HOME SWEET HOME!
9 long years have passed since I graduated from the Gymnasium of Linkuva and moved to Vilnius. At first, I kept coming back almost every weekend. By the end of the year, the number reduced to twice per month. The second year at university happened to be even more challenging. My trips home varied from 'once per month' to 'every now and then'.
Once I began to work, my friends and relatives started calling me 'a rare guest'. Even after graduation, things did not change as much as I expected. Living and working in foreign countries, traveling to faraway lands and some twists and turns of life made those visits even more infrequent. Yet, in all those years one thing never changed. Linkuva never stopped being my home sweet home.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Linkuva is located in a land once inhabited by a Baltic tribe called Semigallians. According to some sources, the town itself is more than 500 years old. It is known that the so-called Linkuva manor already stood here 500 years ago. It belonged to Otto Grotthuss, who was the night of Livonian order. There are quite a few valuable buildings in architectural and historical terms that survived up to this day. They are the Linkuva St Mary Catholic Church and the Carmelite Monastery.
The town center has a unique street structure and is an urban monument. The central square connects 7 streets. From a bird's view, it looks more or less like the sun and its beams. The central monument was built back in the year 2018. This work of art depicts some of the most important events of the town history. It was an indescribable feeling to bring my 6-week-old daughter to Linkuva for the first time.
For many years Linkuva was inhabited both by Lithuanian and Jewish communities. The second one developed in a very gradual manner. It is known that in the year 1721 and 1722 a population census took place. 29 houses that belonged to Catholics and 27 houses that belonged to Jews were registered. The Jewish community built their homes close to their stores and other establishments. At the beginning of the 19th century, the number of Jews in Linkuva began to decrease. Some of the buildings that once belonged to them survived up to this day.
The population of Linkuva is decreasing. Right now it is about 1200-1300. Way less than 21 years ago when I started attending school. There is no surprise why there is no need for too many cafes and restaurants in such a small town. Yet, if you decide to visit Linkuva, the best place to get something to eat would be the cafe 'Three Eagles'. Otherwise, you may reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook for more recommendations.
What can I say? The gymnasium is inseparable from the overall picture of this charming town. Despite the fact the last time I visited my school was 9 years ago, it feels like it happened yesterday. Although I still keep in touch with a few of my teachers and classmates, I have not met the others ever since.
Some of the memories make me smile even now. It is important to mention that our house was located only 200 meters away. Even so, I was late for school EVERY single morning for many years. How was that possible you ask? Trust me, I have no idea. This was one of the special abilities that I am not proud of.
Linkuva Gymnasium was established back in 1918. "This building doesn't look 102 years old" you might say and it is true. The thing is, at first all the lessons were held in the red brick building that you can see in the picture below. If I am not mistaken it used to be called 'The Red Palace" or something like that. Many years later another building emerged. The one that you can see in the picture above.
THE SCULPTURE PARK, STADIUM & WOODEN ARCHITECTURE
Visitors often decide to take a walk in Linkuva sculpture park. Many years ago it belonged to so-called Balsevitynės manor. It changed a lot since then. Back in 2002, all low-value trees were removed. What's more, three ponds were dug and about 2,000 new trees and ornamental shrubs were planted. Canals connecting the ponds were decorated with wooden bridges. Two years later 10 sculptures emerged. The last time I was there, the installation of an outdoor gym was carried out.
Another town-wide important place is the Linkuva stadium. If you somehow end up in my hometown, don't forget to say Hi to my parents who live in the Stadium street. I used to see the Stadium trough my bedroom window for about 10 years. This is why it has a very special place in the imaginary box of my childhood memories. About a century ago at this particular place, there was located so-called Town Bazaar.
Last but not least I would like to mention the wooden architecture. Back in the day, I longed to leave for the big city as soon as possible. New connections, activities, and the hustle and bustle of a big city was something that I desired. 10 years have passed and a lot has changed. Sometimes it feels like the silence of my dearest hometown is something that recharges my batteries like no other thing. Without a doubt, a plethora of wooden architectural objects located all around the town is something that adds the most charm.
Linkuva, I love you!
Tautvydas Šlevas (Tot)
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