Zapyškis Eldership is bordered by Noreikiškės Eldership, Ežerėlis and Kačerginė settlements, Lekėčiai Eldership (Šakiai District, Marijampolė County), Kazlų Rūda Eldership (Marijampolė District, Marijampolė County).
Kluoniškiai village is the centre of the eldership. There are 19 villages in the eldership:
Altoniškiai (Drūtgalis, Skripstauja)
Braziūkai (Anglija, Indija)
Jadagoniai (Keraplai, Pagonija)
Kuras (Kelmeriai, Keraplai, Pekla, Žebgraužiai)
Papiškiai (Šunkarynė, Ukraina)
Riogliškiai (Apšėjukai, Dardanelai, Žarnakaimis, Drūtgalis, Žemaičių Lova)
Zizai (Keldvaris, Rakalynė)
The area of the eldership is 175 km2, 67.8% of them are forests: 66.8% - pine tree forests, 8.4% - spruce forests, 15.7% - grey alders, 6.7% - birch forests, etc.
Population: 2,446 people, of them – 523 individuals under 16 years of age (251 of them are pupils of Zapyškis Lower-Secondary School).
Zapyškis is situated on the left bank of the river Nemunas of the Lowlands of Central Lithuania, in the northeast part of Užnemunė lowland. The average height – 55 m. The town is located 17 km west of Kaunas, by Kaunas-Šakiai road.
Zapyškis Manor, that was established at the beginning of the 16th century, belonged to the noble Sapieha family. In the 16th century the manor was called Panemunė, later – Tarpupis and Sapiegiškis. The town was first mentioned in 1575. An important trade and postal route between Kaunas and Virbalis passed through it.
The church is mentioned in 1562, and in 1580 – the Eastern Orthodox church. Zapyškis suffered great damage during the wars of the mid-17th and early 18th centuries.
In 1759 Zapyškis became a part of Prussia. After Užnemunė was annexed to Russia, in 1815 the town went to Russia.
During the period between 1825 and 1847, the town had the city rights.
Zapyškis suffered damage during the flood of 1846, during the fire in 1857, and during the World War I.
During the period between 1919 and 1950 Zapyškis was the centre of the Volost.
On the left bank of the river Nemunas stands the St. John the Baptist Church that was built in Gothich style in 1578. It is a precious and very valuable Lithuanian Gothic monument of the 16th century. It witnessed adversities, wars and floods of all centuries, and is surrounded by legends.
The church has not been used for religious cult matters since the beginning of the 20th century. During the summer, church music concerts are held in the church; cultural events to commemorate the Coronation Day of Vytautas the Great.
Adjacent to the St. John the Baptist Church, where the meadows stretch by the river Nemunas, is the old Zapyškis settlement (the Old Zapyškis). It was first mentioned in the written sources in the 15th century. Archaeological explorations, that were carried out in the summer of 1990 in the Old Town of Zapyškis, not only confirmed the facts of the town life which are mentioned in written sources, but also gave new knowledge, told about the arrangement of the settlement, homesteads, and the mode of life of the locals.
The monument for the 10th anniversary of the Lithuanian Independence in Zapyškis town, which is very beautifully and symbolically incorporated between three oaks, sort of demonstrates the solidity and continuity of the Lithuanian nation. It was erected in May 1929, at the initiative of Jurgis Žitinevičius, the commander of Zapyškis Riflemen's Team. In 1960, the monument was pulled down. In May 1989, the monument was rebuilt at the initiative of the members of Zapyškis Group of the Reform Movement of Lithuania (Sąjūdis) for the occasion of the holy day of Pentecost.
A chapel stands in the Old Cemetery of Zapyškis. It is an interesting building of the mid-19th century Romanticism with great cultural value and of public significance. Priests were buried in the chapel. Among them was Kolyta, the parson of Zapyškis church, who was the patron of V. Kudirka.
The Old Cemetery of Zapyškis is very valuable, it has Suvalkija cultural, historical and architectural features. People of Zapyškis neighbourhood were buried in the cemetery before and after the January Uprising in 1863. An important fact is that, during the times when Lithuanian press was banned, the inscriptions on the stone monuments were written in Lithuanian, in the local dialect of Suvalkija region. This shows a meager influence of Polish culture on the people of northern Suvalkija region.
The crosses of metal handmade by blacksmiths, that survived into the present day, are interesting.
All objects of cultural heritage, that are listed above, are located by Kaunas-Šakiai road.
The monument in honour of poet A. Vištelis-Višteliauskas, who was the member of Aušrininkai movement, stands in the highest place of Zapyškis, in Kluoniškis village of Zapyškis Eldership (the author of the monument is a scuptor S. Žirgulis). The monument was unveilled on 1 September 1989 during the language feast. It bears an inscription: “Dear Lithuanian holy native language. Dedicated to Andrius Vištelis, the poet and the member of Aušrininkai movement. The people of Zapyškis“.
There are a lot of archaeological sites in the land of Zapyškis villages. Altoniškiai Mound and Sacred Mountain, which is surrounded by interesting legends and stories, Jadagoniai Mound called Raguva Hill, Jadagoniai Sacred Mountain, Riogliškiai Sacred Mountain called Riogla Hill.
A monument stone in Kuras forest district marks the graves of the rebels of 1863. The monuments erected in Dievogala and Kluoniškiai villages are in memory of the graves of the victims of the Jewish genocide and of the old Jewish cemetery. The resident of Ežerėlis Stanislovas Žemaitis is buried in Zapyškis cemetery, by the oak cross to commemorate the suffering of Lithuanian nation, that was erected on 14 June 1989 for the occasion of the Day of Mourning and Hope. Stanislovas Žemaitis burned himself to death on 26 April 1990 in Moscow, in the Revolution Square, thus protesting against Lithuania's economic blockade.
Places to visit
Zapyškis St. John the Baptist Church built in Gothich style (1578) - an architectural monument
Zapyškis Old Cemetery and Chapel
The monument for the 10th anniversary of the Lithuanian Independence (Vytauto str.)
The monument in honour of poet and the member of Aušrininkai movement A. Vištelis-Višteliauskas (Zapyškis)
Graves of the rebels of 1863 (Kuras forestry district, the 24th quarter)
Altoniškiai Mound and Sacred Mountain (Altoniškiai village)
Old Graves and Chapel in Jadagonys (Jadagonys village)
The old Jewish cemetery and the graves of the victims of the Jewish genocide (Dievogala and Kluoniškiai villages)
Monument in honour of those who died for the freedom of Lithuania (Braziūkai village)
Monument to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Lithuania's independence (Ežerėlis, Liepų str.)
Linden the Mother (Braziūkai village)
Šilagiris pine (Šilagiris forestry district)
Liekė Landscape Reserve
Novaraisis Ornithological Reserve