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About Lithuania » Druskininkai


Some facts: Druskininkai (pop. 16 900) is the largest and oldest resort in Lithuania, located in the south of the country, 120 km from Vilnius and Kaunas. The resort is famous for its old sanatorium treatment traditions, wonderful nature and rapidly developing tourism services infrastructure. The resort has long been famous for its mineral waters and curative mud, which currently are combined with modern technologies and have a great value for health services. Druskininkai is the international resort for active recreation and treatment, which is aimed at the wide spectrum entertainment industry with its highly developed modern service infrastructure. The resort infrastructure is developed in these directions – sanatorium treatment, tourism, recreation, entertainment and commercial sporting activities. The wide range of available services is suitable for people of all ages.
History: The name of the locality derived from a word ‘druska’ (salt). Druskininkas (salt-man) is a person, who was engaged in extraction, selling, and delivering of salt. The settlement with springs full of mineral salts was known from old times. In the territory of present town and its environs there were some archaeological findings discovered from the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras: stone hatchets, flint-ware, and pottery remains. According to researchers of the history of the resort, already in the 13th century, when Lithuanians were fighting against the Teutonic Order, at the confluence of the Nemunas and Ratnyčia rivers there stood a defensive castle. The first so far known written source, which mentions Druskininkai, is Lithuanian Metrics. Sanative power of springs was firstly evaluated by local villagers, who noticed, that after a short wading in some springs near the Nemunas river, ulcerous legs recover faster. That is why, already in the 17th century, some smarter people from Druskininkai started ‘healing’. A dynasty of folk doctor Sūrutis (Sūrmietis, Surautis) became very famous in the 18th century. Under an order of the king, a mansion doctor started investigating sanative features of Druskininkai mineral water. By decree of June 20, 1794, Druskininkai was announced a sanative locality. However, Druskininkai became a real spa in 1835 after professor of Vilnius university I. Fonberg brought out data about researches of chemical composition of Druskininkai mineral water. In 1838, there was built a convalescent home of 14 baths, which was expanded in 1840–1841 up to 50 places (this home was destroyed by the fire in 1894). After the fire even a larger brick balneological convalescent home of 150 places was built there. Already in 1841 there was established an association of the Medical Faculty in Druskininkai. Its aim was to improve and develop resort treatment. At the end of the 19th century Druskininkai was well-known not only in the entire tsarist Russian Empire, but outside it as well. Druskininkai suffered badly during World War I. Though the first resort season was officially opened after the war, in spring of 1923, however, the spa was re-established only in 1930, when the initiative was taken over by the Bank of Polish Region. At that time some new boring springs were started to be exploited, and the number of patients was growing. Many new villas were built. In the Soviet period the infrastructure of the resort was tailored to mass treatment of people from the USSR. At that time there operated 10 sanatoriums, convalescent homes of mineral water, curative mud, and physiotherapy. Around 400,000 people were taking rest in a year. Druskininkai is glorified not only by unique natural sources, but also by artists who earned world lustre. It was a residence place of a painter and composer M. K. Čiurlionis and a birthplace of a famous sculptor modernist Jacques Lipchitz.
Town: Druskininkai has 9 sanatoriums and one balneological bath, which can serve about 6000 people at a time. The most advanced technologies of diagnostic and treatment along with a wide range of procedures, including underwater massage, Jacuzzi, and the mineral, pearl, oxygen, vertical, herbal and mud baths, are applied at the sanatoriums. All the sanatoriums have pools, saunas, training facilities and beauty parlours. The town also has a health centre and 7 mineral water springs. Druskininkai is gaining in popularity as a venue of seminars, conferences or meetings. The resort has several very beautiful and cosy small hotels. At the end of 2006, an Aqua Park, the biggest and most modern in the Baltics, will be launched in Druskininkai. It will offer a large variety of entertainments for both adults and children as well as a wide choice of relaxation procedures. The scenic nature of Druskininkai and the neighbouring Dzūkija National Park is another “curative” component. A great number of hiking paths, several cycling routes will take you to the most interesting places of the environs, including Švendubrė and other ethnographic villages, and the mystic valley of Raigardas. You can also cycle to the park-museum of Grūtas displaying monsters of the Soviet era or visit the hill-forts of Liškiava and Merkinė on the banks of the rivers. The lovers of water pleasures are offered to go canoeing or kayaking on water routes, enjoy a trip by a steamboat, or go fishing. Druskininkai boasts a large supply of entertainments for active holidays.
Accommodation: Druskininkai offer plenty of options for all tastes and budgets, from straightforward hotels, to all-inclusive deals including therapies at one of the town's many sanatoriums. A few cheap and cheerful self-catering packages are also on offer.