Sculptor Gintaras Karosas, Liubavas museum creator

Liubavas Discoveries

With this website we want to introduce the public to a little explored, old and incredibly interesting Liubavas Manor near Vilnius. We wish people to discover yet another important piece of the Lithuanian cultural mosaic, which I hope will not fade into oblivion as did many objects or phenomena of our heritage.

This website is a part of the project Restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill and its Adaptation to Cultural and Public Needs. The aim of the project is to restore the manor mill with all its technological equipment and turn it into Liubavas Manor Museum.

I discovered Liubavas in 1988. At that time I had already made the fist steps in creating Europos Parkas. Noticeable fact is that Liubavas Village with the manor house is very close to Europos Parkas - hardly three kilometres away. Very likely that until the middle of the 19th century the territory of the present Europos Parkas was a part of Liubavas estate. After some time, in late autumn I was again going from the park to Liubavas Manor by a stoned road - the trunks of the old trees planted along the road were full of flames. Liubavas surroundings touched me deeply, with the stone mill and a still standing chapel with the angel sculpture hiding behind imprinted into my memory.

Yet, it was too early for Liubavas yet - my twenty years experience was too short to grasp this mysterious manor.

As I said, Liubavas was little explored, except for a short historic statement of L. Vileikienė, articles of R. Aftanazis, M. Gajevskis and A. Pileckis, material at Ažulaukė library collected by schoolchildren. One can find many reasons for lack of interest in Liubavas. During the Soviet period, the manor was badly damaged and surrounded by new buildings. Most of the old inhabitants of Liubavas left for Poland in the after-war, leaving no people able to look after the manor and having knowledge about its water system. New inhabitants of the manor, who had come in the 1940-1950s mostly from Byelorussia, were not competent to maintain the manor, an important part of which was the ensemble of seven ponds. Buildings were quickly dilapidating, many of them were rebuilt, changed and damaged. Poor roads to the manor and bad communication were another reason why Liubavas was neglected.

We took several directions in exploring Liubavas. In terms of history, we wanted to find out and specify facts about the manor and its all owners. In terms of archaeology, we wanted to check several presumptions, find boundaries of the lost buildings. Architectural and polychromic research was aimed at determining the age, volume and reconstructions of some manor buildings. Besides, while looking for authentic things of the manor - exhibits for Liubavas Museum - I talked to descendants whose parents or grandparents served in Liubavas Manor.

The material found in the Lithuanian and Polish archives has lifted the historic veil from the manor. Liubavas Manor, the former elderate of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, always belonged to the then elite of politicians and people of culture. After the Grand Duke Žygimantas Augustas (Sigismund Augustus) and the nobleman Mykolas Radvila the Red (Mikołaj Radziwiłł Rudy), Liubavas Manor was owned by little explored noble families, including the Golejevskis (Golejewski) family, which according to historical sources were counts, and the Krišpinas Kiršenšteinas (Kryszpin-Kirszensztein), who considered themselves to be descendants from the Old Roman Empire. We have found several names of Liubavas owners who have never been associated with the past of this manor. The first to mention are the countess Teresė Tyzenhauzaitė and some members of the Tiškevičius family little noticed and almost forgotten by many historians. Lithuania still knows very little about the family of counts Slizienis (Slizień). They were the last owners of the manor. The first member of this family to settle in Liubavas manor was a rather mysterious person, Lithuanian sculptor of the middle of the 19th century Rapolas Slizienis (Rafał Slizień). By the way, he and his wife Kamilė Tiškevičiūtė are buried in the vault of the Liubavas chapel that possibly designed by the sculptor himself.

In his book "The Neris and its Banks" K. Tiškevičius (Konstanty Tyszkiewicz) rather vividly describes his relative, canon of Vilnius Cathedral Mikalojus Tiškevičius (Mikolaj Tyszkiewicz) who had a large orchestra when living in Liubavas Manor in the second half of the 18th century. The author also writes that the priest built a 2-storey baroque portal (where a dozen of servants lived) and the manor itself. In this particular case the author's wish to give as many merits to the Tiškevičius family as possible could be explained by that fact that the manor itself is considered to be of late origin. However, the historical sources say otherwise. The manor was mentioned far back in 1546, in the treasury books of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Žygimantas Augustas with a detail description of its ponds under reconstruction. The fact that the ornate baroque Liubavas portal was built by the canon Tiškevičius could also be questioned, bearing in mind that at the time the Baroque Period had already rolled into the Classicism. The portal could have been built by the Krišpinas Kiršenšteinas before the manor was taken over by the Tiškevičius.

The archaeological research revealed dense development of Liubavas Manor and a great variety of historical reconstruction layers. Findings of various centuries, wrecks of beautiful tiles dated in the 16th and later centuries were found. An important discovery was the old cemetery of Liubavas Manor. Elder locals have mentioned them before but up till now they have not been officially marked anywhere.

Architectural and polychromic research has identified the age of the servants' house (officine) and the greenhouse. Buildings happen to be older by at lease one century and built on foundations that were rebuilt several times. Their functions also constantly changed.

Among other important discoveries I would like to mention painting of Liubavas Manor, an armorial portiere of tribunal marshal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Steponas Slizienis (Stefan Slizien) (1705) and the original watercolour layout of the manor (1857). Although not many exhibits were found but they include the findings there were an authentic desk of Liubavas Manor, a mirror, some porcelain ware, candlesticks of the chapel, etc. These things together with others are displayed in Liubavas Museum - Liubavas Manor Mill.

The thorough research still leaves a lot of questions unanswered: starting with the supposed Liubavas mound which was later called a Hill of Three Crosses because of the three oaken crosses standing on it during the interwar, and ending up with searches for books of Liubavas Manor and Diderot's encyclopaedias the track of which disappeared in 1942. The almighty archaeology could help look for the famous baroque Liubavas portal. I kindly invite everyone and all who find any material related to Liubavas or families owning the manor, to share it with us and this way become one of Liubavas people - who love this beautiful manor with the name translated "Love".

I sincerely hope this website will move people to take interest in the history and culture of Lithuania, protect and explore our heritage instead of being indifferent, and cherish their love for our wonderful land.

Gintaras Karosas, 16 June 2010