Pagėgiai has been changing its face over the centuries – a small settlement in the North Scalovia once, today Pagėgiai is a municipality centre.
A silver cuckoo carrying a golden key in her feet is depicted in the coat of arms of Pagėgiai. The green background of the coat of arms symbolizes hope and the beauty of nature. A cuckoo is associated with folk etymology of Pagėgiai name. A golden key means a town located at the border. The coat of arms was created in 1995; the author of the coat of arms is an artist Laima Ramonienė. It is believed that the name of Pagėgiai town originated from the name of the Gėgė Creek.
Pagėgiai village is mentioned in the historical sources of the 13th century. The village grew into a town from 1875: a railway track and a road between Klaipėda and Tilsit were laid, as well as a railway station and a post office were built. In 1923, after Klaipėda region was connected to Lithuania, Pagėgiai was granted the rights of a town, and after the World War I, the town became an important centre of a region. Pagėgiai was growing rapidly during that period: modern architectural buildings of the period were built, the main streets were laid, a water supply tower was built, central and municipal authorities, schools, banks, hotels, shops, restaurants and pubs are established. In 1999, Pagėgiai became the centre of a newly established Pagėgiai Municipality that belongs to Tauragė region today. The population of Pagėgiai is about 2.3 thousand people today.
Places to visit
Birutės Street: it is an alley for pedestrians. The houses standing along the street are a heritage of exclusive modern architecture. One can see a railway station that was built at the end of the 19th century from far away at the end of the street. There is an oak growing in front of the railway station that was planted, as it is believed, by Martynas Jankus, who is called a patriarch of Lithuania Minor, and by a pilot Feliksas Vaitkus. After repeating the flight of Darius and Girėnas, this pilot landed in Ireland and travelled back to Lithuania by train from Konigsberg. Feliksas Vaikus was given a solemn welcome in Pagėgiai. The first stop, where you will be met by Pagėgiai community, will be by this historical oak.
Some wooden buildings of traditional folk architecture and Pagėgiai Kristijonas Donelaitis Gymnasium Palace that reminds of a fortress have still remained in Vydūno Street. The palace was built in 1930-1932 according to a project of architect Adomas Brakas and architect K. Maksvitaitis. Pagėgiai Children Foster Home has been established in this building. Catholic church – Pagėgiai Holy Cross Church – is also standing on this street. The old church was destroyed during the war and only the steeple remained. A new church was built after Lithuania became an Independent State.
Examples of the old architecture are also noteworthy: Pagėgiai Police Office (Jaunimo st. 2), Nursing Home (Žemaičių st., not far from the town park).
A sculpture dedicated to the merger between Lithuania Minor and Lithuania Proper was unveiled in the central part of Pagėgiai town park in 2005. The author of the sculpture is Steponas Juška. It is a silhouette of a woman-mother holding a small baby close to her chest inscribed in pink granite. It is Lithuania Proper holding Lithuania Minor close to her and trying to protect it from the disasters. The sculpture was built in a reconstructed town square between Vilniaus and Vytauto Streets. In parallel, on the other side of the street, there is a native house (No. 6) of the emigrant poet Algimantas Viktoras Mackus (1932 – 1964), where he spent the first seven years of his life. When living in Chicago, this poet worked in a radio station together with Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania. Algimantas Viktoras Mackus still lives in the heart of the inhabitants of Pagėgiai, and this memorial perpetuates his memory. Pagėgiai Algimantas Mackus Gymnasium (Vilniaus st. 3) was named after him, where an exposition dedicated to the poet was established in 2003. Visit to the exposition must be agreed in advance with the administration of the gymnasium.
Žemaičių Street – Vilų Street. The villas were built before World War II. They are still in excellent condition and most of them are the property of private persons. Cemetery of the victims of the World War II is located on the other side of the villas.
Pagėgiai and the neighbouring settlements can boast of unique architecture of Klaipėda Region and hospitable people.