Alytus

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Alytus, Lithuania
City municipality
Panorama of Alytus
Panorama of Alytus
Flag of Alytus, Lithuania
Flag
Coat of arms of Alytus, Lithuania
Coat of arms
Alytus, Lithuania is located in Lithuania
Alytus, Lithuania
Alytus, Lithuania
Location of Alytus
Coordinates: 54°24′05″N 24°02′57″E / 54.40139°N 24.04917°E / 54.40139; 24.04917Coordinates: 54°24′05″N 24°02′57″E / 54.40139°N 24.04917°E / 54.40139; 24.04917
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Dzūkija
County Alytus County
Municipality Alytus city municipality
Capital of Alytus County
Alytus city municipality
Alytus district municipality
First mentioned 1377
Granted city rights 1581
Area
 • Total 40 km2 (20 sq mi)
Elevation 200 m (700 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Total 57,281
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 62xxx
Area code(s) (+370) 315
Website www.ams.lt

Alytus is a city with municipal rights in southern Lithuania. It is the capital of Alytus County. Its population in 2013 was 57,281. Alytus is the historical centre of the Dzūkija region. The city lies on the banks of the Nemunas River. The major highways linking Vilnius, Kaunas, Lazdijai, and Hrodna in Belarus pass through Alytus. The distance from Alytus to Kaunas is 70 km (43 mi); the distance from Alytus to Vilnius is 105 km (65 mi).

Divided onto two separate entities for centuries, it consists of two parts still frequently referred to as Alytus I and Alytus II, the earlier being a smaller town and the latter forming the city centre with parks, microdistricts and industrial areas.

Name[edit]

The name is derived from the Lithuanian hydronym Alytupis. In other languages the names of the town include German: Aliten, Olita, Polish: Olita, Russian: Олита Olita, Belarusian: Аліта Alita, Yiddish: אליטע Alite, Latvian: Alīta.

History[edit]

Alytus Castle site
Saint Mary church

The first historical record of Alytus dates back to 1377,[1] when it was mentioned in the Chronicles of Wigand of Marburg under the name of Aliten. According to the chronicle the spot was occupied by a small, wooden fortress guarding the Lithuanian frontier with the Teutonic Order. The fort and the surrounding village gradually grew, despite being frequently a target of raids of both the Lithuanians and the Teutons. The Treaty of Lake Melno left the town on the Teutonic side of the border, but it was retaken soon afterwards. On 15 June 1581 Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Stefan Batory granted the town the city rights based on the Magdeburg Law. The event is celebrated as the Alytus Day.

Until the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth the town was a part of the Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a notable center of commerce on the Nemunas River, serving as the main route for export goods from Lithuania proper. The town was also important as the place where one of the royal economic offices was located. In the third partition of Poland and Lithuania, in 1795, the town was divided between the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. During the Napoleonic Wars, following the Treaty of Tilsit, the western part was ceded to the Duchy of Warsaw. After the Congress of Vienna it became part of the duchy's successor state, the Kingdom of Poland. Although the state was tied with a personal union with Russia, both parts of the town remained completely separate until the January Uprising of 1863. After that date the autonomy of Poland was liquidated, but both parts of the town remained governed separately.

In the late 19th century the town was incorporated into a chain of Russian fortified garrisons along the border with East Prussia. It was tied with the rest of the world by a railway and a new road. In addition, the tsarist authorities constructed several barracks and an Orthodox church (in modern times converted to a Catholic church). However, despite the fortification effort by the Russians, during the World War I the Central Powers managed to capture the town intact, without any major skirmish. In 1915 the town was incorporated into the so-called Ober-Ost and both parts were once again united into a single administrative entity - for the first time since 1795.

Following the end of World War I the area remained contested by newly independent Poland and Lithuania, with the actual control held by the German army stationed in the area. When the Germans withdrew in early 1919, the town was seized by the Red Army. On 12 February 1919 the town became a battlefield for the first skirmish between the Russians and the Lithuanian forces, which eventually took control over it. Since then the town has been a part of the Republic of Lithuania.

Following the invasion of Poland a large prisoner of war camp for Polish soldiers was established in the city. Following the German occupation of the city in 1941, the camp was converted into a prison camp for Soviet soldiers (Stalag 343). In the nearby forest of Vidzgiris the Nazis murdered approximately 60,000 people, mostly Jews from nearby towns in occupied Poland and Lithuania.[2]

Culture[edit]

Alytus in winter
Alytus Afghan Veterans Museum

Alytaus Naujienos is a local newspaper in Alytus.

Alytus hosted the Art Strike Biennial between 18 and 24 August 2009 in response to Vilnius becoming European Capital of Culture for 2009. This included a demonstration[3] and a three sided football match.[4] The universal indoor Alytus arena is under construction now. It hosted the Eurobasket 2011 Group C matches in Alytus. In 2010 Alytus was awarded the Honourable Plate of the European Council.

Alytus has a museum dedicated to veterans of both the Afghan wars.

Alytus has hosted an annual Tomato tasting since 2007. Participants offer a wide variety of tomatoes and discuss the various factors which help produce a rich crop of the fruit.[5] Alytus has industrial company named Snaigė, which manufactures refrigerators.[6]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns - Sister cities[edit]

Alytus is twinned with:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Alytus City". Alytus tourism information centre. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  2. ^ The Jewish community of Alytus during World War II and afterwards (JewishGen article)
  3. ^ 'Alytus -meno streiko sostine', Alytus Naujienos, Nr 15521st August 2009
  4. ^ Alytus art strike: 3-sided football (trišalis futbolas) accessed 30 August 2009
  5. ^ "POMIDORŲ DEGUSTACIJA". JŪSŲ DARŽUI. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Refrigerators | Freezers | A++ class refrigerators | SNAIGE
  7. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie Opola". Urzad Miasta Opola (in Polish). Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

External links[edit]