Šiauliai, located in northern Lithuania, is the fourth largest city in the country. It covers 81 sq km (31.3 sq mi) and has a population of 128,000 people. It is regarded as the unofficial capital of Northern Lithuania.
More on Šiauliai
Šiauliai was first mentioned in 1236, in the chronicles describing the Battle of Saule, which took place not far from the city. In the early years, it was developed as a defence line against attacks staged by the Teutonic and Livonian Orders. By the 15th century, when such raids have stopped, Šiauliai developed into a farming community. It received city status in 1589.
By the 19th century, Šiauliai had grown into an important education and cultural center for Lithuania. The leather industry was a mainstay of its economy. The First World War brought massive destruction to its buildings. The years after the war was a difficult period for Šiauliai, which lost its market in Russia following independence.
Until 1939, Šiauliai had a sizable Jewish community accounting for some 20% of its population. The Jews were systematically liquidated by the Nazis during World War II. After the war, the city was rebuilt with grim Soviet-style architecture. Only after Lithuania regained its independence that effort to rejuvenate the city was in place.
There are trains and buses connecting Šiauliai with most major cities in Lithuania.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Šiauliai
Author: ZwieRys (GNU General Public License)
Places of Interest in Šiauliai
- Aušra Museum
Founded in 1923, this is the oldest museum in Šiauliai. Named after the first newspaper in the Lithuanian language, it showcases the keepsakes of the nation of historical, archaeological and architectural value.
- Bicycle Museum
Museum tracing the history of bicycles in Lithuania.
- Cat Museum
Museum with some 10,000 pieces celebrating felines from around the world. It depicts cats of various types in a myriad of poses.
- Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul
Cathedral built in the Renaissance style in 1625 to replace the original in wood which has stood there since 1445.
- Chaim Frenkel Villa
Villa in the Art Nouveau style, once occupied by a prominent Jewish family, today is opened to the public to provide a glimpse of Jewish life and customs in the early 20th century.
- Laiptai Gallery
Gallery exhibiting works by local artists.
- Sundial Square
Square built in 1986 to commemorate the 750th anniversay of the Battle of Saule in 1236.
- Venclausky House
Privately managed art gallery housing some of the finest examples of local art.