Theme Week Lithuania – Šiauliai

Thursday, 23 June 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0

Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0

Šiauliai is the fourth largest city in Lithuania, with a population of 99,462. From 1994 to 2010 it was the capital of Šiauliai County. Šiauliai located in eastern part of the northern plateau, Mūša, Dubysa and Venta River divide. Distance of 210 kilometres (130 miles) to Vilnius, Kaunas – 142 km (88 mi), Klaipėda – 161 km (100 mi), Riga – 128 km (80 mi), Kaliningrad – 250 km (155 mi).

The city was first mentioned in written sources as Soule in Livonian Order chronicles describing the Battle of Saule. Thus the city’s founding date is now considered to be 22 September 1236, the same date when the battle took place, not far from Šiauliai. At first, it developed as a defence post against the raids by the Teutonic and Livonian Orders. After the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, the raids stopped and Šiauliai started to develop as an agricultural settlement. In 1445, a wooden church was built. It was replaced in 1625 with the brick church which can be seen in the city center today. Šiauliai was granted Magdeburg city rights in the 16th century when it also became an administrative centre of the area. However, in the 16th to 18th centuries the city was devastated by The Deluge and epidemics of the Bubonic plague. The credit for the city’s rebirth goes to Antoni Tyzenhaus (1733–1785) who after a violent revolt of peasants of the Crown properties in Northern Lithuania (so-called in Polish: Powstanie Szawelskie, 1769), started the radical economic and urban reforms. He decided to rebuild the city according to the Classicism ideas: at first houses were built randomly in a radial shape, but Tyzenhaus decided to build the city in an orderly rectangular grid. Šiauliai grew to become a well-developed city, with several prominent brick buildings. In 1791 Stanisław August Poniatowski, king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, confirmed once again that Šiauliai’s city rights and granted it a coat of arms which depicted a bear, the symbol of Samogitia, the Eye of Providence, and a red bull, the symbol of the Poniatowski family. The modern coat of arms has been modelled after this version. After the Partitions of Poland, Šiauliai received a new coat of arms. The city grew and became an important educational and cultural centre. Also, infrastructure was rapidly developing: in 1836–1858 a road connecting Riga and Tilsit was built, in 1871 a railroad connecting Liepāja with Romny was built. Šiauliai, being in a crossroad of important merchant routes, started to develop as an industrial town. Already in 1897, it was the third-largest city in Lithuania with a population of about 16,000. The demographics changed also: 56.4% of the inhabitants were Jewish in 1909. Šiauliai was known for its leather industry. