Varniai Regional Park, Zemaitijos Mounds
Location: N55° 43` 0.00", E22° 23` 59.9"
Varniai and its surroundings is the heart of Samogitia. Varniai Regional Park is a protected area, which includes Central Samogitia highlands. There are prominent hills of Samogitia: Šatrija, Sprūdė, Moteraitis, Girgždūtė, Medvėgalis and others. Once castles stood on the hills. Their inhabitants bravely defended Samogitia from Crusaders’ attacks.
A trip visiting the mounds of Samogitia: Varniai- Vembuto mound - Kūlgrinda - Bilionys mound - Aukštagirė tower - Medvėgalis -Varniai (about 60 km). It takes about 4 hours. (To go to Kūlgrinda we suggest for students not younger than being in the 6th form. The route through the forest and the swamp has to be overcome barefoot. Have bathing suits.)
Varniai Regional Park awaits for visitors. You can call 8 444 47415 or mobile: 8 612 66133 and order excursions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Tours and a tour manager (guide) services in the Lithuanian language cost 10 Eur for a group (time 1 hour).
Vembutai mound is next to a small stream, locally known as Geruliuku. It is estimated that there could be the city – a fortress of Samogitian Duke Vykintas.
In Sietuva swamps there is a secret cobbled road through the swamp (in Lithuanian it is called Kulgrinda). "The Kūlgrinda of Sietuva is a great archaeological monument of our country. It is said that this is left from the time when giants lived there. It's their job. Anyhow, according to the data of boreholes, the depth of the Sietuva marshes is 5-7 m. How many stones had to be drowned to make the stone paths!” Today there are 3 segments of Kūlgrinda clarified. The first goes through the very Sietuva stream. Its length is 250 m, width - 8 m (over the very stream up to 20 m). The other two runs through the nearby wetlands, their length is 150 and 60 m, and the width is of 3-4 m.
Bilionys mound is a hypothetical Pilėnai localization site, a sacred pagan place.
Aukštagirė tower. Aukštagirė wooded mountain (the hight is 215.1 m.) stands in the area of Aukštagirė village, Šilalės district. Forests grow around the mountain. Aukštagirė Hill is the highest hill in Aukštagirė geomorphological reserve. The name of Aukštagirė hill and its neighbourhoods comes from the huge forests which once grew there and were cut. A legend has it that a giant was sitting on Bilionys mound with his legs stretched. In the place, where he shook the ground out of his shoes, the Aukštagirė Hill appeared. 15 meters high Aukštagirė tower stands on this hill. You can enjoy a typical Samogitian landscape: Medvėgalis, Bilionys village in the distance and the ponds beyond it.
Medvėgalis. Historical sources mention Medvėgalis wooden castle from 1316 when it was attacked by the Crusaders. Medvėgalis is the central, the most famous fortress that defended Samogitia from Crusaders’ attacks. The crusaders burned the castle standing there in 1329. Medvėgalis’ defenders were forced to be baptized but after the withdrawal of the Crusaders they returned to paganism again. It is known about 20 marches of the Order against Medvėgalis.
According to a story, the name Medvėgalis originated from the time when the defenders of the castle were surrounded by enemies and two brave virgins, who knew the way through Kūlgrinda, helped them. When it came to deciding who will inform the other castles of Medvėgalis siege, the girls said: "Mudvi galiva“(we can) and then came out and called for help. According to these words, the castle was called Medvėgalis.
This region is famous not only for its historical past, but also for its natural heritage. There is perhaps the only lake, which is called Lukstas, emitting amber in Lithuania. There are the headwaters of the largest Samogitian rivers (Minija, Virvytė, Venta). Varniai Regional Park has 34 nature reserves. Medvėgalis archaeological complex, Aukštagirė cognitive pedestrians and cyclists‘ path (23 km), Debesnai botanical trail, Sietuva kūlgrinda, Jomantai forest trail (4 km), Žąsūgala cognitive cycling trail (32 km), Lukstas amber trail (1 km), Šatrija hill and etc. are waiting for visitors.