Utena district municipality

  Administrative centre – Utena
  Area – 1230 km² (17.1 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 47 934 (27.8 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Daugailiai, Kuktiškės, Leliūnai, Saldutiškis, Sudeikiai, Tauragnai,   Utena, Utena town, Užpaliai, Vyžuonos

Utena district municipality is located in the north-western part of the Aukštaičiai Upland, in the basin of the Šventoji River. It is a region of uplands, small hills, thick forests and picturesque lakes. The south-eastern part of Utena district, with its beautiful pinewoods, lakes, small rivers and streams, falls within the Aukštaitija National Park. The important reserves are Stabulankiai and Vajeliai geological, Pakalniai and Vaiskūnai geomorphological, Žiezdriai landscape, Balčiai telmological. The highest point – Piliakalnis Hill (246 m). There are a few rivers (the Šventoji with a tributary the Vyžuona); however, there are as many as 186 lakes – Tauragnas (the deepest (60.5 m) and the highest above sea level (165 m) lake in Lithuania), Alaušas (famed for its clear water and long spits), Aisetas (buried in the heart of pinewoods, as much as 16 km long) and many other lakes. There are the Minčia, Vyžuonos, Dvarašilis, Varniškės, Daunorai, Užupis and other forests (mostly pinewoods); Labanoras forest starts to the south from Kuktiškės and Saldutiškis. Agricultural land makes up 50.7 %, forests – 31.9 %, roads – 2.1 %, built-up area – 2.8 %, water bodies – 4.9 %, other land – 7.7 % of the municipality.

There is one town – Utena, and eight townships – Daugailiai, Kuktiškės, Leliūnai, Saldutiškis, Sudeikiai, Tauragnai, Užpaliai and Vyžuonos.

Utena is an administrative centre of the district municipality and a county centre, the unofficial capital of Aukštaitija region – one of the oldest places in Lithuania. A wooden church by the small river Utenėlė was for the first time mentioned in written sources (a letter of the King Mindaugas) in 1261. In 1373–1375, in the course of the march of the Crusaders to Lithuania, Utena and its environs were devastated; in 1433, Utena Castle was destroyed. A township started growing at the current location of Utena as late as in the 14th century. In 1416, a church was built, merchants and craftsmen were settling in the township. The construction of a Warsaw–Saint Petersburg railway line in 1835 was of crucial importance to the town. A big post station was built, a narrow-gauge railway was constructed. The town was rapidly growing. However, houses were built very close to each other, and in 1879, with an outbreak of fire, three-fourths of the town burnt down. Until World War I, Utena was a district (valsčius) centre. In the course of World War I, Utena county was established, which was annulled as late as in 1950. The current town went beyond its traditional, historic boundaries and enfolded Dauniškis and Vyžuonaitis lakes, reached the Vyžuona River and Skaistašilis forest.

Utena is an important cultural, educational and industrial (food and light industry) centre. Today, such enterprises as a private company Švyturys-Utenos alus, public companies Utenos trikotažas, Utenos mėsa, known both in Lithuania and abroad, function in the district. There is Utena College, art and music schools, Utena special education and training and children’s social assistance and education centres.

The Utena museum of regional studies not only stores the collected exhibits, but also organises folk art, professional artists’, photography, schoolchildren’s work exhibitions.

There are many castle mounds (Narkūnai, Užpaliai, Kalviai, Andreikėnai and others), manor homesteads (Užpaliai, Bikuškis, Avižieniai) and parks. Visitors are attracted by Strazdai, Šuminai, Vaišnoriškės ethnographical villages. The church of the Holy Trinity in Užpaliai, the church of St George in Vyžuonos and other churches are interesting from the architectural point of view. A former horse post station and a synagogue are worth visiting. A biennial international folk music and dance festival Ežerų sietuva takes place.

Useful links

Utena district municipality
Utena tourism information centre