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Gelgaudiškis Manor is an architectural ensemble of the 19th century, located in Šakiai district, Gelgaudiškis, on the bank of Nemunas. It is a large estate and one of the most original manor ensembles in Lithuania which blends in with the local nature. The ensemble is comprised of the palace, kitchen, granary, workshop, barn, conservatory, cottage, tower, cellars and park.
In the 15 century, there was a Gelgaudai farmstead here known as Gedigaudiškiai. In 1507, Grand Duke Aleksandras of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania gifted this farmstead to Jonas Sapiega. In 1585, it was bought by Grigalius Masalskis, and in 1586 Masalskis sold the manor to Kasparas Oziembovskis. The manor was first mentioned by the name of Gelgaudiškis in 1599. In the 18th century, Gelgaudiškis was governed by Gelgaudai and Čartoriskiai families. In 1797, the manor was bought from A.Čartoriskis by the German baron Teodoras Henrikas Frydrichas Koidelis (Theodore Heinrich Friedrich Koidel)
The estate’s palace building was built under the initiative of Gustavas Koidelis (Gustav Koidel) in 1842–1846. In the middle of the 19th century, Koidel family sold Gelgaudiškis and moved to Dresden, because Russian authorities prohibited foreigners to own manors on the outskirts of the state in 1887. At the beginning of the 20th century, the manor was bought and then reconstructed by Medardas Komaras. The entire park of the estate was also re-planned, and a chapel and cemetery of the Koidel family were built here. Gelgaudiškis Manor deteriorated in the 20th century after the German occupation of World War I, thus Komaras sold it to the Lithuanian Women’s Society who converted the manor into an orphanage (housing around 80 orphans) under the care of nuns. The orphanage operated until 1941. During World War II, the manor was used as headquarters and later a war hospital. During the Soviet period, it was once again used as an orphanage, and in 1966 – as an auxiliary boarding school. Restoration works are being carried out in the manor as of 2009 and include repairs of the palace, workshop, cottage, conservatory, and water tower where a carillon of 36 bells was added in 2015.
The manor palace is a single-storey, neoclassical-style building, as well as an architectural monument of national importance. Palace facades include columns, elegant balusters, beautiful metal articles and other decorative elements.
The palace is surrounded by an old park (118.5 ha). It is one of the largest parks in Lithuania with a particularly complex structure where strict geometric shapes merge with the natural forests of the slopes of Nemunas. The main accent of the park is its four-row silver maple alley which crosses the palace facing Nemunas River from the south side. The park has a field called the star with clearings cut towards the direction of eight different countries of the world. Legend says that hunting lords used to dine here and wanted to see the approaching wildlife, therefore they ordered to cut out paths. At the turn of the 20th century, the park was reorganized, and its landscape was expanded and enriched with rare plants: silver maples, common and grey chestnuts, black and Eastern white pines, black locusts and basswoods. Based on its complex value, Gelgaudiškis Park is the most valuable park in the Suvalkija region.