Šiauliai town municipality

  Administrative centre – Šiauliai
  Area – 81 km² (0.9 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 127 059 (36.3 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Medelynas, Rėkyva

Šiauliai is a town of Northern Lithuania, located on eastern slopes of Žemaičiai Upland, at the watershed of the basins of the Mūša, Dubysa, Venta and Nevėžis rivers. The urban scenery is enlivened by low hills, lakes, ponds and parks. In the southern part of Šiauliai, there is the tenth largest lake in Lithuania – Rėkyva Lake, surrounded by marshes and peat bogs. The hilliest, picturesque eastern part of Šiauliai is adorned with Salduvė pond. Talša Lake with its environs is a historically, culturally, economically and recreationally important location of Šiauliai. There are as many as 16 larger and smaller parks. Didždvaris, Gubernija and Rėkyva parks are included on the list of cultural values. Built-up area makes up 51.3 %, water bodies – 15.8 %, forests – 8.4 %, roads – 3.9 %, agricultural land – 9 %, other land – 11.6 % of the municipality.

The town ranks fourth in the country in terms of the population; it is an administrative centre of Šiauliai county, Šiauliai town and district municipalities. It is also a diocesan centre. The name of Šiauliai was for the first time mentioned in written sources in 1236 – in a Livonian Chronicle written in verse, describing the Battle of Saule (Saulės mūšis). The land of Šiauliai was for the first time mentioned in a Livonian act of 1254. Šiauliai is a town that took over the name of the land of Šiauliai; the town may be classified under the group of the oldest cities of Lithuania, which were founded at the beginning of the 15th century. In 1524, Šiauliai town was for the first time mentioned in historical sources – in a paper of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund I the Old (Žygimantas Senasis). The end of the 18th century is of particular importance to the history of the town: in 1791, Stanisław II August Poniatowski (Stanislovas Augustas), the last King and Grand Duke of the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, established the self-government of Šiauliai town in his privilege. In the times of World War I, 65 % of all buildings in the town were destroyed. The town was rebuilt and started growing rapidly in the interwar period and after World War II.

Šiauliai is the key industrial, cultural, and scientific centre of Northern Lithuania. It is crossed by railways to Tallinn, Kaliningrad, Minsk, Liepāja, Vilnius, etc., as well as by a highway Via Baltica. There is a big military and civil Zokniai airport. Food, light, wood processing industry is developed.

As early as at the beginning of the 19th century, Šiauliai became an important educational and cultural centre, the epicentre of a nascent national movement of Lithuanians. At the end of the 19th century, the famous Šiauliai May Day meetings (outings; the so-called gegužinės), meetings of Lithuanian intelligentsia took place, where relevant issues of the national movement were solved. Alongside political discussions, there were also concerts and performances the germ of Lithuanian theatre. In 1908 - 1914, cultural and educative activities were engaged in by the famous Šiauliai Varpas (The Bell) Lithuanian drama, music and song society. Literary and public activities of many writers and poets were related with the history of the town. Šiauliai was famed for its abundant and creative intelligentsia; P. Višinskis, A. Janulaitis, S. and K. Venclauskis, A. Povylius, Zubov, P. Bugailiškis, Biržiška, J. Šalkauskis, etc. should be mentioned in this respect.

Today Šiauliai has a university, colleges, a drama theatre, etc. There are about 40 cultural monuments – the church of Sts Peter and Paul, former palace of Ch. Frenkel (1908, today – Aušra museum), central building of a post office (1939) and others. The main celebration – the Day of the Battle of Saule and the data of birth of Šiauliai town, celebrated on the 22nd of September.

Useful links
Šiauliai town municipality
Šiauliai tourism information centre
Šiauliai county Povilas Višinskis public library
Šiauliai town municipality public library