Šiauliai district municipality

  Administrative centre – Šiauliai
  Area – 1807 km² (21.2 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 50 211 (14.4 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Bubiai, Ginkūnai, Gruzdžiai, Kairiai, Kuršėnai rural, Kuršėnai town, Kužiai, Meškuičiai, Raudėnai, Šakyna, Šiauliai rural

Šiauliai district municipality occupies the central part of Šiauliai county. It is situated at the crossing of three geographical regions – the borders of the slope of the Žemaičiai Upland of the Rytų (Eastern) Žemaitija Plateau, the lowland of the middle reaches of the Venta and the lowland of Mūša-Nemunėlis. The area of the district covers part of the Kurtuvėnai Regional Park. The municipality is crossed by the Venta with tributaries the Ringuva, Žižma, the tributaries of the Mūša – the Einautas, Kulpė; there are the headwaters of the Švėtė and the Dubysa. There are 27 natural lakes, as well as artificial lakes (those of Talsa, Gelsva, Ginkūnai), artificial ponds. There are the large forests of Gruzdžiai, Gubernija, Gulbinai, Rėkyva. Agricultural land makes up 57.3 %, forests – 32.7 %, roads – 1.7 %, built-up area – 1.6 %, water bodies – 2.5 %, other land – 4.2 % of the municipality. 

There is one town – Kuršėnai, and seven townships – Bazilionai Gruzdžiai, Kairiai, Kurtuvėnai, Kužiai, Meškuičiai and Šakyna. The administrative centre of the district municipality – Šiauliai; the town, however, has a status of a separate municipality, and therefore does not fall within the territory of Šiauliai district municipality.

The district is characterised by a particularly well-developed road and railway network. The district is crossed by the Via Hansa highway – an international transport corridor from Saint Petersburg to Berlin. Highways go to Klaipėda, Vilnius, Mažeikiai, railway lines go in the directions of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Riga, Liepāja, Daugavpils, which makes Šiauliai district an attractive location for business representatives. Manufacture of meat and meat products, bakery products and confectionery, flour, furniture is developed in the region. Soils are mostly sandy loam and sandy clay brown forest soils, favourable for growing various agricultural crops and gardens. Agriculture in Šiauliai district is modern and competitive; not only traditional, but also progressive, modern agricultural activities are developed. Šiauliai district is known as a centre of organic farming and unconventional crafts; its farmers developed ability to work in Eurointegration conditions.

Important architectural monuments – the church of St Michael the Archangel and sepulchral chapel in Šakyna, windmills in Meškuičiai and Žaliūkės, castle mounds of Bubiai, Šilėnai. Twelve kilometres from Šiauliai, near the Šiauliai–Riga highway and railway, there is the Jurgaičiai (Domantai) castle mound (known as the Hill of Crosses), from times immemorial called by the locals the hill of prayer, the hill of a castle, the holy hill. It is an oblong, 8–10 m high castle mound, surrounded by a mound. The slopes are sheer, at the top – an oval, 25 m long and 20 m wide field, resembling a saddle. Supposedly, there was a castle called Kule, Kulan in Livonian chronicles, which, together with three more castles, was attacked and burnt down by the Crusaders in 1348. The name of the castle is thought to be originating from the name of the nearby river of Kulvė. The crosses were for the first time mentioned in written sources in 1850, although their appearance is often related to the suppression of the uprising of 1831 and later repressions. The Hill of Crosses is wrapped in many legends.

As the national revival had begun in the year of 1988, the status of the Hill of Crosses changed completely – it became not only national, but also world patrimony. Currently, there are over fifty thousand various crosses, roadside shrines, statues and icons with rosaries. The castle mound is adorned with a tracery of crosses. Each cross has its own history, its purpose. The Hill of Crosses never stands alone – it is constantly visited by people of different ethnicity, generations, even confessions, looking for tranquillity, devout concentration, wishing to be heard by Heaven.

Useful links
Šiauliai district municipality