::::::::::: Legendary place :::::::::::

The seventh MJR Festival has chosen for its location the legendary Kernavė, which from times immemorial has been known as the centre of both history and the ancient religion, as well as the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Viewing the sublimely beautiful Pajauta Valley from the impressively huge hillforts of Kernavė it is hard to remain indifferent to the grand spirit of the Past and the magic energy forcing its way from the Nature's abysses.

Kernavė is easily accessible from both country's motorways (A1 and A2), as it is located 40 km to the northeast of Vilnius. The events of Juodaragis will take place in a remarkable, originally equipped location in Valiūkiškiai, about 3 km from Kernavė, in a forest on a riverside of Neris. You may freely reach this place by the road through Kernavė woods by car or on foot. A vast fenced territory with magnificent wooden structures of various sizes on the picturesque Neris River bank makes an ideal site for the Juodaragis activities and pleasant time spending. You will be taken by surprise by the spirit of the place.

Three buses go from Vilnius to Kernavė per day. Besides, special extra buses are expected to go on Friday. A minibus will go from Kernavė to the festival location (the schedule will be announced right before the festival). It is convenient to come by car, as there will be a supervised and guarded parking lot available in the festival area.

maps:
Kernavė-Valiukiškiai schema [88Kb]
Apylinkių žemėlapis [169Kb]
Renginio teritorija [netrukus]
Transporto schema [netrukus]

 

::::::::::: History and magic :::::::::::

Kernavė is one of the grandest and most interesting places in Lithuania. Over 50 archaeological, historical and cultural monuments are located in the legendary town and surrounding areas. Among those there is the largest Lithuanian complex of five defensive forthills. There used to be a wooden medieval city in the neighbourhood of the forthills, in the Pajauta Valley on the riverside of Neris. For the first time Kernavė was recorded in historical chronicles in 1279 as the domain of Traidenis (1269-1282), the Grand Duke of Lithuania. During the 13th century, Kernavė stronghold and city were among the most important Lithuanian economic and political centres. Sometimes Kernavė is referred to as Lithuanian Troy, which has not yet received the attention of its Homer.

People inhabited these areas more than 10,000 years ago. During the first millennium, when the first enemies' attacks began, the inhabitants of Kernavė moved from Pajauta Valley to the fortified forthills. The latter served for military purposes up to the 14th century. Once the capital was moved to Trakai, Kernavė became the seat of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and eventually lost its political significance. It was rediscovered by Romantic poets only in the 19th c. Due to various reasons, Kernavė could not easily develop and remained a small yet indeed cosy and mysterious town where each visit leaves its unique trace... The town's coat of arms pictures a rider standing with his sword and shield at the gates of the city ruins. The inscription below saying "I'd rather lose my life than freedom" remarkably corresponds to the spirit of Kernavė.

In ancient times, Kernavė also used to be the centre of Lithuanian pagan cult. The names of the ancient forthills, that is, Aukuras (Altar in English) and Lizdeika Hills, and the Kriveikiškiai steading, which used to be nearby, remind the times of the mysterious Lithuanian priests Kriviai. According to legends, after the introduction of Christianity, when Jogaila ordered the central Perkūnas Temple to be demolished in Vilnius, Krivių Krivaitis Lizdeika retreated to Kernavė and nursed the holy fire here until he passed away. The pagan temple used to be located on Aukuras Hill. The researchers maintain that there were ancient sites of cult on the banks of Pragarinė and Spėra Lakes as well as in the groves of Pajauta Valley. The sacral significance of Kernavė is confirmed by the fact that, right after the introduction of christianity, the christians built here a wooden Catholic Church. The christians consistently adhered to their aggressive tactics and used to build their temples in the most important sites of the ancient religion.

The sacral aura of Kernavė is very distinct, therefore, it is very much understandable why this place is famous for its abundant legends closely entwined with history. The sagas narrate about the legendary Duke Kernius, who defeated the crusaders a few times, and his beautiful daughter Pajauta. Other stories tell about abounding catacombs that used to lead from Kernavė to Trakai and Vilnius. The doors to the catacombs were made of iron in Kernavė, silver in Trakai and golden in Vilnius. Legends about the monster of Pragarinė Lake and Spėra Duke also wander upon the surrounding valleys.


::::::::::: The Locality Recalls the Golden Age of the Balts :::::::::::

There are numerous impressive forthills, altarhills, barrows and mythological stones located in the surrounding areas of Kernavė. These especially abound along Neris River going down towards Vilnius. On your way to the Festival you may visit the forthills of Velniakampis, Bradeliškės, Buivydai, and Karmazinai. The biggest oak-forest of Lithuania soughs nearby Dūkštos. Probably the best-known Lithuanian stone with four runes is located in this forest. Some researchers hold that it was not in Kernavė, but in Dūkštos where the ancient centre of religion was situated. There are more important stones in the surroundings: Three Brothers in Gabijolai, a stone with a human foot in Mitkiškės, the Rooster's Stone in the river in Valiūkiškės, etc.

They say that the famous Karmazinai forthill at the tributary of Dūkšta into Neris River, is in fact an altar-hill called Viršupis (Above River in English). The stories of old people mention a pagan temple located here, which was surrounded by eighteen oak-trees in two circles. They also recall various haunting incidents. A nearby Karmazinai barrow is one of the largest in Lithuania. In the area of 12 ha there are over 130 mounds, the diameter of which is from 6 to 24 metres while the height reaches about one metre. It is said that there had been an old oak-tree among the mounds and a stone Perkūnas cult-figure beside before the World War Two. Now the fires are lit here each year on All Soul's Day. Further, in the neighbourhood of Rastinėnai, in the depth of the woods, there stands Velniakampis (Devil's Corner in English) Forthill which is an enigmatic and charming place just like its name tells us...

More information on Kernavė:
http://www.travel-lithuania.com/kernave/
http://muziejai.mch.mii.lt/Sirvintos/kernaves_archist_muziejus.htm