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Druskininkai ([ˈdruskininkɐi], is a spa town on the Neman River in southern Lithuania, close to the borders of Belarus and Poland. The city of Druskininkai has a population of 18,233 (2001 Census) and dates back as a spa resort to the 19th century.
The name comes from the Lithuanian root "druska" which means salt. Versions of the name in other languages include: Belarusian: Дру́скенікі/Druskeniki, Latvian: Druskininki, Polish: Druskieniki, Russian: Друскининкай, Yiddish: דרוסקאניק/Druskanik.
According to some sources the site of present-day Druskininkai was inhabited by local Yotvingian tribes in the early Middle Ages. In the 13th century the area was conquered by the Lithuanians. A small castle was built in the area as a part of the defence system against the Teutonic Order. In 1308 the castle was conquered by the Teutonic Knights and destroyed, causing a depopulation of the area.

The first written mention of Druskininkai dates back to 1636. The name of the town suggests that the local population collected the precious mineral. In the late 18th century it was believed that minerals found in the waters of Druskininkai area produced health benefits and their usage in the medical treatment of asthma and other ailments began. In the early 19th century Ignacy Fonberger, a professor at the University of Vilnius, analyzed the chemical composition of Druskininkai's waters and showed that they contain large amounts of Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Iodine, Bromine, Iron and Magnesium. He also promoted the town as a holiday resort for the population of Vilnius.

In 1837 czar Nicholas I of Russia bestowed upon Druskininkai the status of a spa, and construction of pensions and hostels started. To ease communication to the spa, a ferry service on the Nemunas was started.

The spa became popular in many parts of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1862 the Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railway was opened and Druskininkai's railway station was placed only 19 km from the city. By the beginning of the 20th century the Druskininkai spa became one of the most popular resorts in the area, with tourists and convalescents coming from all over the world. It also became a place of summer residence for the middle class of Vilnius, Warsaw and Moscow.

After World War I the town became part of Poland (see Polish-Lithuanian conflict) and soon became one of the Polish resorts. Its popularity was increased by the patronage of Józef Piłsudski, who spent most of his summer holidays there and promoted the development of the area. Soon most of the resort was bought up by the state-owned Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego and the construction of luxurious villas and pensions started. In 1934 a railway link with the Porzecze train station was opened and the town became more accessible to the general public.

After Poland was invaded in September 1939, the town was briefly incorporated into the Belarusian SSR. However a month later, in October 1939, Stalin transferred Druskininkai to Lithuania which in turn was annexed in August of the following year and incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1951, Druskininkai began to grow rapidly again and several huge sanatoriums and spa hospitals were opened. The city became a famous resort, attracting around 400,000 visitors per year from all over the Soviet Union.

he dissolution of the Soviet Union was followed by economic difficulties faced by Lithuania and some of its resorts, due to the lack of many of their former tourists. In 2001 unemployment reached 29% in Druskininkai. Recently Druskininkai began a revival. Sanatoriums, spas and the city's infrastructure have been renovated by both the local government and privately-owned businesses.

Despite damage inflicted during World War I, the city features houses and villas reflecting all periods of its development - Russian, Polish and Lithuanian.

The first water park in Lithuania was opened in Druskininkai on 26 December 2006.

A new 18-hole Wolf golf course satisfying all international standards is opening in summer 2011 some 19 km to the northwest of Druskininkai near Leipalingis.

The Snow Arena (construction completed in August 2011) is one of the biggest indoor skiing slopes in Europe, with a year-round indoor slope length of 460 metres, width up to 63 metres, and a height difference of 65.65 metres. In addition there is a seasonal outdoor route of 640 metres.

There are a number of art and historical museums and galleries in the city. Many cultural events take place, most of them during spring, summer and fall.

During 1896–1910, famous Lithuanian composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis lived and worked in the city. A number of regular events take place at his memorial museum each year.

An annual poetry event, "Druskininkai poetic fall", began in 1985 and attracts authors from all over the world. In 2001, Grūtas park was opened near Druskininkai, exposing sculptures and other materials of the Soviet era.

There is also an annual International Arts Festival 'Druskininku vasara su M.K.Ciurlioniu' (eng. The summer in Druskininkai with Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druskininkai
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
1. Let's get started. A nice park with Druskonis lake [Salt lake], Vijūnėlis pond and tiny Mergelės Akys lake [Lake Nice Girl's Eyes]. The reconstruction of this park ended only some months ago.


2. It has sport fields.


3. Nice new sculptures. ;)


4.


5. New restaurants.


6. Some nameless ponds with fountains. ;)


7. New pedestrian and bike paths.


8.


9. Everyone can rent a boat or water bike. ;)


10.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
11.


12.


13. Quite overcrowded in summer. The town outrivaled Palanga long time ago. :)


14. Salt lake again. :)


15. These ducks don't need water bikes. ;)


16. But people need.


17. Many sculptures are placed to the lake. ;)


18. Lake banks are good for lazy sitting on the benches.


19.


20.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
21.


