Beautiful Nemunas gorge | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Nemunas Valley Road and its Castles

Nemunas Valley road is arguably the most scenic road in Lithuania. It traces Nemunas, Lithuania's largest river, running in its valley.

The road is famous for its castles and manors that can be visited en-route. These buildings were used as opulent residences rather than defensive structures but their impressive towers and strong walls may be deceptive. Only a couple kilometers from Kaunas limits is Raudondvaris with its castle-like red brick manor, built in the 16th-17th centuries.

Raudonė Castle. The main tower may be ascended. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Further on you will pass Raudonė, a castle with a 33,5 m fairy-tale-like gothic tower. It was originally built in the late 16th century and rebuilt after suffering heavy damage in World War 2.

Finally, there is the Renaissance Panemunė castle. Dating to 1604 it now houses a museum and you may climb its mighty towers. The castle is being restored, the surrounding park still providing a nice stroll even after heavy damages done by the Soviets.

Panemunė Castle, also known as Vytėnai Castle, Gelgaudai Castle and Zamkus Castle in different eras. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

There used to be far more castles next to this road - this is evident by many "empty" castle hills. These could still be climbed, offering great views of Nemunas and the road (e.g. the Seredžius Castle Hill).

There are other things to see on the Panemunė road. The scenery is nice and the surrounding towns are pretty. The towns in the Nemunas valley closer to Kaunas, such as Vilkija, are built on several terraces.

In the western reaches of the road (beyond Skirsnemunė) you enter Lithuania Minor. These areas were once ruled by the Germans and this is still visible in architecture. The largest town in the area is Šilutė, where you can make a detour to Nemunas delta if the approach roads are not submerged by the waters of Nemunas river (as happens every spring, but you may use a special tractor ferry).

Beyond Šilutė the road continues to Klaipėda, therefore making the Nemunas Valley road a slower yet more interesting alternative for Kaunas-Klaipėda or Vilnius-Klaipėda route by car.

By the way, the Skirsnemuniškiai town that you pass here is famous for having the longest name among the Lithuanian single-word placenames (16 letters).

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