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Mound of Castle mound

Location: N54° 27` 56.0", E23° 2` 50.99"

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Majestic mounds recall ancient Lithuania. Being around Bartninkai, it‘s definitely worth visiting one of the most beautiful mounds of Suduva, Piliakalniai Mound. It‘s a previous village of the 5th – 12th centuries and a castle. It is estimated that there could be the legendary Duke Margiris’ Pilėnai Castle. The nearby villages of Margai and Peleniai and some other facts suggest that it really was. 

According to historical sources Pilėnai castle stood on the ground of Trapėnai. It was attacked by the Teutonic Order, but Lithuanians bravely defended themselves, although the forces were uneven. There were four thousand soldiers in the castle, who came there with their household from the surrounding villages having heard about the enemy. The defenders tormented the enemy fighting not only at the defensive rampart, but also escaping successful through the open area and raiding the enemy. When many Pilėnai people were killed and many more were injured, the number of defenders reduced, the hope to defend the castle began to die out, especially due to the fact that the weakened walls poorly protected, an entirely desperate idea was tackled; unwilling to give in to the enemy, they pointed their guns against themselves and their loved ones. They loaded a big fire and threw everything that could have been plundered by the enemy. They killed and threw into the flames their wives, children and all those who were unable to raise a weapon. Then they asked to be killed by their leader who stabbed himself with a sword last. 

Piliakalniai mound is to the south of the Piliakalniai village, on the left bank of the river Aista. Some remains of a settlement of the 5th – 14th centuries were found at the foot of it. It is said that the outer slope of the mound embankment had been paved with stones, which were gathered according to the order of Pilkapiai landlord. They were used to pitch a barn. 

Piliakalniai mound is in Bartninkai neighbourhood. Efforts have been made to protect it from a possible negative impact of tourism. A visiting route, stairs, a walkway, a lot of rest areas, and a hearth was made. 

There is a Vinkšnupiai mansion nearby. In the past Vinkšnupiai were famous because Tatars lived there and they even had their own mosque (Tatar cemetery with surviving original gravestones is not far from the estate). It is argued that at some time in the past Vinkšnupiai were given to one Tatar military commander who fought on the Lithuanian side in Žalgiris battle. During the period of the interwar in Lithuania Vinkšnupiai belonged to Gavrilkevičiai who built up the neo-classical-style palace with an arcade portico and a balcony. By the way, it is told that famous V.Jeruzelskis was hiding in Vinkšnupėnai during World War II. V.Jeruzelskis became the leader of the Polish Communist Party after the war.