This place was mentioned in 1253 as Garde (Gardai). In the 17th century, when the main church and road of cross was built, people started calling it the New Jerusalem, but after some time it was named Kalvarija after the name of the hill, where Jesus was crucified. In the 20th century, the town was renamed to Žemaičių Kalvarija to avoid misunderstandings, because there is another town in south-west of Lithuania, called Kalvarija.
During the Soviet years, 1964–1989, the town was renamed to Varduva. At that time, people, who visited this place as pilgrims, were persecuted by KGB. Only in 1989 town's name was restored back to its historic name Žemaičių Kalvarija.
It is a very small town, so most people walk, drive by bicycles or cars in it.
There are many things to do in Žemaičių Kalvarija. People are attracted to this place, because of the amazing nature and spirituality of this place. Most important event of the year is The Great Žemaičių Kalvarija Church Festival. During this festival many tourists and pilgrims come to the town from all over Samogitia, Lithuania and abroad (mostly from Latvia, Germany, Spain, Poland, the UK, Ireland and Nordic countries).
There are few small shops in the town, such as Danuva . During the The Great Žemaičių Kalvarija Church Festival there are many people, who are selling hand made crafts.
Žemaičių Kalvarija is a safe place but like anywhere you have to use common sense. It is a small town and not overcrouded, so people live a slow and easy life here.
The lovely seaside resort Palanga is on the way back to past glory. It is busy with tourists from June to September. The Latvian city Liepaja is just 80 km north from Žemaičių Kalvarija and is famous with beach, too, as well as with its Karosta neighbourhood, which is a former soviet secret military town with lots of things to see, such as a prison for tourists and a very scenic seaside fortress ruins and a cathedral.