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"Birutė and Kęstutis"
woodcut by P. Augius

Lithuanian legends & lore:

Although Birutė is an important historical figure, much of what is being said about her youth is legendary.

It is believed that like the vestal virgins of ancient Rome, she had dedicated herself to the preservation of the eternal flame at a pagan sanctuary on a hill near today's resort town of Palanga on the Baltic Sea eastern shore. About the year 1349, Kęstutis (Click here to read about Kęstutis.), son of Grand Duke Gediminas, while hunting in the vicinity, saw the beautiful Birutė, fell in love with her, took her to his castle in Trakai, and married her. Their eldest son, Vytautas, later called the Great, became the ruler of Lithuania and a very important leader in Central Europe.

Birutė and Kęstutis stayed faithful to the ancient Lithuanian religion throughout their lives and both are widely respected and loved by the Lithuanian people, especially by Samogitians of western Lithuania. (Click here to read more legends.)