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Special Vilnius route: Walk along the Puckoriai Path

Walk along the Pūčkoriai Path

If you adore nature and long for tranquillity, take a walk in Pavilniai Regional Park and enjoy the Vilnia valley. The Pūčkoriai historical and informative path extending itself along the river will let you feel a whiff of nature.
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Walk along the Pūčkoriai Path
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1. Geological Pūčkoriai Exposure
Pūčkoriai exposure is considered to be one of the highest and most impressive exposures in Lithuania – a perfect starting point for your trip in order to get acquainted with Lithuania’s nature. This unique geological monument was declared protected in 1974. Its height equals 65 metres, and it has a width of 260 metres. It was formed by the last glaciers and by the Vilnia River expanding sideways and broading its valley. The exposure leads to the Belmontas pinery, a hiding place for members of the secret associations of philaretos and philamatos who were in opposition to the 19th century Tsar’s regime. Nearby the exposure are several Polish built bunkers, which belong to the Vilnius defence system of the 20th century.

2. Pūčkoriai Industrial Complex
Pūčkoriai defence system belongs to the Pūčkoriai estate (folwark), which can be easily reached by a path from the remains of a French water mill. Next to the exposure, there is a big and well equipped cannon foundry with cooling ponds and gunpowder mills, which was built in the 16th century. That was the reason the estate was the property of the Treasury of the Great Dutchy of Lithuania. The cannon foundry was supervised by cavalry leaders up to the middle of the 17th century. Cannons of different sizes were cast in Pūčkoriai cannon foundry, since formidable arming attracted a great deal of attention of the then society. The foundry was equipped with cannon testing and cavalry instruction areas. Swedish, Russian (Peter the Great), and French (Napoleon) military divisions used the equipment of the foundry to repair their cannons. One of the most beautiful and largest Lithuanian mills functioned in the Pūčkoriai (Puškarnia) estate at the beginning of the 19th century. It had 12 millstones. At the end of the 19th century the mill was equipped for paper manufacturing. In 1905 Puškarnia was mentioned as a wood processing factory, and in 1909, it manufactured cardboard, cellulose, writing paper as well as paper material for the Kučkuriškiai paper factory. All of its buildings were mostly destroyed during the Second World War. The old water channel, dams and remains of the mill have survived up to the present day.

3. Vilnia Valley
Pūčkoriai exposure is a perfect place to enjoy the marvellous view of the Vilnia valley. The Vilnia River curves in the centre of Pavilniai Regional Park. The slopes of the valley are diverse and complex, sometimes vertically scarred and exposed, with old hills and barrows sheltered on them. The Vilnia River is the left tributary of the Neris River and its length exceeds 80 kilometres. After crossing Naujoji Vilnia area, the river flows into the territory of Pavilniai Regional Park. In Vilnius it meets the Neris River right at the foot of Gediminas Hill. Here it resembles a wild mountain river with various fish of the Salmonidae family coming here to spawn. The Vilnia valley was the main cradle of Vilnius industry as well as the main source of energy. The first Vilnius workshops, mills and brickyards were established there. The place has three old water dams situated near each other: the Kučkuriškiai paper factory, Pūčkoriai mill and paper factory and the French mill.

4. French Mill (Belmontas)
The remains of a water dam of the French water mill stand on the beautiful Vilnia curve on its right bank. A new and convenient path has been devised in place of the old one. Charles De Vim, a Frenchman, built a brick mill on the territory of the Leoniškės estate at the beginning of the 19th century. Some of auxiliary constructions were equipped as a pub, despite the fact that the local authorities of the city of Vilnius did not approve of such a venture. As time went by, the mill, its auxiliaries and land would change owners without changing its functions. It functioned as a mill after the Second World War, and people still remembered its French name that was given to it by its first owner, who was French. Today Belmontas has changed a lot and now it is an entertainment centre with a network of restaurants.

5. Lower Pavilnys
The path goes along the railway and it becomes clear that the slopes of the Vilnia River are closely related to the history of Lithuanian railways. In 1851, the ruler of tsarist Russia authorised the building of the St. Petersburg-Warsaw Railway. In 1858 the building of the Daugpilis-Vilnius-Kaunas-Virbalas (Kybartai) railway section, which crossed the hills of Pavilnys, was launched. On 15 April 1862 the region of Pavilnys saw the first train crossing in the direction of the city of Vilnius. The steel railway and the trains running on it had a great influence on the formation of settlements of railway maintenance personnel in the Lower and Upper regions of Pavilnys. The railway personnel established “The Association of Dwelling Houses Construction”, commonly referred to as the Colony. In 1911 they bought 80 ha of the territory of contemporary Pavilnys right next to the railway. Its lower area was divided into 20 sites, whereas the upper area had 180 sites. Later on, the construction of dwelling houses was launched there. “Live in the city, work in the Colony” – that was the motto of the Colony founders.

6. Ponds
The section of the Vilnia River from the hill to the Pūčkoriai estate dwelling area presents a vast range of ponds forged many years ago and nourished by bountiful springs. Pūčkoriai ponds were used as an auxiliary farming means to breed carps, crucians, pikes and other fish. The ponds are favoured by wild ducks, pullets and coots. In midsummer herons and their offspring usually hunt here, with storks and predator birds whirling around. The ponds are inhabited by otters, beavers and water-rats.

7. Springs
Vilnius is picturesque in its landscape and rich in groundwater springs which fed the old city. Geological development of the surroundings of the capital was favourable for the formation of springs. The Vilnia valley is dominated by till and loam drifted by glaciers, with large aquiferous interstratum spots in places. Groundwater springs come from aquiferous sediment which prevails on the left bank of the Vilnia River. These sources replenish vicinal ponds, the Vilnia River, and once they helped to drive waterwheels of Pūčkoriai mill.

8. Pūčkoriai Mound
Pūčkoriai mound and the remains of an ancient settlement discovered in its surroundings remind us of the oldest times on the territory of the regional park. Archeological findings indicate that this place was inhabited by people as far back as the Stone Age. The mound is surrounded by the Vilnia valley with its eastern part isolated by a dip and its south east side joining the main hills through a wasteland. Archeologists have found barely scratched ceramic smithereens, an iron sickle, and remains of stone grinding processes. Pūčkoriai mound was also used for defence purposes from the first centuries of our era until the 13th-14th centuries. It also relates to Vilnius defence section as well as the famous Alšėniškiai family.

9. Sundial
The Pūčkoriai informative path is equipped with quite a number of tranquil and cosy places for visitors to have short rest breaks. The best place to rest is a field in the Vilnia valley. There is a sundial standing there decorated with an impressive column and small stone columns to indicate the time.

10. Pūčkoriai Estate (folwark)
Archaeological sources claim the Pūčkoriai (Puškarnia) estate to have existed at the foot of the exposure as far back as the 14th century. However, the estate remains that we witness today, date back only to the 18th and early 19th century and are situated on both banks of the Vilnia River. They include a stack yard, a barn, a stable and former peon dwelling premises. The main house and the fruit tree garden have been restored and finely decorated.
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