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MJR 2011

:::: ZARASAI region ::::

The Black Horned Moon travels to the North East, to the very edge of our country, which allures with the clearest colours of Nature and peaceful dew of lakes. Here, at the end of the world named by the tribe of Selonians with the last rune of the alphabet, where the West ends and the East yet hasn't started - here the flags of MJR Festival will rise for the second time. The land of Zarasai is still breathing with rich greenery of forests, strength of oaks, depths of primordial waters and freedom. It is a land where everyone becomes a poet and a place where you can walk barefoot.

Look at the beautiful coat of arms of Zarasai - the spirit of this land is perfectly embodied in the magnificent and graceful curve of the roe/fish under the Full Moon/Sun, while the flame-bladed sword in black background emanates some kind of mysterious magic. Perhaps it was this coat of arms, or the Selonian runes and the entire uniqueness of this land that have brought the 10 th MJR Festival to the island of Lake Zarasas.

Zarasai locality is full of lakes and little lakes (over 300 of them!), mounds (about thirty) and mythological places (marked stones and “devil’s eyes”). The district hosts the oldest Lithuanian Stelmužė oak, the biggest lake, it is famous for thousands of islands, sacramental wooden architecture, water mills, forests, rare species of plants as well as distinctive history.

The Festival will take place in a unique island of Lake Zarasas. This pearl of Upper Lithuania has been famous throughout the country’s history and has now been discovered again. The island located on the eastern edge of Zarasai town covers an area of 44 ha and stretches almost a kilometre across. Although the town is rather close, visitors of the island will find themselves in a quite another world surrounded by its mysteries, numerous oaks, lindens and pines.

Zarasai district is famous and interesting. There is a water-power plant full of olden industrial romance in Antalieptė. Dusetos is famous for its annual horse race, which takes place every winter on the icebound Lake Sartai. The district hosts the oldest Lithuanian Stelmužė oak and the legendary Stone of Plains, which according to the legend was dropped by the Devil himself thus shaping the local rolling terrain. The locality is full of mounds (about thirty) and mythological places (marked stones and “devil’s eyes”); it is famous for hosting the, the biggest lake sacramental wooden architecture, water mills, forests, rare species of plants as well as distinctive history.

The Capital of Lakes
All visitors are captured by the view of bends of rivers and lakes among the sparsely inhabited hills. Deep hollows with thin and long valleys and lakes interconnected by streams and rivers lay at the feet of the hills. Zarasai town is surrounded by seven lakes and is called the capital of lakes with its heart lying in the Great island of Lake Zarasas. The land is attractive due of its sparse population, absence of heavy industry and domination of peaceful beauty and spirit of Nature.

There are many more exciting details of history in Zarasai town and numerous beautiful and interesting locations in the vicinity. Therefore, we will try to update this section with additional information.



:::: The Great island of Zarasas lake ::::

The Greater island of Lake Zarasas covers an area of 44 ha. It is a unique place of cultural events and resort. It also has great archaeological potential. There are numerous robust oaks, pines and lindens in the island as well as scenic hills and meadows. A picturesque marsh located in the middle of the island is encircled by a road, where the horse races used to take place. There is only one way to reach the island - a bridge, which will become the gate of the MJR Festival. Usually camping, making fires and car entrance is forbidden in the island, but an exception will be made for the Festival.

There are several beaches around the island, the most outstanding of which is called Golden beach. The lake itself is quite deep, so swim carefully.

The opening rites will be performed at a mighty oak on the Northern cape, where an altar will flare up. Several stages will be set up in the island - the Greater Stage and the Small Stage - surrounded by magnificent nature and each embodying different aspects of the diverse music of the Mėmuo Juodaragis. On Friday electronic industrial music artists will have their own scene through the night, and on Saturday a new stage for Folk music will rise in Crafts yard.

Few camping sites will be settled, so each visitor of the Fest could decide whether he/she wants to sleep quetly in more distant place or join more buzzy and dynamic life in the main camping.

Photos from Zarasai island - 2011 spring



:::: ZARASAI town ::::

The origins of Zarasai
In the old times, the land has been inhabited by the Selonian tribe, and the name of the town is of Selonian origin as well. The tribe left a rich heritage of unique place-names and multiple mounds of former castles. The name of the tribe was mentioned in the chronicles only in XI century. In the course of history Selonians were assimilated and conquered by the other tribes, but no one can erase the heritage, embedded in the names of lakes, hills and villages.

Mysterious monastery in the island
Theories say that the hill, where the town is situated at present days, used to be deserted except for a scarce pine and oak grove and a small village consisting of a few cottages on the western foot of the hill. However, a male stone monastery and a church have been built in the nearby Great island of Lake Zarasas. Although there are no precise historical data on this issue, the probably-never-be monastery indicates the significance of this location.

St. Petersburg-Zarasai-Warsaw
The name of Zarasai was first mentioned in 1613 in the map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was marked as a settlement of considerable size, though further growth was hindered by a fair share of plague, fire and war. In 1795, the land of Zarasai was seized by the Russian Empire. Falling under the Russian sphere of influence, the decision to run the Warsaw-St. Petersburg highway through the town saw it transform from one horse town to boomtown. Tsar Nikolai The I, who visited town in 1836, was amazed by the beauty of the town and wanted to call it after the name of his successor – Aleksandrovsk, but, as the town with such a name, already existed, it was named Novoaleksandrovsk, and became the center of the district. The became a resort and was flooded by Russians and Jews.

Radiant Town Plan
In 1836, the plan of Zarasai town was designed with four radial streets stretching from the main square. This urbanistic monument makes Zarasai unique among all Lithuanian towns designed in the 19 th century. The exceptional plan have been allowed because of a very special Zarasai landscape to avoid fires. Look - its Sun!

At the beginning of the XX century the town was called Ezerenai, but the ethnical name was restored by the efforts of linguists. Zarasai came back to life during the interwar period and started repairing the damages of the occupation and war. Zarasai soon became a summer resort town, but the World War II and the subsequent Soviet occupation once again clouded the land with severe losses. In 1950, Zarasai was attributed the status of the district centre.

The town celebrated it’s 500 year anniversary in 2007. At the moment it has about 8000 residents. The festival guest will feel the calm and relaxing atmosphere of the town, but, on the other hand, will be able to use all the facilities they need: markets, bars, post service, internet, museum, tourist information center, medical care, housing, ATM and others. And it’s just couple of minutes walk from the festival location.


There are many more exciting details of history in Zarasai town and numerous beautiful and interesting locations in the vicinity. Therefore, we will try to update this section with additional information.

Zarasai links:
Zarasai tourist information centre

Apie Zarasų miestą ir kraštą daugiau:

Zarasų turizmo informacijos centras





[c] Mėnuo Juodaragis [c] Dangus 2011