Šilutė district municipality

  Administrative centre – Šilutė
  Area – 1706 km² (32.7 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 52 960 (14 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Gardamas, Juknaičiai, Katyčiai, Kintai, Rusnė, Saugai, Šilutė,   Švėkšna, Usėnai, Vainutas, Žemaičių Naumiestis

Šilutė district municipality is situated in the southern part of Klaipėda county, near the Curonian (Kuršių) Lagoon. The Curonian (Kuršių) Spit separates it from the Baltic Sea. As far back as in the 9th century, the old trade way of the Vikings led from the Baltic Sea via the Curonian Lagoon up the Nemunas. The municipality borders on Kaliningrad Region (Russian Federation). The largest part of the territory is situated on the Pajūris Lowland. At the southern border, there flows the Nemunas with tributaries the Jūra, Gėgė, Veižas, Leitė, Šyša. The Tenenys and Veiviržas empty into the Minija. There are 55 lakes (the largest one – Krokų Lankos), 8 ponds, as well as a big and distinctive Aukštumalė marsh. Rather large are the forests of Aukštieji, Žąsyčiai, Dinkiai. There are the Rambynas landscape, Kintai and Pleinė botanical, Meškinė pedological reserves, Nemunas Delta Regional Park, etc. Agricultural land makes up 49.6 %, forests – 22.3 %, roads – 1.4 %, built-up area – 1.7 %, water bodies – 20.4 %, other land – 4.5 % of the municipality.

There is one town (Šilutė) and seven townships (Gardamas, Katyčiai, Kintai, Rusnė, Švėkšna, Vainutas and Žemaičių Naumiestis). The centre of the district municipality – Šilutė – was first mentioned in the 16th century. The famous fish market in Šilutė has been functioning for almost half a millennium. Peasants – farmers (so-called laukininkai) – were coming to the Šilutė market from Žemaitija region, while fishermen – not only from Rusnė, Mingė, Karklė and sandy Nida and Karvaičiai dunes, but also from the faraway Labguva. Šilutė was pursuing city rights for a long period; however, it was opposed by rivals – Klaipėda and Tilžė towns. In 1818–1939 and 1945–1950, it was a county centre. After World War II, Šilutė was the centre of the movement for the unification of Klaipėda Region and Lithuania. One might call Šilutė the Lithuanian capital of magnolias, whereas there are a lot of these flowering plants in the town, while in 1992 the Šilutė District Council declared the oldest, parent plants of magnolia to be local monuments.

Fishing, wood processing, furniture and food industry are developed in the district.

After the Nemunas Delta Regional Park had been established, this place became open, easier accessible to amateur fishermen, tourists and holidaymakers. The park administration arranged many recreational sites, quays, scenic viewpoints (towers). Particular attention is devoted to fishermen. Currently, licensed amateur fishing is allowed on the Rusnė Island and in the Minija River (from the estuary to the Kintai Bridge). However, the most attractive is ice fishing, which takes place on ice of the Curonian Lagoon and the rivers of Atmata, Pakalnė, Skirvytė. There are special sites arranged in the park where one can pitch a tent, hire rowing or motor boats, find a guide – instructor – who knows fishing places, park a car.

Cultural and educational activities are carried out by the Šilutė Museum, whose objective is to preserve the unique heritage of Lithuania Minor and continue cultural traditions, cultivate the historical perception of the land, folk art, craft traditions. There are the following permanent exhibitions: Furniture of the Lietuvininkai (Prussian Lithuanians) in the middle of the 18th century; Estate furniture of the 19th century; Maps and documents of the 17th century; Nature of Šilutė district; Exposition of folk life. The largest share of museum visitors is made up of foreign tourists and schoolchildren. By the number of museum visitors, Šilutė district only lags behind the major cities of Lithuania.

One may familiarise himself with the interior of the houses of the Baltic littoral in the private ethnographical fisherman’s homestead-museum in Rusnė. In the homestead-museum, quite a number of traditional ethnographical events and festivals take place, excursions are organised. The museum is well-known across Lithuania, and is popular among Lithuanian and foreign tourists. There is another museum on the Rusnė Island – the Museum of Polders, founded in the first water lifting station, whose main exhibit is an old steam engine. The Ventė Cape, where one of the oldest bird banding stations in Europe is located, also attracts many tourists. There is an exhibition functioning at the bird banding station, which introduces visitors to bird migration ways, bird banding history, the variety of bird species. There is a museum of books functioning in the public library of Fridrichas Bajoraitis of Šilutė district municipality, which stores more than 3000 rare printed matters, bookplates, manuscripts, a collection of work of art of Australian, US, Canadian, Russian, Estonian, Belgian and other foreign artists. There is a memorial room of a philosopher, writer and dramatist Wilhelm Storost (Vilhelmas Storosta-Vydūnas) outfitted in the museum.

The main event taking place in Šilutė district – the Šilutė town festival, where various art groups participate, competitions, exhibitions, sports events, folk art and old craft fairs are organised. There is also a popular event uniting people loving unconventional art – a festival 9 days of art (9 meno dienos), in the course whereof professional Lithuanian and foreign art is exhibited.

Useful links
Šilutė district municipality
Šilutė tourism and business information centre