Updated 2006-03-17

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Utena and Environs

The grass snake outside Vyzuonos - pagan memorial

Utena is the countryís fourth city, a town like any other, which hasnít been flooded by any renovation waves.

My trips to Utena have been limited. I have mostly been travelling in the countryside around. The Vyzuonos and Uzpaliai villages have contributed to most of the pictures on this page, as well as Kartuviu hill, hiding so many horrible memories. We looked at the holy spring of Krokule, drank it, slopped around in it and made ourselves muddy.

This is the lowest level. Click the images to enlarge!

Utena, the City
Wedding Hill
The Boat Church
The Square Church
  LY1PM, ham radio station
Krokuleís spring
Uzpaliai Church
The Fire Station
  The Church
The grass snake, The road cross
Sculpture park


General info about Utena, which, I willingly declare, I am not finished with yet. The most interesting visit was perhaps a rustic fire station in Vyzuonos, in what was previously the liquor factory of a large farm. That machinery was unfortunately gone.

Utena big street

Utena Big street No, this is no party-town.

Utena, sun wheel

A street corner is adorned by a Sun wheel. Beside it is a statue of Basanavicius. Every city has a Basanavicius Street.

Utena, flying bronze lady

Lady flying out of a wall. Statue on the telephone company wall.

Utena, mid-city idyll

Just a little walk away from the big street (above) and suddenly you hit the idyllic countryside.

Utena, mid-city idyll

Itís just like walking into a book by Astrid Lindgren, like seeing a small Swedish village...

Utena, mid-city idyll

some 70 years ago, before everything was made uglier by cement sheeting.

Utena, mid-city idyll

An old bridge over Krasuona.

Utena, mid-city idyll

Countryside, in the middle of town.

Utena, mid-city idyll

Idyllic overload.

Utena, idyll disturbed by high-risers

But you are dangerously close to the big city. Just raise the camera a bit.

Utena, country house

If you want unbroken idyll youíll have to go outside the city. Just grab some surroundings.

Utena, Utena Trikotazas factory outlet

Utenos Trikotazas, The knitwear factory in Utena is quite an interesting phenomenon as it was one of the first factories that got its steam back after independence in 1991 and started exporting big. Looking around in the factory outlet hall, one finds nametags from many of the well-known Swedish brand name fashion shops, with prices that few Swedish fashion shoppers would dream of. Instead of buying expensive clothes in Sweden, one could buy the same in Utena at a tenth of the price.
It seems stupid in general to buy a few garments in Sweden, for astronomic prices, when you can get a truckload for the same money at the market place in any Lithuanian city. The Swedes are naïve to think that they are so clever buying cheap liquor going on the ferry to Finland or travel the Øresund Bridge to Denmark. The real gain is in buying cheap clothes, which is advantageous in Lithuania. This is the entrance to their factory outlet.

Utena, The Boat Church

There had been some fighting going on over what to build on an empty lot... The result was a boat-shaped church that just has to be the most ugly church ever, well, not counting the new church in Sventoji. There is a strange likeness. Both have triangular towers. Hmm, could it be the same architect? Who didnít learn?

Utena, The Boat Church, exterior

Titanic about to run aground.

Utena, The Boat Church, wedding

The most beautiful event, a wedding, but it isnít overly beautiful... Utena, The Boat Church, wedding inside this oval brick mountain.

Utena, The Boat Church, crucifix

Is it Jesus or Batman?

Utena, The Boat Church, Christ looking out over construction site

Christ was sitting, unhappily watching the construction going on in 2004.

Utena, The Boat Church, microscopic church used during construction

While the church was being built, churchgoers had to make do with this microscopic one.

Wedding Hill, Vestuviu kalnas

Utena, Wedding Hill, the portal

All newlyweds around Utena traditionally go to the Wedding Hill outside the city to celebrate.

Utena, Wedding Hill, overview

It has a portal and a collection of wooden sculptures depicting traditional Lithuanian wedding guests.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: newlyweds

The newlyweds.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: girl with flower

A girl bringing a flower.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: girl with bread

A girl bringing the traditional bread.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: musician

A musician with his bagpipe.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: cracked man

Some figures are cracked by the weather, some with the help of an axe.

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: St. Casimir, Kazimeras

Lithuaniaís patron saint St. Casimir guarding the newlyweds and their family.

Utena, Wedding Hill, sign

Utena, Wedding Hill, figures: horseman

The Wedding Hill looks very much like Witchesí Hill in Juodkrante, although the subjects are different. Itís the same rugged style.

