The peninsula between lakes Galvė and Skaistis has been mentioned in historical sources since the 14th century. Back then it was called Algirdas Island and belonged to Tatar nobles, and was eventually acquired by Count Juozapas Tiškevičius (1835–1891) in the second half of the 19th century after exchanging hands several times. His youngest son Juozapas (1863–1867) and his wife, the Polish Duchess Jadvyga Svetopolk-Četvertinska, inherited the manor in 1891 and eventually founded the Užutrakis Manor as it’s known today. The manor estate amounted to 800 hectares, with 80 hectares dedicated to the family residence.
Count Juozapas Tiškevičius hired Polish architect Juzef Huss to design and build a luxurious Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Classical palace with an impressive terrace featuring open pavilions right in front of Trakai Castle on the shore of Lake Galvė. It offers enchanting views of both the lake and Trakai Island Castle.
The Užutrakis Manor belonged to the Tiškevičiai family from 1867, but it flourished in the time of Count J. Tiškevičius. During the First World War, the residence of Užutrakis was severely destroyed and abandoned for a long time after the count’s death in St. Petersburg in 1917. Before the beginning of the Second World War, his son Count A.Tiškevičius took over Užutrakis Manor. He lived there with his family only in one part of the palace but didn’t restore the ornate gazebos and paid less attention to the large landscape park. The German army occupied the manor during the war and it was later nationalised by Soviet authorities. After the war, the manor housed a sanatorium for high-ranking KGB officers before serving as a pioneer camp, rest house, and eventually a state tourism base. However, the Užutrakis Manor suffered the most destruction after its nationalisation in 1940, which was only reversed in 1998.
The palace interior was decorated in the French style of Louis XVI. The four-sloped roof is crowned by a strip of ventilation ducts featuring decorative elements and a spike – a splint on which the historical flag of the Lithuanian state with Vytis is raised.
On the ground floor there are seven symmetrical halls with large rectangular windows, and in the middle of the building there is a hall and a staircase illuminated by skylights. Modest living quarters with square windows can be found on the second floor.
Regular-shaped (French) parterres with cut linden alleys, ornamental flowerbeds, marble vases and sculptures decorate the front of the palace. The great parterre was decorated with 18th-century copies of sculptures by the French sculptor A. Coysevox, depicting the Roman goddesses Diana and Flora and the nymph Hamadriade. The smaller parterre is decorated with a sculpture of the Roman god of wine Bakch and busts made in the ancient style. The unique landscape and aura of Trakai influenced the count’s choice to live there and its subsequent attachment to Užutrakis, as well as the special attention he paid to the surrounding environment. The count entrusted the environment to the famous French landscape architect Eduard François André, who came to Užutrakis in 1898 and planned a mixed-style park typical of his work.
A landscape (English) park surrounds the palace and its French parterres. E.F. Andre masterfully took advantage of the contrasting landscape of the peninsula, emphasising its hills with compositions of artificial rocks, and complementing the majestic splendour of the Galvė and Skaistis lakes with mirrors of ponds dug in the lower parts and swamps. Their surfaces reflected centuries-old oak and pine trees, as well as specially selected exotic plants. The excavation of more than 20 ponds, of different sizes and shapes, connected to lakes or to each other gave birth to a unique park of water reflections in which the boundary between land and water – between ingenuity and reality – disappeared.
The even more diverse herbaceous vegetation of the park reminds visitors that E.F. Andre was a botanist at heart. Around 400 species of herbaceous plants grow there today.
We usually get to Užutrakis by a land road that was not used by the count’s family because it was intended to be farmed, giving it the name “potato” road. One could get to the peninsula by raft through the confluence of the Galvė and Skaistis lakes, where a ferryman lived in a house built there. From the raft towards the palace is the Duke’s Alley, which is clearly visible from the gazebo on one of the hills of the park. And in the furthest part of the peninsula, which protrudes into the lake, a sculpture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby blessed those who crossed the strait.
The Užutrakis Manor is surrounded by a wonderful landscape of lakes, and is famous for its honourable historic past. The Užutrakis Manor park is located on a 1.4-km long peninsula between lakes Galvė and Skaistis. This stretch of land is surrounded on all sides by large areas of water with a distinctive hilly rugged terrain. It is clearly distinguished by six 23-metre high hills, delimited by swampy ditches and deeply carved lake bays. Lake Galvė is one of the largest (361 ha), most picturesque and deepest lakes in Lithuania. The eastern part of the lake reaches 46.7 metres in depth. The lake’s shoreline meanders through bays and peninsulas of various shapes, and it consists of 21 islands. Both the lake and the islands have their own legends.
Užutrakis Manor was maintained by a farm that consisted of 800 hectares of land with manors and villages. There was a large farm by the manor house itself. As many as 19 brick and wooden farm buildings stood there, including residential houses for the gardener and ferryman, cowsheds, a forge, a stable, etc. The manor was a large economic unit, producing and selling various products, the income from which not only helped maintain and develop the manor homestead, but also provided employment and livelihood for people living, working or having any other relations with the manor.
The Užutrakis Manor is used for a variety of public and cultural events. It hosts a variety of events: classical music concerts, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and performances.