...During the war with the Swedish, the Samogitians laid a trap. They built a dam on the Salantas River only to destroy it the moment the Swedish army marched into the river bed. The Swedish had no time for retreat. Many soldiers drowned in the churning waters. The locals remembered this strategic move a long time. They would say, “The Swedish got trapped in the jaw of a beast.” That was how the name of the nearby village appeared, as it is derived from the Lithuanian word ‘nasrai’ the English for which is “the jaw’...
This story is an old legend about two Samogitian villages in the region of Kretinga called Kalnalis and Nasrėnai. The interesting fact is that these two villages have something in common and no, it is not the Swedish soldiers. In fact, it is one very famous Samogitian man!
Kalnalis Village was formed when Andrejus Oginskis (Ogiński), a squire from Grūšlaukė, built there a wooden Church of St. Lawrence in 1777. Several decades later, in 1801, the future bishop Motiejus Valančius who was born and grew up in Nasrėnai was christened here. Hence, both Kalnalis and Nasrėnai are united by M. Valančius who is one of the most prominent Samogitian of all times.
The Church of Kalnalis burned down in 1883. A year later, however, the Church of St. Lawrence was constructed and had remained intact to these days. One can see openwork crosses rising high above the church and the bell tower. These crosses date back to the times of cross crafting in the 19th century.
A bit farther ahead of the presbytery, a 15-meter high watchtower stands tall. It was built by the initiative of the Salantai Regional Park Administration in 2006. The watchtower may not seem that high until you start climbing to the very top! From the top, the beautiful vistas of Salantas Valley and Imbarė Hillfort open up. When you visit a place like this, you can easily understand why people who have traveled around the world say that although every place has its own charm, Lithuania remains the most beautiful country of the world (of course, a Samogitian would correct them by saying that it is Samogitia that is the land of incomparable beauty).