Heraldry. The coat of arms of Leliūnai is a red shield with a silver organ, hung on a golden pole in a green background. Its author is the artist Vida Navikienė. The use of an organ for the coat of arms was not accidental — in 1813 by the initiative of the priest Antanas Masaitis, Leliūnai church was equipped with a 21-register organ, made by the famous organ master Bruno Goebel in Koenigsberg. In the early 20th c. this organ was one of the first pneumatic organs in Lithuania. The organ currently at Leliūnai St Joseph’s Church is regarded as probably one of the best of the old instruments in Lithuania.
The coat of arms was approved by the decree No. 81 of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, signed on 25 May 2004.
History. The town of Leliūnai — the centre of the elderate — is situated on both sides of Zarasai-Kaunas road, near the edge of Anykščiai district, 13 km from Utena city. The beginning of Leliūnai is related with the manor, mentioned since the 17th c. As of 1919 to 1950 Leliūnai was the centre of the volost, and later — region, while as of 1995 — the centre of the elderate.
The first Catholic church was built in 1698 and the second — St Joseph’s Parish Church — in 1788. The red-brick Gothic church still serving its purpose today was built in 1905 by the initiative of the priest A. Masaitis. The organ, made by the famous organ master Bruno Goebel in Koenigsberg, is regarded as one of the best in Lithuania. It was played by the composers Juozas Karosas, Juozas Stroila and Juozas Gruodis.
The first school in Leliūnai was founded back in 1853. Its activity was prohibited together with the prohibition of the Lithuanian press. After the restoration of the freedom of press, the priest Antanas Masaitis initiated the restoration of the Lithuanian primary school in 1905. 1939 marked the beginning of the construction of a typical six-part primary school building. The building was completed already in 1940, but further installations were interrupted by the war. During the years of war Germans used the school building as a camp for Russian prisoners of war. After the war, in 1944, Leliūnai established a progymnasium. During the school year of 1955-56 the school was renamed as Leliūnai High School. Since the number of pupils declined, in September 2001 the school was reorganised into a secondary school.
Currently Leliūnai elderate has about 500 inhabitants. There is a department of Utena A. and M. Miškiniai Public Library, Leliūnai Culture Centre and Leliūnai Social Care Home. Leliūnai Ceramics Museum. The museum was founded by the folk artist Vytautas Valiušis, who also collected the exhibits. It constantly hosts exhibitions of various folk artists.
Taking Pakalniai–Alanta road, 3 km from Utena, travellers can see large Narkūnai mounds with expressive hilltops, sites and remains of the ancient settlement. These mounds are related to the name of the Duke Utenis, thus referring to one of them as Utenis castle, while the other — the grave of Utenis. The legendary valley at the bottom is referred to as the Valley of Fortune. Narkūnai mound was researched by the archaeologist Pr. Vilčinskis in 1835 and Utena Ethnographic Museum in 1959. During the research of 1975–1978 archaeologists have found cultural layers referring to two periods, remnants of bloomery, casting forms and ceramic items (first millennium).
Taking Pakalniai–Leliūnai road, on the right side of the road there is Pakalniai mound, opening beautiful views of Pakalniai town and Lake Vidinkstas. In 1918 people had built an 18-metre wooden cross, which was taken down in 1963, restored in 1989 and fell down again in 1999. Currently there is a smaller cross, built by P. Kaziūnas. The top of the mound became the grave of several partisans that have died in battle. In 1836 the mound was researched by P. Vilčinskis and in 1989–1991 —the Lithuanian Institute of History. Researchers found ceramic items, pole places, a part of a deepened fireplace, etc. The mound dates back to late 1st millennium–early 2nd millennium. The finds are kept at Utena Ethnographic Museum.
Between Ažugiriai and Antalgė villages, on the left of the road from Kaunas to Utena, you will see an arrow sign Sūngailiškio piliakalnis (Eng. Sūngailiškis Mound). Take the road and you will get to the beautiful Sūngailiškis hunter’s club resort, established in the former manor.
After passing through Antalgės village and turning left, in Dirvoniškis village you will find one of the most beautiful homesteads of Utena district, which belongs to D. and V. Neliupšiai, who enjoy an abundance of plants. The homestead looks like a small botanic garden.
Pottery Fair in Leliūnai
The Pottery fair in Leliūnai takes place in autumn. The participants of the event and guests can try their hand at pot turning, assisted by Vytautas Valiušis — the king of pottery himself. They can also look at ceramic artists at work, participate at a farmers’ and folk artists’ fair, purchase various pots and folk art items, home-made pies, cheese, honey and autumn harvest goodies. The visitors of the fair can enjoy the entertainment of local musicians and best amateur musicians from Utena city. The event is also attended by various authorities, media and photographers. One of the most eye-catching parts of the event is the theatrical performance A Market in the 19th c. Utena Volost.
One part of the fair usually takes place at the homestead of the composer Juozas Karosas in Spraguičiai village. That is a tribute to theatre lovers, since Juozas Karosas’ homestead with its barn theatre is an excellent place for performances. Thus theatre enthusiasts hurry up to take the best seats, where they can see not only local theatre troupes from Utena district, but also various performances of theatres on tour.
After feeding their minds with theatrical energy, visitors flock to the Pottery Fair, taking place in the yard of Vytautas Valiušis Ceramic Museum, which is a department of Utena Ethnographic Museum in Leliūnai. The fair also features exhibitions, their presentations and concerts. However, the most popular treat is the pottery workshop, where everyone can try their hand at working clay and making a whistle or turning a cup with the help of Vytautas Valiušis.
The festivity ends with a mass at Leliūnai St Joseph’s Church and music, which once again invites everyone to get together.