Kretinga is one of the oldest known cities in Lithuania. It was first mentioned in 1253 as castle Cretyn under the charter of Bishop Heinrich of Courland. In 1602 Jan Karol Chodkiewicz built the first wooden church in Kretinga and established a Benedictine monastery, which became a great success. After about ten years a new brick church with an impressive organ was built. In 1610 a church school was opened.
In 1609 Jan Karol Chodkiewicz announced that he would establish a new city next to the old village and would grant the new city Magdeburg rights. The new city adopted a coat of arms depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms. Kretinga’s patron saint remains the Blessed Virgin. In 1621 the Sapieha family gained control of the city; they changed its coat of arms to represent Saint Casimir. In 1659 and 1710 the church and monastery were destroyed by Swedish armies. The Sapieha family helped to rebuild and improve it.
The city prospered during the 19th century as part of the Russian Empire. In 1882 the first telephone line in Lithuania connected Kretinga with Plungė and Rietavas. In 1875, Count Tiškevičius decided to establish his family estate in Kretinga; he purchased and rebuilt an old palace. Following the fashions of the Victorian era, the family landscaped it lavishly and built a greenhouse featuring exotic flowering plants and tropical fruits. In 1890 they installed electricity in the manor.
Attractions in Kretinga are very interesting and unusual: the Franciscan convent monastery, the chapel, the palace of the Tyszkiewicz, the Winter Garden, which contains a large number of unusual plants, flowers and trees, and a unique place – the Museum of the Absurd or the Arvydas Manor – an open-air museum.
Altogether in Kretinga, known as the Lithuanian Vatican, there are 5 monasteries. Their mission is to closely communicate with people and provide them with spiritual help on the path of life. Those interested can get acquainted with the activities and mission of the monasteries.
The honorable history of the region is illustrated figuratively by the exhibits of the Kretinga Museum. It contains valuable collections of applied art, documents, iconography, archaeological finds. The yard is surrounded by a park, which in 2002 was decorated with an astronomical calendar with a sundial.
Do you want to hear the singing of birds, smell the forest, see natural and cultural monuments? Go on a trip to Kretinga district. Here you will be greeted by a Japanese garden, which is created by masters from the Land of the Rising Sun, as well as the park of mythology of the Balts.
Do you want to feel the pulse of nature? You are waited by water entertainments in the rivers Minija and Akmena. Near the tributary of the Minija River, there is the Salant Regional Park, which has seating areas. Kayaking, camping in nature is the best way to rest and recreation.