Kernave

Overview

Introduction

Excavations on the Kernave World Heritage Site 40 mi/65 km north of Vilnius are uncovering a long-forgotten medieval town believed to be the first capital of Lithuania. A nearby hill holds the ruins of the town's protective castle. Archaeological finds from the site can be seen at the Kernave Historical and Archaeological Museum.

Kernave is also famous for its piliakalniai, burial mounds left over from Lithuania's pagan past. The last pagan high priest is said to have retired there, along with his holy fire and his holy virgins, after the Christianization of Lithuania. In 1365, the Lithuanians themselves burned down their stronghold, before the Teutonic Knights could conquer it. On 23-24 June, an assortment of neo-pagans congregate there to light bonfires and have a merry time, which may get quite naughty.

Kernave is very close to the geographical center of Europe, as determined by the French National Geographic Institute. An inscribed stone on a small hill marks the spot. http://www.kernave.org.

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