Kernavė is a small town in the southeast of Lithuania, in the municipality of Širvintos (19 km off Širvintos). It is located on the right river bank of Nėris, near the Kernavė (or Pragarinė) lake. Only about 300 inhabitants live in Kernavė, but it is the center of township, has its flag, coat of arms and a very rich history.
It is believed, that first inhabitants settled in Kernavė territory in 9-8 millennium BC, but only in the first centuries AD they started to form bigger settlements in the Pajauta valley (Kernavė territory). Settlements were protected by five fortified mounds. In the 19th century the mounds were named Pilies (castle) mountain, Aukuro (altar) mountain, Mindaugas mountain, Lizdeika mountain and Kriveikiškio mound. In the 13th century Kernavė was already known as merchants’ and craftsmen’s town, and it became one of the most important center while forming Lithuanian state. In the prosperity times, Kernavė had 3-4 thousands of inhabitants (ten times more, then now) and it is believed, that Kernavė was the first capital of Lithuania.
In the year 1989 the National Kernavė archeological and history museum-reserve was found to protect the cultural heritage. In 2004 Kernave was included into UNESCO world heritage list.
Kernavė attract visitors not only because of the heritage and open air museum. Different festivals take place here. Two most popular ones are Midsummer’s festival on the 23rd of June and Live archeology days in the beginning of June. During these archeology days, everyone can get to know the handicrafts from prehistoric times and early Middle Ages warfare art.