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Perloja was first mentioned in written documents in 1378. Back then, Perloja hosted the manor of the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The manor was deemed to be one of the most prominent wooden castles of Eastern Lithuania, as its purpose was to monitor the activity on the main road and guard the bridges and roadblocks.
During the Volok Reform in the 16th century, Perloja Village was reorganized and had kept its general characteristics for more than 300 hundred years. the village had expanded and experienced economic growth from the end of the 16th century to the second half of the 17th century.
However, the beginning of the 18th century brought many misfortunes to Perloja. During the Great Northern War, the town was ravaged several times by the Swedish and Russian armies. For several years in a row, the town had experienced famine caused by crop failure. The plague during the years 1709 to 1711 also contributed heavily to devastation of the Town of Perloja and further increased the death count of its residents. It was only after quite a few years that the empty homesteads became full again.
During the times of the formation of the Republic of Lithuania, Perloja was known for having established a semi-autonomous city-state with its own government - the Republic of Perloja. Perloja was a sovereign state from November 1918 to May 1919. It had its own directly elected government (a committee and a court), a police force, forest rangers and an organized, well-armed defense force.
Many of the Perloja’s residents joined the Southern Lithuanian guerilla warriors (partisans) in the anti-Soviet guerilla war. In 1995, the monument titled “For Perloja and Lithuania” was built to pay homage to the murdered partisans. During the Soviet times, Perloja had one of the most advanced farms and a testing laboratory dedicated to analyzing the peculiarities of agriculture in Southern Lithuania, improving farming practices, and increasing the yield.
According to its records, the Perloja Church of St. Mary and St. Francis of Assisi was built by Vytautas the Great himself sometime around 1417. This church was one of the first churches to be constructed in Lithuania. In 1777, a parish was established here. During the Russian Empire’s occupation of Lithuania, the residents of Perloja could not use the church, thus they designed a new small Gothic church. However, they managed to build the church only in 1930. The church was decorated by Jurgis Hopenas, a famous professor from the Warsaw Academy of Arts. Also, in the churchyard, you can find the grave of Ignas Šopara - a priest and a former President of the Republic of Perloja.
The Monument to Vytautas the Great was opened to public on July 19, 1931. The monument has the following inscription: “Oh, Vytautas the Great! You will live on for as long as at least one Lithuanian is alive”. Following the Second World War, the Government made numerous attempts to take down the monument since it was symbolizing freedom and the glory of Lithuania’s past. However, the locals always intervened and the monument remained intact.
- Varėnos rajono savivaldybė