History
 
SVENTOJI: HISTORY
 
Prepared by “Encyclopedia Lituanica”. II. Boston, 1972. P. 344-345
 
SVENTOJI, fishing village and seaside resort on the Baltic seashore, at the mouth of the Sventoji river, 13 km north of Palanga. Its population was 835 in 1970 (410 in 1923, 784 in 1959). There are fishing harbor facilities, trawler repair shops, and a fish-processing plant. Recent archaeological research (1966-69) turned up several dozen Stone Age habitation sites from the middle of the 3rd millennium B. C. Found were fishing implements (oars, floats, linden bast nets), clay pots, flint scrapers, amber beads, and other artifacts. Most interesting and rare is a well-preserved black alder pole with a sharpened butt and the top carved into a human bust. The entire pole is 195 cm long, of which the bust takes up 32 cm. This is the only such find in Lithuania and one of few in northern Europe. The sex of the image is not evident. It is believed that such Neolithic sculptures were placed near fishing waters, but it is not exactly known for what purpose.
The Sventoji harbor is mentioned in chronicles of the Teutonic Order (13th century) and in several maps of Livonia (1562-73). The Polish-Lithuanian Diet of 1589, held at Warsaw, decided to clean up the bed and mouth of the river so as to enable ships to bring goods from Samogitia. King Sigismund Vasa (1587-1632) granted an English company permission to instal new harbor facilities, spurring competition between Sventoji and the German merchant ports of Klaipeda (Memel) and Liepaja (Libau). Pressured by the more powerful representatives of the latter, King Ladislas Vasa (1632-48) ordered a stop to further expansion of the harbor, but King John Sobieski (1674-96) reached a new agreement with the English merchants. In 1685 he allowed them to establish their agency at Palanga on condition that they would improve the port facilities of Sventoji, to which he granted a town charter and a 40-year dispensation from all taxes. As a result, commerce once again expanded, and the port began to compete anew with those of Liepaja and Riga. At the outbreak of the Great Northern War, the merchants of the latter two cities hired Swedish troops to block up the port of Sventoji with stones (1701). From that time on it remained dormant until it was revived again during the period of Lithuania's independence. In 1925 a 380 m southern mole was built; in 1926 - a 230 m northern mole, warehouses, meteorological and hydrographic stations, and other installations. A year later new piers were constructed and the harbor was deepened. Annually about 300,000 kg of fish, mostly cod and flounder, were brought in at Sventoji. Towards the end of the period of independence a development plan for the village was put in action, resulting in the construction of new buildings, a school, a Roman Catholic church, and summer villas. During World War II the harbor fell into disuse, but since then it has been revived once more. Recently the village was administratively joined to the town of Palanga (1970).

The Main Historical Dates of Palanga and Šventoji >>>

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