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Hi! I am Asta! I am a philologist and a philocalist to the heart's core. Here I share things that I consider being aesthetic and fantastic!

5 May 2020

Visiting the Republic of Paulava

If you never heard about the Republic of Paulava, don't fret. This tiny self-proclaimed country existed only for 26 years and... in the 18th century. Located in Šalčininkai district, this republic was recognized by the Grand Duke and King Stanisław August Poniatowski, had its militia, coins, and even Constitution. Its former capital, the Merkinė Manor still stands, although mostly in ruins, making it the perfect spot to explore for the ruin lovers, such as myself and my husband. So this morning we decided to go on an adventure (of course, not forgetting our masks and hand sanitizers) and visit this charming Republic of Paulava.

The Republic of Paulava (Pl. Rzeczpospolita Pawłowska) was established by Paweł Ksawery Brzostowski (a nobleman, writer, and Catholic priest) in 1769. The Republic covered an area of only 30.4 square kilometres and its population was around 800 people. But never mind the size! Its ruler was quite ahead of its time: Brzostowski abolished serfdom, even granted personal freedom to his peasants, encouraged them taking up business. He also established pharmacy to look after his people's health, as well as school that took care of their children's education. No wonder that Brzostowski's manor started generating more and more revenue.
   Sadly, the turbulent end of the 18th century did not leave The Republic of Paulava behind. Just before the Third Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, P. K. Brzostowski had swapped his manor for a wealth in Saxony. Years later, he came back to Lithuania, and lived in Turgeliai, the neighboring village as a priest. He died in 1827, and together with him - the history of an incredibly bold, successful, although short-lived, venture. 

Although it is debated, weather the manor's buildings were designed by Italian architect Carlo Spampani (1740 - 1783) or not, one things is clear - they are built in Neoclassical style. Previously, the entrance to the manor was through the spectacular Gothic Revival style gates. Sadly, the gates are now left on the other side of the road that was built during the Soviet era, thus dividing the territory and reshaping the landscape. 

On the both sides of the main house, stands the ruins of servants' quarters (Lith. oficina), and large stables. These buildings were intact during the first half of the 20th century, but after the main building was burned down (according to one story, due to the candle that was left unattended by nuns, who were residing in the manor ar that time), it slowly entered the state of decay. 

We went to visit the manor early in the morning and met no people (thus leaving our protective masks safely tucked in our pockets), and without any hurry we looked around for about an hour. On the right side of the manor there's what seems to be the remains of  a park (brooks, ponds, and small mounds overgrown with trees and shrubs that look like formed not by nature), so we also explored that part a little bit. 

On our way back we stopped by in Rudamina, where we spotted some ruins of what looked like a church. After consulting Google, we learned that we were standing next to the Orthodox church that was built in 1874–1876. The church was robbed during the WWI, damaged during WWII, and never rebuilt. Surrounded by a small churchyard (which is also the final resting place for at least 5-6 people), it would be an interesting monument to visit, sadly it is  heavily neglected.

Apparently, this summer's trips are going to be limited to my own country for the third year in a row. So it's about time to look for some new and exciting objects to visit.

Stay safe!

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