The History Of The Town
Ariogala is one of the oldest towns throughout Lithuania. The original
meaning of the word "Ariogala" might be related with the
edge, the end or the border of something, however, the root of the
word er- or ar-) lets conjecture that this word might be derived
from some name. Therefore, Ariogala might have been "the edge/end
of Ario (or Erio)".
The history of Ariogala is immemorial. Firstly it was mentioned
in the jottings of Mindaugas in 1253 when he granted half of the
lands of Ariogala for the newly established episcopate of Lithuania.
Later, in 1257 the lands were transferred to the bishopric of Livonia.
Some of the historical sources claim that Ariogala was the capital
of Mindaugas. Gediminas, The Great Duke of Lithuania, and his posterity
were the representatives of the dynasty of great dukes.
Ariogala was an important station at that time and had to withstand
numerous onslaughts of crusaders. People were frequently killed,
held prisoners, driven to Prussia. Many of assaults are mentioned
in the chronicles of crusaders: in 1294, 1322, 1348.
Only in 1382 the marshal of the Crusader Order, Kun Hotenshtein,
occupied and burnt the wooden castle of Ariogala. Afterwards, the
castle was not mentioned in the historical sources. One of the last
assaults of crusaders was made mention of at the time of the reign
of Vytautas (1405). The assaults stopped just after 1410 when the
Grand Duke of Lithunia Vytautas beat up the crusaders in the Battle
Ariogala became the estate of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the
time of Vytautas reign. It began to increase around the XVth century.
In the period of Žemaičiai baptism (around 1426 ) the Church of
Roman Catholics was built with Vytautas concern.
Ariogala was given partial rights of town. It got the privilege
to develop trade and to have a market. Stanislovas Augustas, the
ruler of Lithuania and Poland, bestowed on the rights of free town,
seal and emblem to Ariogala on 12 April, 1792. Two crossed swords
in red background with a crown over and inscription beneath "We'd
better lost our life than Freedom" were depicted in the emblem.
Such a militant emblem was given not accidentally. Crumbling and
inner contradictions destroyed the country, however, it was tried
to be saved by various reforms. It was strived to provide more rights
for self-government. The swords in the emblem remind that freedom
can be protected only with a weapon. Lithuanian President V. Adamkus
comfirmed the emblem of Ariogala by the decree announced on 15 November,
Only for three years Ariogala could preserve its self-government.
The rights of Ariogala town were abolished on 18 March, 1795.
At one time there lived many Jews in Ariogala. They bought goods,
sent them to Prussia, traded in wax, honey, salt, fur and other
products. They had several inns.
According to the legends, Ariogal was a big city in ancient times.
In the time of Russian Czar, Ariogala declined and turned into a
marginal town Padubysys. An important road from Kaunas to the lands
of Žemaičiai took past it. Ariogala burnt three times before World
War I. In 1915, it was completely burnt during the war between Germans
and Russians and only around thirty huts remained.
There is no news when the first school was established in Ariogala.
It is known that there was a parish school in 1852. It was closed
after the 1863 revolt and Russian school was established instead.
The school for boys was established in 1878. Later it was reorganized
into a mixed school, however, separated schools for boys and girls
were set up in 1907. In 1908, the fellowship "Saulė" established
Lithuanian school in Ariogala. During the occupation of Germans
there was no school, its buildings were burnt. Only after the independence
normal work began at school. 185 schoolchildren attended it in 1933.
In 1923, the school for Jews was established. Sixty eight children
When Lithuania was independent Ariogala was the council of district.
There were two grammar schools, a post, medical and veterinary offices,
police station, two fellowships of small credit; a pair of mills,
electric station, a cooperative, dairy, many artisans. Whithout
the parish of Catholics, there was the parish of Evangelicals, three
prayer houses that belonged to Jews, three libraries, the place
for reading, many culturial, economic, religious, youth organizations.
The whole Lithuania, including Ariogala, experienced one more trial
in the year of World War II. Germans killed almost all the Jews
who lived in Ariogala. Quite a lot of Lithuanians were exiled to
the expanse of Siberia.
From 1950 till 1962 Ariogala was the centre of the district. Ariogala,
Betygala, Čekiškė, Pernarava and part of Girkalnis were in the newest
district. The establishment of the centre of the district in Ariogala,
urged the restoration of the town and set the fast developement
of it off.
Since 1962 Ariogala is ascribed to the district of Raseiniai and
still has the rights of the town. According to its territory Ariogala
is the second town in the region of Raseiniai. Marvellous surroundings
distinguish Ariogala. Torrential Dubysa and its hollows fascinate
everybody's eyes. In the Valley of Songs, which is in Ariogala,
not only local but also republican occasions take place.
Currently, the territory of Ariogala occupies 482 hectares. 41%
of the area is built up; various parks occupy 25% and agricultural
places take 13%. The rest of the territory is occupied by waters
and areas used for different purposes. There are two cosy parks
in the town.
According to the data produced in 2001, 1743 men and 1954 women
lived in Ariogala, altogether 3697 people. At the moment 1653 families
live in Ariogala.
Today there is a post office in Ariogala ( works from 1880 ), bus
station, kindergarten, grammar school, secondary school ( 1918 -
1948 it was grammar school, 1948 - 1949 it was gymnasium ), library,
church, recreation centre, restaurant, hospital, clinic, pharmacy,
around 20 shops, veterinary hospital, market. The most important
industrial enterprises are: The company "Ariogalos Gelžbetonis"
( the former shop of Raseiniai concrete counstructions ) established
in 1968 and the shop of Raseiniai sewing concern "Šatrija".
In 2002, UAB "Skorgenas" was established in Ariogala.
It goes in for building small ships.
Postwar liberty battles that took place in this region are remembered
by the chapel, which was built in 1991 in the cemetery of Ariogala,
by the initiative of exiles and political prisoners. The chapel
is devoted to partisans and it is a monument for the exiles. Traditional
jamborees " The fire of freedom - for the future generations
" are organized in the Valley of Songs. They began in 1991
( after the regain of independence ) and started glorifying the
name of Ariogala. Every summer partisans, former political prisoners,
exiles and other participants of Liberty freedoms for Lithuania
gather in Ariogala. The way to the Valley of Songs is set with the
sculptures created by the folk artist Juozas Grabauskas.
The town of Ariogala had the great anniversary of 750 years on
12 July, 2003. The town appeared in new colours, surrounded by wonderful
squares, green parks, the homesteads in the background of flowers.
After the midday, the lovers of theatrical art gathered on the churchyard
of the church of Ariogala where pupils of Ariogala Secondary School
introduced to the evangelical performance (director A. Kazlauskas)
" Ir žodis buvo Dievas ". The audience were intrigued
by the passages from St. Matthew and other Gospels about Christ
and the truths of his teaching. The most memorable things were:
the direction and original perfomance of young individual actors;
professional expression of the message of the work.
Memorial stone was consecrated near the buildings of local authorities
of the town. The note was inscribed in the granite board, which
was hung on the stone : "750 years - to Ariogala, 1253 - 2003
People from Ariogala will remain for a long time in the history:
bookdistributor Mykolas Račkus, historian Vincas Trumpa, prof. Stasys
Šalkauskas, prof. Kazys Šalkauskas, dr. Audronė Globienė (1958),
dr. Kazys Lekevičius, journalist Aldona Svirbutavičienė, writer
Jurgis Savickis, painter Aloyzas Stasiulevičius and others.