Alytus (pop. 57,500), also known as the capital city of the Dzūkija ethnographic region. The obelisk built at the location of a mass burial ground of war prisoners and civilians who died and were killed in Alytus forest reminds us of the horrors of World War II. Roughly 60,000 Jews were killed and buried in the Vidzgiris forest during Nazioccupation; the highest hill of the memorial features a monument to pain–a broken David Star. Visitors should explore the nurtured Old Garden of the City, the freedom monument (The Angel of Freedom); a memorial to the partisans of the Dainava district who died for Lithuanian independence. In 1944, Normandy-Nemunas, the legendary French aviation squadron that fought against Nazism, was settled in Alytus.
Alytus County is home to the Dzūkija National, and the Meteliai and the Nemunas Loops Regional Parks attracting visitors with its beautiful nature and landscapes as well the Žuvintas Reserve inhabited by a large variety of birds. Ancient crafts have survived in many ethnographic villages of the Dzūkija National Park. One can enjoy lively sceneries of the environs opening up from the hill-forts of Merkinė, Liškiava and Punia.
History of Alytus
The city dates back to the 14th century when Alytus was just a fortress standing on a hill on the confluence of the Nemunas and the Alytupis. In 1581, Alytus was granted the rights of a town.
In the late 19th century, during the period of Czarist occupation, Alytus was turned into a fortress; a motor road and a railway were built in it then. The so-called artillery barracks built in a forest close to Garrison Church and Kareivinių Park with Saratov barracks have survived from that period.