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Birštonas Mound, also known as Vytautas Hill, stands within the territory of Birštonas municipality, on the right bank of Nemunas.

 

Birštonas Mound is one of the most well-known and highest mounds in Lithuania. A wooden castle once stood here, protecting Trakai duchy from the attacks of Crusaders.

 

The mound is surrounded by ravines. It has steep, 13–20 m high slopes. The site is oval, around 70 x 35 m in size. Its north-western side has been destroyed by the excavation of water tank pits. The southern foot of the mound holds the remains of its ancient settlement. The mound is covered in trees and bushes. From the northern side, a ditch connects the mound with the nearby upland. The mound and the upland are connected with stairs.

 

The mound is shrouded in legends. It is said that the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas used to rest here after a hunt. At the end of the 14th century, there was a strong, wooden castle of Birštonas built on the mound which was particularly hard to attack, and was of the same age as the first castle of Punia. It was surrounded by deep, springy washes, a swamp, an embankment and a fortified outer bailey. There was a Manor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania near the castle, later known as the Cursed Manor.

 

During the years of Vytautas, Birštonas was a strategically important place of the state. The wooden castle was attacked more than once by the Crusaders. Dukes and other nobles would come to the castle for hunts. Sometimes, the castle was even used as a refuge for those who were hiding from wars and unrest. In 1473, the castle was a home for King Kazimieras Jogailaitis and his family who were hiding from the plague that ravaged the country. The castle lost its defensive value later on and deteriorated until the 17th century.

 

At the end of the 19th century, Birštonas received the status of a resort and the mound became a beautiful place for romantic walks. However, not all stories associated with the mound are beautiful. It is suspected that, during the interwar period, a well-known clergyman hanged his beloved on the mound, even though he was not proven guilty in court. In 1984, a movie was created about these events called "Devyni nuopolio ratai" ("Nine Circles of Downfall").

Sources:

  1. https://www.visitbirstonas.lt

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