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About Lithuania » Šiauliai

Siauliai

Some facts: The present city name is traced to the word "saulys" (the shot). People say that in the old days, the surrounding woods were abundant with wild beasts and birds, therefore, the hunters and the shots' settlement on the bank of the lake was called Siauliai. Siauliai is the forth biggest city in Lithuania (pop. 129 000). The distance from Siauliai to Vilnius is 214 km, to Kaunas 142 km, to Klaipeda 165 km and to Riga 128 km.
History: First historical sources which mention the name of Siauliai described the march of the order of Livonia and the 1236 battle of Saule. The Victory of Lithuanians and their allies in this battle is a very important event in the history of the State of Lithuania. In the 15th-18th centuries Siauliai became an important economic and administration center of Northern and Western Lithuania. Trade roads connected Siauliai with Riga and Klaipeda, and the famous Hanse Trade league points on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Many ideas of 19th-20th century culture and democracy were born in the circles of Siauliai intelligentsia. Later their members took part in creating the independent state of Lithuania. The wars of the 20th century almost wiped Siauliai from the surface. The present appearance reflects postwar (1946-1990) buildings. Only the architectural monument of the 17th century St.Peter and Paul Cathedral still recalls the past as well as the town streets reconstructed in the classical style. During the last decades of our century new residential districts Lieporiai, Dainai, Gytariai (1970-1990) were built. At the same time the pedestrian zone of Vilnius street was renovated (1975-1986). Modern Siauliai is the county and diocese center. It is a town with the youngest University in Lithuania (1997), a town of singing and musical traditions.
Town: The city is built on the busy crossroad of the Baltic highways. It is the cultural and industrial center of northern Lithuania. Throughout all its history the city was on fire for 7 times, there was plague here 7 times too, wars devastated it 7 times too. Siauliai doesn’t have an old town, however, there is an old street network left and a renaissance style St Peter and Paul Cathedral. The oldest clock of the city is on the southern side of St Peter and Paul Cathedral wall, which shows exact local time. Solar Clock Square remembers historical events because the Solar Battle was very important for the whole Lithuania. The square makes sense of meaning of three symbols, which are connected to the birth of the city, its history and name: the sun, the shot and time. The square and the sculpture were built to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the city. One can also see Frenkelis Palace in the city. Walking up the Vilnius street, so called walking street, one can admire small city sculptures. Siauliai is the city, which was rebuilt anew several times. However, it has expanded, changed and became more beautiful. Cultural life also developed as the city grew bigger. Now the cultural life is intense, various festivals and exhibitions are being held. Visitors of the city are surprised at the vitality of Siauliai cultural life. Many visitors are attracted to Siauliai during the traditional occasional events of the City Days. After having a walk in the main walking street – Vilnius street, in the very center, one could find bicycle museum, a photography museum, a radio and television museum, there is a water tower museum in the water tower. In the town is established one of the most unusual museums, the cats museum.

What to see: The Hill of Crosses. Almost everyone, who comes to Šiauliai, wants to see the unique Jurgaičiai (Domantai) Mound, called the Hill of Crosses, situated 12 km away from the town. The Hill of Crosses is spiritual temple of many Catholics. Crosses were for the first time mentioned in the written sources in 1850 in this place. Their origin is associated with the suppression and victimization of the rising of 1831. In 1961, the Soviet authority started destroying the Hill of Crosses, however unsuccessfully. Today, the torment, hope, and thanksgiving of the people is commemorated by about 100 thousand of various crosses from many countries. On September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses. Since then, this temple is visited not only by the worshippers, but also the tourists, wishing to leave here a cross of their hope. In 2000, the Minorite Monastery started operating at the Hill of Crosses.
Accommodation: There are more than 10 hotels, 4 guesthouses, motels where you can stay in Siauliai.