The northern Lithuanian city of Rokiskis and the surrounding region are lovely stopovers during your exploration of Lithuania or on your way to Latvia from Lithuania. This town and its surroundings offer pretty manor houses and parks, expansive boulevards, and an unusual tradition of painted shutters. Let’s dive in to what Rokiskis, Lithuania, has to offer.
The Painted Shutters of Rokiskis
One aspect of this town that you should pay attention to is its painted shutters. For approximately two decades, Rokiskis has been attracting visitors with its lovely wooden houses and their painted shutters, which reflect folk elements, modern themes, or images that tell a story.
While the tradition of painted shutters in Rokiskis looks like an old one, they are actually a modern-day inspiration. Of course, people have been decorating their village houses for centuries with decorative details and paint, and so some of the images on the shutters do have a rustic or naïve look about them. What’s common is that they’re all unique, done by different artists, and are worth dedicated examination.
The city has long had a connection to cheese. Lithuania has a strong tradition of producing high-quality dairy products, so it’s not surprising that a dairy—first owned by a count and then turned into a cooperative—has existed there since before 1925.
The current Rokiskis cheese factory dates from 1964. Lithuania was a part of the USSR during this time, and so Rokiskis supplied cheese to other Soviet Republics.
When Lithuania gained its independence, the Rokiskis cheese factory was privatized. Today, you can easily find Rokiskis cheese and other dairy products in supermarkets throughout Lithuania.
How to See the City of Rokiskis
If you only have a short amount of time, one of the best ways to see Rokiskis is to start at the west end of Nepriklausomybes (Independence) Square, at St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Church. Pop inside the church to view the Neogothic interior and the stained-glass windows.
Then continue down the large square, being sure to look back to take in the view of the church from the outside. The planning of the square is nicely done, with all important details featured well.
As you travel along the square, you can examine buildings with painted shutters. These line the square, but you can also find painted shutters on other streets, such as Kauno, Kęstucio, Ąžuolų, Sodų, Vilnius, and Mikėno.
As you travel down the square, be sure to note the Independence monument as well as the monument to Rokiskis’s long history, represented by an archway.
You’ll also find cafes and the tourist information center on this street.
Rokiskis Manor Grounds
Continue straight onto Tyzenhaus g., where you’ll enter a part of the city that that’s nothing short of idyllic. The road passes over a reservoir, on either side of which are also historical buildings. You may even see the black swans that live there.
Continue on and you’ll see the gates to the park of Rokiskis Manor.
Rokiskis Manor House and Regional Museum
The early 19th-century Rokiskis Manor—which replaced earlier iterations of the manor—was built by the Tyzenhaus family for which the street that leads to it is named.
The manor house now contains the Rokiskis Regional Museum, which exhibits photographs, paintings, and objects depicting life in the city and the region in the past.
You can also stroll around the park and have a look at some of the manor’s outbuildings—you’ll find more painted shutters here!
Don’t stop your exploration of Rokiskis at the city. The surrounding region has some sights and activities that will make your trip rich with experiences.
Ilzenbergas Manor is special for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a working manor, producing products for the table that you can buy at shops, such as cheese, meat, and bread. Second, it’s an interactive experience that allows you to take a part of the day to explore the grounds and learn more about how a manor works.
At the entrance to the park, you can’t miss the large potato sculpture, which honors Lithuanians’ love of potatoes and the impressive amount they consume every year.
Entry to the manor park requires a ticket, which you can buy from the small shop near the entrance.
Ilzenbergas Manor offers guided tours, which will give you all the pertinent information about the manor house, as well as tasting experiences of the manor’s products. You can also stroll through the park yourself—be sure to take in the island on the lake—and grab lunch or dinner there.
Salos Manor is one of those places where, instead of learning about the history of the manor, you’ll see evidence of its lack of preservation. Soviet-era changes to the manor make it seems ill-used. However, a folk artists’ residence, which opened in 2021, has helped to bring new life to the manor. Inside, you’ll find a shop where you can buy the works of local artists.
In the back of the manor is a lake, the view of which you can see from a balcony on the manor. It’s here that you can imagine how the manor may have looked in its heyday and how luxurious it must have been to live in a manor with such a location.
Obeliai (“Apple Trees”) is a town you may drive through getting to or from Rokiskis. Its church and large cemetery make an impressive view as you approach. You’ll also pass a little square with plenty of greenery and wooden buildings—you’ll find it as sweet as the fruit from the trees it’s named for.
There’s also a picturesque wooden windmill in Obeliai perched on a hill. When the sun is at an angle, it looks like a painting.
Other Locations with Painted Shutters
You can see more painted shutters in the Rokiskis districts in the villages of Jurgiškiai, Kamajai, Antakriaunis, Bajorai, Salai, and Šetekšnai.
While Rokiskis may be too far north of Vilnius to make an easy day trip, it can work well as a weekend trip or as a stop on your way to Latvia. You can combine it with a trip, for example, to Daugavpils.