Tatar mosque in the Tatar cemetery of Nemėžis
|Municipality||Vilnius district municipality|
|Capital of||Nemėžis eldership|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
It is believed that there was a castle in Nemėžis during the reign of Vytautas the Great (1392–1430). The settlement was first mentioned in written sources in 1496 when Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander Jagiellon welcomed his future wife Helena of Moscow here.
Nemėžis is one of several Lithuanian settlements where Lipka Tatars live. Brought as prisoners of war, Tatars were allowed to settle here in 1397 after Vytautas' expeditions against the Golden Horde (see the Battle of Blue Waters). Up until this day they have preserved their traditions and Islamic religion. At first Tatars served as personal guards for the Grand Duke of Lithuania, but later took up more civil professions: breeding horses, tanning, gardening. Eventually Tatars became known as excellent gardeners, growing eggplants, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Even today Nemėžis is known for its numerous greenhouses.
The first wooden mosque in Nemėžis was built in 1684. It burned down but a new one was built in 1909. During the Soviet times it was turned into a warehouse. After Lithuania declared independence, the mosque was returned to the community and it continues to be used for religious services. In 1993 it was restored. It is used for prayer only on Fridays, young moon. On that occasion a mullah comes from Vilnius. Nemėžis mosque is one of four operational mosques in Lithuania. Nemėžis also has an operational Tatar cemetery and a Tatar school.
The Nemėžis estate, located approximately 1 km outside the village, was established in the 16th century. At first it belonged to the Pac family, but changed hands frequently. Its owners at different times were the Radziwiłł family, Jan Kazimierz Sapieha, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Lew Sapieha, and the Ogiński family. Until the 19th century the manor was of a wooden construction. Around 1830 the place was bought by the Tyszkiewicz family and rebuilt the manor in bricks in 1836–1856. The park of the estate was destroyed while building a road connecting Vilnius with Minsk.
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