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Ethnographic Zervynos village

Zervynos is an ethnographic village in the Varėna district, Lithuania. It is situated within the Dzūkija National Park near river Ūla. Zervynos has 48 homesteads; 8 homesteads and 32 separate buildings are officially declared ethnographic monuments. The village was short-listed for the nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

 

Zervynos was first mentioned in written sources in 1742. However, 24 campsites, dating from the Stone and Iron Ages, show that people lived in the area since much earlier times. The inhabitants were mostly fishers, hunters, and gatherers of the goods of the forest. In the 18th century, the village was divided by the River Ūla: the right bank was in the Varėna eldership of the voivodeship of Trakai, while the left side was in the Kaniava eldership of the voivodeship of Vilnius . The right bank evolved from a village owned by a noble, and the left bank – from a settlement of forest workers. Both sides had about 10 homesteads and one hundred inhabitants combined.

The village was untouched by agricultural reforms because of the isolation by forests, and sandy soil is unfit for agriculture. Therefore, the village has preserved its original layout from the 18th century. The farm houses are aligned to the central street, running in a narrow strip between the river and the slopes of river's valley. Various structures for homesteads are applied depending on the terrain and the size of the plot. All buildings are wooden, constructed mostly from pine logs, the principle which is based on old architectural traditions. Older houses are simpler with symmetrical composition and plain exterior. They are divided into three areas: two living rooms at the end, and an anteroom and larder in the middle. As families decreased in sizes, one living room in newer houses was replaced with a proper kitchen.

In the middle of the village there is a triplet of crosses built in different years. Two more crosses are built on the bank of the river Ūla, and at the crossroad near the cemetery. Zervynos was one of the earliest objects of ethnographic expeditions, and a subject for a monograph, published in 1964 and devoted solely to the village and its heritage, and which set the trend of local ethnographic research.

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