Get to know the nature of Dzūkija
Object no. 1 Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve
Biosphere Reserve Žuvintas is located in the southern part of the Middle Lithuanian Lowlands. It represents approximately 59,000 ha and includes lakes, wetlands, mires, peat bogs, and pine tree stands. Its variety of habitats and vegetation renders this location very rich in biodiversity. The biosphere reserve will be inscribed in national law as a specific category when designated. The main human activities include agriculture, forestry, and fishing, with the recent development of eco-farming and tourism. The area has a population of about 11,000, comprising a mixture of large and small landowners.
Biosphere Reserve Žuvintas is the first site of Lithuania recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
Kampelių g. 10, Aleknonių k., Simno sen., Alytaus r.
GPS: 54.457093, 23.640399 (WGS)
Object no. 2 Punia Mound
The Punia Mound is one of the biggest and most beautiful in Lithuania. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Punelė. The mound can be easily found – there is a path from the church leading to the west, one has to take the path and follow it for about 200 metres. There is a legend telling that duke Margiris had his castle on the mound of Punia and it was called Pilėnai. The mound saw the famous battle of Pilėnai in 1336. Defenders of the castle and residents chose to die in flames rather than surrender and be brought into captivity by the crusaders.
According to the legend, on the opposite side of the Nemunas, on the Mound of Rumbonys, there used to be underground caves in the basement of the castle even under the Nemunas. They wound their way for several kilometres and reached the Castle of Punia. The crusaders would not have conquered the castle of Punia, even if they had not found these underground tunnels which were used by Margiris’ knights to bring some food and weapons from the castle of Rumbonys. Unfortunately, somebody turned traitor and was tempted by offered treasures. The traitor showed the secret underground way and the crusaders managed to invade the fortress of Punia.
After thorough explorations of the mound, archaeologists identified that there was a castle on the mound in the 13th and 14th centuries which was burnt down. A new castle was built instead in the 15th century. However, the latter also burnt down in less than a century and at the end of the 16th century a new big mansion was built here. Later it simply rotted away.
Object no. 3 The Vidzgiris Botanical Forest
Vidzgiris Forest stretching the territory of the city of Alytus for 452 ha (388 ha of it were declared a botanical reserve in 1960) is a unique corner of nature, like an island of nature in Alytus city. Vidzgiris forest is home to the largest coherent hornbeam in Lithuania, there are forests of broadleaf, as well as slopes and ravines, oak woods, larch, rare plants of high botanical value, and protected species of amphibians and insects, live there.
The reserve was granted the status of European Network of Protected Areas Natura 2000 in 2009.
There are ecological and nature cognitive trails in Vidzgiris Botanical Reserve for those interested in nature and who love hiking. They introduce you to the fascinating biodiversity of the Vidzgiris Forest. They present the visitors with the fascinating biodiversity of the Vidzgiris Forest. The trails lead to Radžiūnai mound (also called Pilaitė).
Object no. 4 The Great Stone of Dzūkija
The Great Stone of Dzūkija stands in the young pine forest of the Vangelonys village, in the Nemunaitis district neighbourhood. This is the largest boulder in Dzūkija and the ninth-largest boulder in Lithuania. It is irregularly shaped, decayed, and cracked in places because, as local people tell, the lightning struck it numerous times. The length of the boulder is 7 m, the width – is 4,5 m, and the girth – is 18 m.
Object no. 5 Karolis Dineika Wellness Park
Karolis Dineika Wellness Park is a relaxing oasis, located in a beautiful pine forest on the coast of the Ratnyčia River. The park continues the old traditions of treatment focused on the air, water and sun, and offers visitors unique procedures to try: walking on special treatment pathways, ionotherapy, sun and tranquillity on the terraces, or a foot massage in an acupressure pool.More info
Object no. 6 Love Island
Love Island is located in the middle of the Nemunas River. At the beginning of the 20th century, young people from Druskininkai would gather there to have fun, dance and sing. At that time, the left side of Love Island belonged to Lithuania – while the right side belongs to Poland. Therefore, a barbed wire fence stood in the middle of the island, dividing it in half. In the Interwar period, there was a very popular beach on Love Island, which was connected to the Druskininkai shore by a pedestrian bridge that was built every summer. The bridge had a drawbridge that allowed steamboats to pass through. There was an entrance fee for those wishing to visit the beach. Today, Love Island is a botanical reserve which can be explored by going on a boat trip along the Nemunas.More info
Object no. 7 Devil’s Stone
According to legend, the devil was carrying a large stone in order to block the flow of the Nemunas River, but the dawn started to break and a rooster sang unexpectedly early. The devil took fright, lost the stone and disappeared, while the stone rolled toward Švendubrė and continues to lie there to this day. Nowadays, there are wooden sculptures of the Bell Ringer, the Legend of Raigardas and the Shepherd Girl based on various legends that have been erected near the stone.More info