Marijampolė (pop. 47.7thousand) is the capital city of Suvalkija (Sūduva), the Užnemunė ethnic region of Lithuania.
The town, settled by the Šešupė River, originated from the village of Pašešupis, first mentioned in the historical records back in 1667. In the 18th century the village evolved into Starapolė Town. Upon having constructed a monastery the town was given the name of Marijampolė. On 23 February 1792, Marijampolė was granted a privilege of the Magdeburg rights and became a real town and an important trade centre of Užnemunė.
In late 19th century Marijampolė became the centre of the national movement as well as education of Užnemunė. The rebirth of Lithuania’s independence was inspired by J.Basanavičius, V.Kudirka, K.Grinius and other prominent personalities. Book spreaders secretly distributed Lithuanian publications forbidden by the Tsarist authorities. The town started developing at a rapid pace after Lithuania became an independent state in 1918. Despite the fact that the town badly suffered during World War II– the Germans exterminated the Jewish community in 1941, the Soviets exiled many residents to Siberia, and the town itself was given the name of Kapsukas–the most beautiful buildings have survived.
Rich architectural heritage consists of shrines of different faiths in the classicism and historism styles, and educational institutions, a railway station and other buildings constructed during the interwar period. After Lithuania restored its independence for the second time, the town regained its former name of Marijampolė. The town put up monuments to prominent state, public and culture figures, including linguist J.Jablonskis, writer V.Mykolaitis-Putinas and others, who lived there. The Vytautas the Great, Poetry, Pašešupis (in the Šešupė River valley) and Marijampolės Marios (Marijampolė Lagoon) Parks attract town’s residents and guests by diverse flora and nicely arranged spaces. There are several hill-forts and a number of other historical sites in the town’s environs and the county. The Vištytis Regional Park is a popular place of recreation.