Ukmerge – Lithuania

The act of Partnership was signed: 9.03.1999 r.

Our acquaintance with the Region of Ukmerge was established in 1998. At that time, Tadeusz Czajka, who was the Vice- President of the Commune Board, met with the representatives of this Lithuanian region during the first Polish-Lithuanian Forum organized by the Mayors of Warsaw and Vilnius. He invited them to our Commune and… we just hit it off. Less than a year later, on March 9, 1999, a partnership agreement was executed and the document was signed by the Commune Head Waldy Dzikowski and Mayor Antonas Dambrauskas. They both declared to build cooperation in the field of youth exchange, local groups and organizations as well as local governments. The friendship lasts to this day.

Ukmerge, called Wiłkomierz in Polish, is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania. The castle is said to be built around 1225 (the castle ruins are on a hill in the city park until today). Ukmerge obtained city rights in the early 15th century. One of the most important events in the history of the region was the medieval battle of Wiłkomierz, it took place on September 1, 1435 (the largest battle in Lithuania). At that time, the Polish army of Jakub Kobylański and Lithuanian of Zygmunt Kiejstutowicz defeated more numerous troops of the Teutonic Knights of Livonia, Swidrygiello and the Tartars. The battle ended with the total defeat of Swidrygiello and finally broke the power of the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order.

While being today in Ukmerge, it is definitely worth to see the Neoclassical Catholic church under the invocation of St. Peter and Paul from 1800 with valuable interior furnishings and a belfry standing next to it. The history of another Catholic church is also interesting – church under the invocation of Holy Trinity. This so-called school church, funded together with the monastery of Piarists from the contributions of the local nobility in 1863, was rebuilt into the Eastern Orthodox church architecture, then in 1919 it was returned to Catholics. After the war, it remained closed for many years and it was not until 1991 that it was again made available to the faithful.

Our cooperation with Ukmerge focuses primarily on the international meetings of both communities, organized by the Lithuanian commune (international youth camps, photographic locations, workshops for volunteers). It is obvious that local governmental units cooperate with each other – delegations from Ukmerge regularly participate in international conferences organized in Tarnowo Podgórne as part of the Commune Days, sharing examples of good practices implemented in the Region. Our representatives are also visiting the celebration of Ukmerge.

It is worth noticing that the meetings of local authorities in Ukmerge result in establishing contacts with more communes. We met representatives of the Italian Cologno al Serio and Latvian Livani at this very place, and we signed partnership agreements with them later on. It was also in Ukmerge that a permanent renewal of cooperation with Kamieniec Podolski from Ukraine happended. Ukmerge is certainly a meeting place!