The coat of arms was created in 1969 by the artists Arvydas Šaltenis and Aldona Jonuškaitė. A year later, the coat of arms was abolished. The coat of arms was later recreated by the artist R. Minkevičius according to a drawing of the 1969 design. The specifications of the coat of arms were approved by the Heraldry Commission of Lithuania on 19 September 1996.
The current coat of arms of Utena was approved by decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania on 26 September 1996.
History. Utena is one of the oldest of Lithuania’s cities. Utena was first mentioned in a historical record in a letter written by King Mindaugas in 1261 to the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. It is said that the city was founded by the legendary duke Utenis, who built a castle by the Utenėlė stream. Archaeological digs at the Narkūnai hill-fort (mound) confirmed earlier assumptions made by archaeologists that Utena had in fact been located about 3 to 5 kilometers to the southwest from the site of the modern city. A settlement had developed there at the end of the second millennium BCE. During the 13th century, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword repeatedly ravaged the Utena area, the castle was destroyed, and the hill-forts (mounds) lost their defensive significance. The settlement was then moved to its current location, a more convenient one from an economic point of view.
In 1416, Utena’s church was built. The town became a castle eldership, although the role of the castle was at that time performed by the estate of the Grand Duke. In 1499, Grand Duke Aleksandras appointed Mykolas Glinskis as steward of Utena. In 1599, Utena received the market right, that is, the privilege of hosting a market. This encouraged the growth of the city. At the end of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th century, the town was redesigned according to a standard right-angled plan. At its centre, a four-sided market square was established.
During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), Utena was razed to the ground by the invading Swedes. In the 18th century, a parish school was opened. 7 children attended it in 1781, and 20 children attended it in 1798. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Utena estate was transferred to private ownership.
The town began to recover when the Saint Petersburg – Warsaw road was built. This was the first highway in Lithuania. The segment between Zarasai and Kaunas was built from 1830 to 1836. Conditions for trade and commerce improved. From 1835 to 1836, a post office, a guest house for postal couriers, and stables for their horses were built next to the road. At that time, the complex was the largest institution in Utena. In 1854, work was begun on the Zarasai-Utena segment of the telegraph line connecting Saint Petersburg and Warsaw, and a telegraph station was installed in the post office. In 1879, most of Utena burned to the ground. In 1899, the narrow gauge railway connecting Švenčionėliai and Panevėžys was built, passing through Utena. In 1918, a telephone station was established in the post office. In 1924 or 1926, Utena was granted the rights of a city.
Utena is a hydronymic place name. In the area around Utena, there are many names for bodies of water based on the root “uten-”, including the lakes Utenas, Vyžuonaitis, and Utenykštis, and the river Utenėlė (or Utenaitė). It is likely that the city was named for the stream Utenėlė, which was earlier known simply as Utena, and as the city grew, the stream took on the diminutive suffix “-ėlė”.
Self-government. In 1599, Utena was granted the market right, but not the other rights of self-government. The town remained an administrative centre (in Lithuanian, “valsčius”). It was only in 1791 that the city was granted the Magdeburg rights, but the townspeople did not make use of them, because almost immediately the entire area became part of Russia. The Utena administrative unit (“valsčius”) belonged to Ukmergė County.
During the First World War, Utena became a county (in German, “kreis”) centre. The Bolsheviks, who occupied the city in 1918, established a revolutionary committee, but on 2 June 1919, the Lithuanian military’s 1st Infantry Regiment, commanded by Kazys Ladyga, liberated the city. The city’s municipal government was established, as was Utena County, which was abolished only in 1950. During the years of occupation by the USSR, Utena did not have genuine self-government.
In 1990, the Utena District Municipality’s council was elected, and since 1995, the city has the status of a separate eldership within the municipality.
Heraldry. The city’s coat of arms is a golden horseshoe set on a blue shield, at the foot of which is a silver spark in the shape of a vertical rhombus with eight rays.