name = Panevėžys
settlement_type = City municipality
map_caption = Location of Panevėžys
image_shield = Panevezys city COA.gif
image_caption = Panorama of Panevėžys downtown
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = LTU
subdivision_type1 = Ethnographic region
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_type3 = Municipality
subdivision_name3 = Panevėžys city municipality
subdivision_type6 = Capital of
Aukštaitija(unofficial) Panevėžys County
Panevėžys city municipality
Panevėžys district municipality
Panevėžys rural eldership
established_date = 1503
established_title = First mentioned
established_date2 = 1837
established_title2= Granted city rights
population_total = 129,014
population_as_of = 2007
area_total_km2 = 50
Panevėžys (pronunciation|Panevezys.ogg, pronEng|pʌnɛvɛˈʒıs) is the fifth largest city in
Lithuania. It occupies 50 square kilometers with more than 115,000 inhabitants.
Panevėžys was first mentioned in 1503, in documents signed by the
Grand Duke of LithuaniaAlexander I, who granted the town building rights to construct a church and other structures. Alexander II, is considered the founder of the city, which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2003. The city lies on the old plain of the Nevėžis River. The city name means "along the Nevėžis." Throughout the 16th century, the city maintained a status of a Royal town. Communities of Poles, and Karaites, settled in the area as early as the 14th century. A Karaite Kenesa, and a Polish Gymnasium, existed in Panevėžys until the Second World War(the Polish version of the name of the city was "Poniewież"). In the 17th century, the part of the city on the left bank of the river started to develop and expand further. The town played an important role in both the November Uprising, and the January Uprising, and the fights for independence continued there in 1864. After the Industrial Revolution, at the end of the 19th century, the first factories were established in the city, and industry began to make use of modern machinery. As products were oriented towards the mass market, banking intensified and commerce increased. The educational system became more accessible, and literacy increased, as well. By the end of 19th century - the beginning of the 20th century, Panevėžys became a strong economic and cultural center of the region. At the time it was the fourth most important city in Lithuania. It was also a center of operations by local knygnešys. One of them - Juozas Masiulisin 1905 opened first Lithuanian bookstore and printing house. The building is still a landmark of Panevėžys, and local people are proud of a bookstorethat is functional for more than 100 years.
Between the World Wars, in the newly independent
Lithuania, Panevėžys continued to grow. According to the first census the government carried out in 1923, there were 19,147 people in Panevėžys, among them 6,845 Jews (36%) (in Yiddish the town's name was פוניבז, transliterated as "Ponevezh").
Ponevezh yeshivawas one of the most notable Haredi yeshivas in the history of the Jews in Lithuaniathat was established and flourished in the town. Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman( 1886- 1969), was its rosh yeshiva(head) and president, who became known as the "Ponovezher Rov" was the head of the yeshiva and was also the leading rabbi of Panevėžys. He managed to escape to the British Mandate of Palestinewhere he set about rebuilding the Ponevezh yeshivain Bnei Brakwhere it is to be found in modern day Israelby the same name of "Ponevezh yeshiva" with a very large student body of young Talmudis scholars. The town's population rose to 26,000 between 1923 and 1939. On June 15, 1940, Russian military forces took over the city, as a consequence of the forced incorporation of Lithuania, into the Soviet Union. A number of political prisoners were murdered near the sugar factory. A great number of the residents were exiled to Siberiaor suffered other forms of persecution.
After Germany attacked the USSR, Panevėžys was occupied by German forces, as it had been in the
First World War. It acquired the status of a district center ("Gebietskommissariate") within the Reichskommissariat Ostland. During the Nazi occupation nearly all the Jewish population of the town was killed in 1943 during the Holocaust; only a few managed to escape and find asylum abroad.
After World War II, the natural process of the city's evolution was disrupted. The
Soviet Communist Party, exercised dictatorial control, and the city was transformed into a major industrial center. During the 1960s and 1980s, several large-scale industrial companies were established. Soviet authority also destroyed old town and only after massive discontent of local people total destruction of old city center was stopped.
The number of inhabitants increased from 41,000 to 101,500 between 1959 and 1979. In 1990, the population reached 130,000. In 1990, after Lithuania regained its independence. The city’s industry faced some major challenges. For some time it was regarded as a place, where
plasticscooperatives were making a big bucks. There is still left a suburbregion, called by the locals Plastic Kings Castleswith very big and sometimes bizarre houses.
Panevėžys is situated in the middle of Lithuania; it is halfway between two Baltic capitals -
Vilniusand Riga. The good geographical location with good road infrastructure, and the international highway Via Balticaprovides opportunities for business. The city is connected by railway to Šiauliai(Lithuania) and Daugavpils(Latvia), as well as with Rubikiai/ Anykščiaiand Biržaiby narrow gauge railway. This railway is preserved as a historical monument and serves as a tourist attraction.
Panevėžys city municipality
Panevėžys, situated in the centre of
Aukštaitija, is sometimes called the capital of the region. It is a municipality on itself (Panevėžys city municipality) and is also the capital of Panevėžys district municipality, and Panevėžys County. The coat of arms with the red gate was adopted and formally approved in 1993.
The Museum of Ethnography has accumulated a lot of artifacts of historical and cultural heritage. The Art Gallery organizes about 20 different exhibitions every year as well as music and literature evenings, lectures and discussions about culture and art research. The Photography Gallery arranges 30 exhibitions of photography every year. 10 photo artists had personal exhibitions abroad and won international awards. The Public Library has 8 branches.
For the last 10 years Panevėžys has been organizing International Ceramics Symposia. The unique collection of ceramics is the biggest in the Baltic countries and is renewed each year. The
Chamber orchestra, Women's Choir "Golden Oriole" ( _lt. "Volungė"), ensemble "Muzika" ( _lt. music) are well-known for various music projects not only in Lithuania but also abroad. The Brass Orchestra "Panevėžio Garsas" (English: "Panevėžys Sound") plays not only for Lithuanian audience but also for people in the Baltic countries, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The Orchestra won the Grand Prize in a festival in France in 1997.
The city is a home to many theatres.
Juozas MiltinisDrama Theatre is famous in Lithuania and Europe. Juozas Miltinis has brought up a number of actors. One of them is Donatas Banioniswho is known internationally. Theatre "Menas" (English: "art") was established in 1991. The city boasts of Puppet Wagon Theatre which is the only in Europe. Antanas Markuckis, the director of the Theatre was awarded International Prize of Hans Christian Andersenin Copenhagenin 2003. Every two years the theater organizes the International Theatre Festival "Lagaminas" (English: "suitcase"). There also is a musical theater and school called "Juozas Miltinis school" where are drama lessons lectured.
Famous people from Panevėžys
Darius Grigalionis(*1977), Lithuanian backstroke swimmer
Donatas Banionis- film ant theater actor
Juozas Miltinis- theater director
* [http://www.panevezys.lt/en Official city page]
* Jews in Panevėžys before the Shoah [http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Panevezys/pon2.html Joseph Rosin, Panevezys (Ponevezh)]
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