The Kretinga Manor Winter Garden
Coordinates: 55.900005 21.248587
Object address: 20 Vilniaus st., Kretinga
Municipality: Kretinga district
Ca. 1875, Count Juozapas Tiškevičius had an idea to merge the two separate buildings of the Kretinga Manor by means of a conservatory, where he eventually set up the Winter Garden. The observatory was 16 metres high and had three floors. The Count made sure that various exotic plants would grow in the conservatory. Small water basins, linked by narrow canals, were dug out and decorative fish were soon let into the small water complex. Bridges were built over some of the canals.
A basin was located at the waterfall, which had water running from the second floor. Two active fountains were placed over two other basins on each side of the waterfall. Artificial rocks and caves surrounded the base of the Winter Garden. The count even brought in blue corals from the Red Sea.
In the evenings, guests were allowed to visit the largest cave within the conservatory free of charge. People would travel to the conservatory from Klaipėda, Tilžė, Palanga, and even Königsberg. The cave could fit around 100 people. The Winter Garden was the largest private conservatory in Europe at that time.
The conservatory was lit by three arch-shaped electric lights. Count Juozapas Tiškevičius built an electric turbine to generate electricity. During the autumn, seasonal floods rotated the turbine, but when the winter would come along, the count used steam power (firewood and peat) to generate electricity. After some time, the conservatory’s arch-shaped lights were replaced by incandescent light bulbs.
Aleksandras Tiškevičius organised the reconstruction of the Winter Garden, which continued for two years (1910–1912) and has planted new and rare plants right afterwards.
In 1915, the conservatory was badly damaged because of a large fire. In 1940, the Red Army took over the mansion and destroyed all of the plants. Thus the conservatory was transformed into a hospital and cafeteria. Later on, it was converted into a stable.
The rare corals became smoky because of the burning firewood that kept the stables warm. The coral walls were lightened using lime, which, needless to say, caused irreversible damage.
In the years following the war, the Kretinga Soviet Administration of Agriculture and the Agricultural Production Centre were established in the manor. The Winter Garden was transformed into a warehouse for fertiliser and later – into a sports hall and greenhouse. In 1991, the Tiškevičius Manor and Winter Garden were handed over to the Kretinga Museum. At the moment, there is a total of 3,800 plants (580 species) present in the conservatory.
The Winter Garden underwent reconstruction works three times in the last 40 years: in 1972–1988, 2000–2001, and 2011. As of 1993, the conservatory now also has a fully operational café called Pas grafą (Eng. Count’s) The café often invites famous national musicians to perform concerts. It was the first café in Lithuania to be established in a museum. More than 80,000 people visit the Winter Garden every year.
It is a state-protected cultural heritage. It belongs to the complex of the Kretinga Manor.