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Born as a small fishermen's village, today this biggest and most popular resort city in Lithuania is a queen of whole Lithuanian seaside. I can say that, during the summer, all the roads in Lithuania lead to Palanga. Nowadays, Palanga is a vibrant resort city, full of golden beaches, spectacular sunsets, amber jewelry (including the amber museum), and wild Baltic Sea views. Despite these touristic sites, Palanga has long health resort traditions, as an exclusive retreat of writers, poets, and politicians. Also, this town is surrounded by traditional Lithuanian mythology and has the most beautiful botanical garden in the whole country.
The Palanga Botanical Garden is located in the Tiškevičiai Palace territory, which was built in the same year when the Botanical Garden was founded. In 1987, Count Felix Tiškevičius invited a famous French landscape architect and botanist Eduard Fransua Andre to supervise the park’s construction. Eduard Fransua Andre together with his son spent three summers in Palanga, and with the assistance of Belgian gardener Buyssen de Coulon, he constructed the park. Today, the landscape of Palanga Botanical Garden looks like a piece of art and is one of the best-preserved and best-kept parks in Lithuania's coastal region. Together with a neo-renaissance palace, Palanga Botanical Garden creates the relaxation mood. Moreover, the palace and garden are set between a pond and an ancient Lithuanian sacred place - the legendary hill of Birutė. From the hill of Birutė, the glorious views of the Baltic Sea are available.
Experts say that 500 different kinds of trees and bushes are planted in the park. Pine trees dominate in here, and about 250 imported and 370 native plant species are represented. The park covers an area of approximately 100 ha. In the park, there are various fields of flowers, an oval rose garden, a terrace, flowing water bodies, beach and sand dunes that stretch for 1.5 km in the territory of the park. Also, the park has eight buildings, seven sculptures and a number of other architectural constructions. In the park, you can find one of my favorite sculptures in Lithuania - a bronze statue done by Robertas Antinis (1960) - “Eglė, the queen of serpents”. This sculpture is one of the most visited places in the whole Palanga. All the generations in Lithuania have at least one photo taken near this statue. The sculpture was inspired by the most famous Lithuanian mythological folk tale - “Eglė, the queen of serpents”.
A famous Lithuanian folk tale - “Eglė, the queen of serpents” tells a story of three fisherman’s daughters and the serpent Žilvinas. There are over a hundred slightly diverging versions of the plot, and the folk tale has many references to the Baltic mythology. As the tale is taking place in Palanga, there are many places, sculptures, and signs related to this fairy tale.
According to this folk tale, during one of the summer evenings, three daughters were swimming in the Baltic Sea, and suddenly after the swim, they found a serpent warming up in one of the youngest daughter's clothes. The youngest daughter Eglė was forced to give the word to serpent Žilvinas that she will marry him. After three days, dozens of serpents came to fisherman’s house to take Eglė to serpent Žilvinas for their wedding. Eglė married the serpent and lived in the Baltic Sea since, in the sea, the serpent turned into a beautiful young man. However, over the years, Eglė missed her family and wanted to visit them. Žilvinas was afraid that Eglė would leave him and did not allow her to go to the coast. After many attempts, Eglė visited her family, but her brothers killed Žilvinas. When the time has come, and Eglė wanted to go home to Žilvinas, she went to the beach and said these words that Žilvinas was asked her to do:
Žilvinas, Žilvinėli, If alive – may the sea-foam milk, If dead – may the sea-foam bleed…
Eventually, the sea became full of blood, and Eglė understood that her husband is dead. With her heart full of pain, she turned herself and hers and Žilvinas children to trees. It is believed that till now, in the Palanga beach, Eglė and her children are standing as trees with hearts full of anguish. This folk tale is still widely alive. The tale’s motives are found in the musicals, movies, poems, etc. There are many signs related to this fairy tale in the Palanga city as well.
The neo-renaissance Tiškevičiai Palace, where nowadays the Palanga Amber Museum is established, together with the Botanic Garden and mythological “Eglė, the queen of serpents” sculpture is an exceptional place in Lithuania. For sure, this site is very loved among all Lithuanians, and it is a real gem of Palanga.
Cover picture © Credits to iStock/Olga355
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