Consistent research into the legacy of the First World War in the Zarasai region began as early as 2006, when military historians Valdas Rakutis and Vladimir Orlovs initiated an exploration/research expedition in the vicinity of Turmantas precinct, and later a conference to present this heritage. The research material is described in Vladimir Orlovs’ book “Fortification of the 20th century in Lithuania”.
On the basis of the research, the first seven objects were included in the Register of Immovable Cultural Heritage Values. Already then, there were initiatives and proposals to create a First World War exposition in Turmantas and an open museum under the sky by creating a tourist route and visiting the fortification created by the German Kaiser army.
Later, the research of this area was based on the initiatives of local enthusiasts, individual excursions or the activities of “black archaeologists”. Even then, it was noticed that the territory in Latvia between Lakes Gatenu and Medumu, where the main front line between the German and Russian imperial armies ran, also has a significant military heritage. Therefore, cross-border cooperation on both sides of the border is necessary to fully reveal this route and the military heritage it contains.
From 2018 the idea of exposition and creation of the route began to be developed by the Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center, whose specialists collected and systematized material significant for the creation of routes, sought partners and prepared projects for the disclosure of this heritage.
The project was prepared. The project will be implemented from 2021 and will continue until the beginning of 2023. “Direction of World War I tourism and expositions for attracting visitors to the border region” (or “WWI ROUTE” shortly, project No. LLI-501) in cooperation with the municipality of Augsdaugava district. The total budget of the project amounts to 731 thousand euros.
On the basis of the “WWI ROUTE” project, an exposition and an international route are being created in this border region. While traveling along the route, you can visit several expositions from the time of the First World War, the objects of the First World War in the fortifications of the remaining positions of the German Imperial Army, get to know the preserved heritage of the First World War, and get acquainted with the specifics of this historical period. Using the app wwiroute.visitzarasai.lt, the route can be easily modified and adapted to people of various abilities traveling on foot, by bicycle or by car. The full route reaches as much as 99 km.
Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center is a public institution established by Zarasai District Municipal Council. The main activity goal of the center is to spread information about the Zarasai region, its tourist potential, and provide business information services.
The main objectives of the institution:
promote the tourism and business development of the Zarasai district, taking into account the tourism and business development priorities of the Municipality of the district;
to provide information services about the tourism resources of the Zarasai district for Lithuanian and foreign tourists, creating an attractive and welcoming image of the Zarasai district and popularizing it in Lithuania and abroad;
to provide business information, consulting, training services, to develop public entrepreneurship, to promote the creation of new jobs in the Zarasai district, increasing the competitiveness of companies.
The Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center, a public institution, provides guide services and organizes excursions around the Zarasai region and Lithuania. Publishes and distributes information publications, maps, sells souvenirs. Mediates with travel agencies, helps organize sightseeing and leisure trips, etc.
It helps to order transport, accommodation or guide services, to find the necessary tourism information or services in the Zarasai region. Provides office services – copying, printing, scanning.
Provides accommodation and entertainment services. The Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center administers the property transferred by the Zarasai District Municipal Council: camping “Zarasai”, Guest House “Zarasai” and Zarasai climbing park (with a route for disabled people).
One of the activities of the Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center is to prepare and administer projects financed from national, EU and other international funds, to achieve the institution’s goals and municipal priorities in tourism, sports, etc. areas. The public institution Zarasai Tourism and Business Information Center develops and prepares new tourism products: pedestrian, bicycle, car, water, cultural and nature routes, looking for potential providers and organizers of tourism, active and passive recreation services in the Zarasai region.