We are making our way from the beautiful Palanga Botanical Garden and Amber Museum to the resort area of Palanga……….If you missed the first post on this city you may want to read it so you can get your bearing and learn some fun facts about this beautiful setting in Lithuania! Driving down a wide boulevard we come to what seems to be the happening place in Palanga! There are families everywhere! This looks to be the place where everyone wants to be on this sunny warm day! There is definitely a resort vibe to the streets. There are many restaurants and shops and lots of families out for the day!
These first photos are on the Main Avenue arriving at the resort area.
This cute, teal-blue shop has the bikes all ready to go!
And, there is a small Memorial Park dedicated to General Jonas Žemaitis. I had to do some research on him since the sign was written in Lithuanian……….General Žemaitis was born in Palanga, but moved with his family to Poland at an early age. At the age of seventeen, he moved back to his grandparents home in Lithuania. He started studies at the War College and was noted as a very good student and athlete. By 1936, he was in Fontainebleu, France, studying at the School of Applied Artillery. Finishing his studies, he was promoted to Captain and commanded the artillery units of the Lithuanian Military Forces.
In June of 1940, the Soviets occupied Lithuania, and Žemaitis continued his active service with the 2nd Artillery Regiment. At the beginning of the war between the Soviet Union and Nazi, Germany, he remained with his troops, but when they were ordered to retreat to the east he and a group of his men fell behind deliberately and surrendered to the Germans. He got away from them and hid out until he could return to Lithuania, where he joined the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force. That unit was disbanded and he joined the Lithuanian Freedom Army, a group of underground freedom fighters. Eventually, he was their leader and that group resisted any Soviet occupation for many years and continued after the war. In 1951, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and became paralyzed, In May 1953, his hiding place was discovered by Soviet agents and he was arrested. He was taken to Moscow and interrogated and then executed in the Butyrka Prison in 1954. When I decided to learn more about this prison, I found it is still in use today and known for its overcrowding. On average, 100 inmates are housed in a cell built to hold ten men. Tuberculosis and AIDS flourishes and diseased men are deliberately added to cells with healthy men to reduce their numbers. Since many inmates are drug users, they are allowed to share one needle per cell! Nice place! And, this is the state of the prison today! I was shocked to see the long list of famous and worthy people, who had died in this prison…………. General Žemaitis is a national hero in Lithuania!
Today, the Military Academy of Lithuania is named after him. In March 2009, he was awarded, posthumously, the rank of Brigadier General and was officially named the fourth President of Lithuania.
There is a very beautiful flower garden here also……………
On the other side of the street from the Žemaitis Memorial, is the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary…….I could not find out very much about this church, except that there has been a church of some kind at this location for a very long time. No doubt, during Soviet Occupation it was used for something else. Now, it has been beautifully re-stored. It is also the place, although not the same church, that General Žemaitis was baptized in.
The church gate………
The church has a very calming and serene effect……….
Walking to a wide promenade, that looks like it stretches to the sea, you can look back and see that the Church and the Memorial are right there to remind you of days gone by and how fortunate the Lithuanians are to have finally broke the yoke of the Soviet Union!
This is a happy place with restaurants and flower parks and more restaurants and shopping…………..
And little trinket stands for a souvenir………
This pedestrian walkway goes on and on………we didn’t even have enough time to get to the end of it, or explore all the shops……….
There are also cute little apartments to rent for the summer……..a real resort!
and more restaurants………
and more restaurants……General Žemaitis would be proud of all this!
But, we have one more area of the city to explore before we have to return to the ship, so we better get a move on! We’re making our way to the canal! See you there!