Druskininkai

From Academic Kids

Druskininkai (Belarusian: Druskieniki; Polish: Druskienniki) is a spa town on Neman River in Lithuania, close to the borders to Belarus and Poland.

Geography

The town is located at the Ratnycia River estuary to the Neman River. It is surrounded by a natural forest reserve.

The town is situated in a picturesque landscape with lakes, hills and forests. Druskininkai has a population of nearly 25,000 and dates back as a spa to the 19th century.

History

According to some sources the site of the present-day Druskininkai was inhabitated by local Prussian tribes as early as early Middle Ages. In 13th century the area was conquered by Lithuanians and converted to Christianity. A small castle was built in the area as a part of the defence system against the Teutonic Order. However, the castle was conquered and destroyed in 1308 and soon the area was depopulated.

The first mention of the present-day Druskininkai dates back to 1636. The name comes from Lithuanian root druska meaning salt. It suggests that local population has been collecting this precious mineral. In late 18th century it was discovered that minerals found in the waters of Druskienniki area are healthy and their usage in medical treatment of asthmatics started. In early 19th century Ignacy Fonberger, the University of Wilno professor, focused on analysis of chemical composition of Druskienniki waters and found out that they contain large amounts of Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Iodine, Bromine, Iron and Magnesium. He also promoted the locality as a holiday resort for the population of Wilno.

In 1837 czar Nicholas I of Russia bestowed on Druskienniki the status of spa, and construction of wooden pensions and hostels started. To ease the communication with the world a ferry service at Niemen was started.

Soon the place became popular among other parts of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1862 a railway line linking Warsaw and Petersburg was opened and its station was placed only 19 kilometres from the city. By the beginning of the 20th century Druskienniki spa resort became one of the most popular resorts in the area, with tourists and reconvalescents coming from all over the world. It also became a place of summer residence for middle class of Vilnius, Warsaw and Moscow.

After World War I the town became part of the restored Poland and soon became one of the three most popular Polish resorts. Its popularity was increased by Józef Piłsudski, who spent most of his summer holidays here and promoted the development of the area. Soon most of the resort part was bought by state-owned Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego and construction of luxurious villas and pensions started. In 1934 a railway link with the Porzecze train station was opened and the town became opened to a wide public.

After the Soviet aggression in 1939 and a staged "referendum", the town was incorporated into Belarusian SSR.

After the World War II the town transferred to the Lithuanian SSR. Soon several huge sanatoria and spa hospitals were opened. Nowadays, approximately 30 different illnesses are treated in Druskininkai. Today, the town is a separate administrative entity governed directly by the government of Lithuania.

External links

de:Druskininkai lt:Druskininkai lv:Druskininki no:Druskininkai pl:Druskienniki

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