory is only 2 kilometers from the Vilnius-Riga road on the western outskirts of Panevėžys. Here are located two major shopping malls and smaller shops.

One day trip possibility is Pašiliai European bison park (30 km south of Panevėžys) where a bunch of these majestic animals live in a large enclosure and can be spectated. There is also a post-WW2 Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisan defensive installation nearby, reconstructed to help you catch a glimpse of what the life in eternal danger in the forest should have been.

Map of Panevėžys. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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