22.


23.


24. The Town museum is currently closed for reconstruction, but there are other museums and art galleries in the town. ;)


25. There are many poles scattered in the town that look like this:


26.


27.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, indeed. Druskininkai is the best looking among small and medium-sized Lithuanian towns. Actually it has some things even the largest cities of Lithuania (and not only Lithuania) envy. ;)

28. Durskininkai could be named "The most e-town" in the region.


29. It has excellent public transport network for a town of its size as well. There are 7 bus routes, e-ticket, displays, schemes at every bus stop. Actually even if we compare public transport in Druskininkai with Alytus, the later looks quite sad.


30. Town also has a well-developed network of bike paths.


31.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
32. Another park in the middle of the town. It also was renovated only recently. I don't know how many millions of flowers they have planted there!


33.


34. Notice another e-spot in the distance. ;)


35.


36. Municipality of the resort invested another 2 mio. Euros there.


37.


38.


39. The second musical fountain in Lithuania. ;)

Nice lighted in the evening, it plays to the classical music. :cheers:

40.


41.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
42.


43. Romantic places.


44. XIX c. cafe in the park.


45.


46.


47.


48. Never seen another town, where every pole is decorated with flowers!


49. Old + Modern hotel. :)


50.


51. Summer.



52. XIX c. municipality building.


53. Stunning church. Sad they do not build Gothic style buildings anymore :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Truly nice, developed town with pleasurable living space! But isn't it too brave to say it outrivaled Palanga in terms of tourists - is it really true?
In summer Palanga looks more overcrowded, but Druskininkai is a full-year resort, and there is nothing to do in Palanga in autumn, winter and spring.
Last December-January Druskininkai were full, and by 2012 02, the December-January period for this year was sold-out :lol:

According to the info from druskininkai.lt, last year the town was visited by 236 117 (20 128 from Latvia ;) ) tourists (those spending there more than a day), who have spent 981 578 nights in all accommodation establishments of the resort. These statistics "was worsened" by the fact, that the snow arena was opened only in autumn, so this year tourism statistics of the town skyrocketed to the space again! :)

And Palanga. Hmm. According to its tourism statistics of 2004-2009 (palanga.lt), it reached a peak in 2007, when Palanga was visited by 223 300 tourists, who have spent there 1 million+ nights, but then in the year 2009 it has fallen to 158 100 tourists and 769 thousand nights (at that time Druskininkai were rising dramatically). In the year 2010-2011 Palanga saw a little increase, but stayed behind Druskininkai. Of course, counting all "illegal tourists", who stay at babushkas', there should be more tourists in Palanga than officially, but no one knows how many. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
54.Another park in Druskininkai near Nemunas river, one of the longest rivers in Europe.


55.


56.


57. It is well-renovated ex-soviet park, filled with socrealism sculptures. :)


58.


59. There is a ship "Druskininkai".


60. Daily 3 hour long trips to nearby village Liškiava with its monastery and church - truly pearl of Lithuanian Baroque, are organized.


61. It can carry 100 people, but usually the trips are sold out, so hurry up :)


62.


63. Nemunas river is really wide here.


64. The second bridge in Druskininkai was opened last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
65. Another soviet-time sculpture, named "At the water well".


66. Nice, lively esplanade.


67. Side paths lead deeper into the park.


68. Some abstract soviet-time art. Looks really interesting.


69. Nude proletarian lady is reading Komsomolskaya Pravda during her leisure time in Druskininkai.


70.


71. Buvette inside the park.


72. Some building with soviet art on the roof, buvette and modern inclusion.


73. River-esplanade-park.


74. Flowers.


75. :naughty:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
76.


77. Natural mineral water pump room again. ;)


78. Inside this public drinking fountain serving natural spring mineral water.


79. There is one interesting object on the other bank of the river Nemunas, but about it later. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We will cross the river now via the new bridge.

80. Nemunas.


A little spam of superbe bike/pedestrian path (~2km long), that leads from the bridge, to the snow arena. The path is just perfect. No comments, just look at it!








Near the arena.










I don't get it :D




 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
93. And finally. The object, which could be envied not only by the other towns, but also the largest cities in the region - snow arena!


94.


95.



96. Outdoor slope, what is used in winter from beneath.


97. Looks really massive.


98. Huge structure!


99. Hundreds of people come here even in the middle of a week. Mostly cars with Lithuanian plates, but there are some with Polish, Belarusian, Russian or Latvian.


100. Some people came by bikes via that excellent bike road.


101. This building was built in a place, where young forest was. Unfortunately they had to cut some trees.


102.


Future champion and skier legend? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
104. Snoras :D


105. TVs in local sky bar show the best episodes from the skiing in the arena live.


106.


107.


108.
 

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Can't really help about the photos, so here's a video :)


Druskininkai just started constructing gondolas which will connect two major city's attraction - aqua park and indoor skying track. Firs gondola's in Lithuania.



Also Druskininkai got the biggest Like sign in the world :) placed on the Snow Arena
 
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