Ham Radio Station LY1PM

Sometimes you bump into something fantastic. LY1PM - the greatest ham shack north of Neris. I saw the beautiful antenna farm from far away when I was driving some distance from Utena: three stacked short-wave yagis in a 40-metre tower, and an extra full-size yagi in a tower nearby. ďNow, thereís a real radio amateur,Ē I thought, left the road an presented myself as Sugar Mike Zero Fox India X-ray from Stockholm, Sweden.

Utena, LY1PM, overview

That sort of talk opens doors and they showed me everything. Three stacked short-wave yagis on a rotating tower.

Utena, LY1PM, front

The three radio amateurs running the LY1PM, built antennas and had fun in general.

Utena, LY1PM, newly painted tower

Next tower to be raised, painted and nice.

Utena, LY1PM, stacked yagis from below

The yagis were home-brew, but the tower and rotators were Soviet army surplus. The yagis were fed with 1 kW in phase. The mostly worked phone, but also some RTTY and digital communication.

Utena, LY1PM, antenna rotator

The old Soviet antenna rotator close up. Two longwires made according to the cow-fence method also start here. A bundle of five coaxes carries signal to the three yagis and two VHF antennas.

Utena, LY1PM, rusty stuff

Some rusty Soviet junk. Perhaps some of it can be salvaged.

Utena, LY1PM, operating shack

The operating shack had a few Yaesu transceivers, rotor indicators, computer, the compulsory, giant, green Soviet Elektronika 7 digital clock, coffee machine, drawings of upcoming antennas and a collection of QSL cards. And a Wunderbaum.

Utena, LY1PM, tech room

The tech room was beside the shack, with instruments and component storage, and a workstation used for modelling and simulating new antennas before building them.

Utena, LY1PM, QSL cards

With an antenna farm like that, the had of course made contact with most of the world.

The Square Church

I do not have very much information about this church, so temporarily I call it The Square Church, as it is not characterised by any very slender lines.

This massive church is situated right outside Utena.

A walk through the aisle (and down)...

No wavy lines here. The rectangle seems to have been the ideal design.

The dome has a rather faded painting.

towards the altar...

There are very few decorations. Well, here is Jesus saying hello.

Left side altar.

and weíre getting closer...

Right side-altar.

The organ. Itís not big. But small...

The altar and baptismal font were rounded and absolutely polished and I couldnít help feeling ďsanitary ware.Ē

The pulpit is adorned with fantastic carvings.

A worn-in confession stand.

Stained glass, although maybe not the hottest Iíve seen.

Over the gate is a relief of the Holy family.

The memorial wall with plaques of known and unknown people who died in the great deportations. Most of them died 1945-1950, but many dates are unknown.

A thinker reflecting over 600 years of Lithuanian Christianity (1387 - 1987).

A grave close to the church. The memorial wall in the background.

The typical Lithuanian wooden crosses flock in the back yard.

On the roof between the towers a trumpeting angel sits.

This very beautiful statue of Virgin Mary stands by the parking lot, nicer than most Iíve seen.

Krokule, the Holy Spring

Krokule sounds as if taken from a book by Astrid Lindgren, but it happens to be a holy spring from medieval times that is said to have sprung forth from the rock after the Virgin Mary was seen here. The water is said to have healing properties and is very good for herbal tea.

St. Krokuleís Spring, exterior

The first thing you notice is the totem pole. Well, itís not a real totem pole...

St. Krokuleís Spring, sign

but a real old-time Lithuanian sign telling about ďSventas Krokules saltinisĒ that is, The spring of St. Krokule.

St. Krokuleís Spring, gate

As I hadnít seen a holy spring before, I was excited. Quickly, through the gates.

St. Krokuleís Spring, overview

The area is quite plain: a micro temple with an image of Christ and the spring itself.

St. Krokuleís Spring, holy water being bottled

People come from all over the country to fill large mineral water bottles.

St.†Krokuleís Spring, holy yuck on foot

Of course I had to get down to make pictures, slipped in the mud and got my foot full of holy yuck. But it was washable with standard tap-water.


If you follow Sventoji river from the main road and go past Vyzuonos, you will get to Uzpaliai, which I havenít seen too much of either, except for the church and surroundings. It is very nice inside, even if I, as mentioned before, have problems with fluorescent tubes in churches. But thatís nothing compared to the Italians who use cheap, greenish tubes. Thatís terrible.

The church in Uzpaliai, the altar

Letís be different this time and go top-down, starting at the altar...

The church in Uzpaliai, left large side-altar

Left large side-altar.

The church in Uzpaliai, nice ceiling

The ceiling is magnificent, and became more so as the evening sun made everything golden.

The church in Uzpaliai, the altar

with the yellow-white streamers, bearing the Vaticanís colours.

The church in Uzpaliai, left small side-altar

The left hand small side-altar half way down the church.

The church in Uzpaliai, exterior

Looking great at the outside, too.

The church in Uzpaliai, aisle

The church was lit by the setting sun, shining through the great gate.

The church in Uzpaliai, right small side-altar

The right hand small side-altar half way down the church.

The church in Uzpaliai, wooden sculpture on the church-yard.

St. Casimir, Lithuanian king and saint, cut from a pole on the church-yard.

The church in Uzpaliai, from the organ loft

Finally we have arrived at the rear, and gone up on the organ loft.

The church in Uzpaliai, right large side-altar

Right large side-altar.

Outside the church in Uzpaliai, the firemenís saint

You can either go to the right or to the left of the firemenís saint, St. Florion. He stands right outside the church.


Vyzuonos is situated right north of Utena, at a tributary to Sventoji river. The grass snake Vyzas has given this little village its name. The grass snake was a holy animal in ancient pagan Lithuania and Vyzuonos had a pagan temple, hallowed to this very grass snake.

Vyzuonos, grass snake sculpture at entry

You just canít miss the snake as it stands at the entry from the main road.

Vyzuonos, grass snake sculpture at entry, detail

The grass snake close-up. Erection year is 1979.

Vyzuonos, grass snake sculpture at entry, detail

More snake. It is fantastic to see roadside sculptures. We have very few of them in Sweden.

Vyzuonos, road-cross at a road-crossing in the village

Lithuanian wooden art is unbelievably intricate.

Vyzuonos, road-cross at a road-crossing, detail

Roadside crosses are fairly common in Lithuania. The villages use them to show their Christian belief.

Vyzuonos Fire Station

Vyzuonos Fire Station, one heavy fire-engine

This is heavy stuff. This is a ZIL fire engine (Soviet limo factory), and they have the same sort of truck all over Lithuania. It is big and robust and seems to be able to tackle anything. A mean machine! Takes 3 cubic metres of water. This truck once fell through the ice on the river, but was rescued and still works. We tried the siren and it also worked beautifully.

Vyzuonos Fire Station, firemenís clothes

The firemen donít have very much equipment. The just have to work with what theyíve got.

Vyzuonosí Church

The church in Vyzuonos, exterior

The church in Vyzuonos is very old...

The church in Vyzuonos, with strange cannonball in the facade

built in the days of Vytautas the Great, the 15:th century. They say that one of the black balls in the facade is a Swedish cannonball.  

The church in Vyzuonos, from the organ loft

Letís begin the walkthrough with a picture from the organ loft.

The church in Vyzuonos, towards the organ loft

A look back at the organ loft, from whence we came.

The church in Vyzuonos, aisle

We walk along the aisle towards the altar.

The church in Vyzuonos, the altar

Notice the extraordinary ceiling paintings.

The church in Vyzuonos, real close to the altar

We finish as close to the altar as one can get without making a fool of oneself.

The church in Vyzuonos, looking at the beautiful ceiling

Turn you attention towards the ceiling. It is very beautifully painted.

The church in Vyzuonos, the pulpit

The pulpit is quite nice, too.

The church in Vyzuonos, organ having snazzy design

The organ design reminds a lot of the facade of St. Anneís Church in Vilnius.  

The church in Vyzuonos, left side-altar

The left side altar is turned 90 degrees from the main altar. Thatís why the sun can shine on this...

The church in Vyzuonos, right side-altar

and on the right side-altar, which is turned 90 degrees as well. Quite a nice effect.

The church in Vyzuonos, wooden cross on the churchyard.

This cross stands in the churchyard, which in Lithuania rarely has any graves. Behind it is a country house in the typical yellow colour.

Kartuviu Hill with the Partisansí Grave

Kartuviu Hill with the partisansí grave

Buried here are three of the partisans that fought the Communists in the Partisan war.

Kartuviu Hill with the partisansí grave, sculpture detail

They were killed on November 5, 1945. No one dared to mark the grave until after independence 1991.

Kartuviu Hill, pointy memorial

An even stranger monument at the same place is the triangular concrete ďspace shipĒ that some shepherds are said to have raised in memory of...

Kartuviu Hill, pointy memorial

...Lithuania, Vytautas and Christianity. That it was left untouched during the dark years is next to unbelievable.

Vyzuonos sculpture park

The village of Vyzuonos also has a small sculpture park. Here is a beautiful woman with a decided face. She looks like wood, but happens to be metal painted like wood.

Vyzuonos sculpture park, the two suffering poets

A memorial of two poets from Vyzuonos, that were persecuted and driven to suicide by the Communists. You can see their suffering faces.

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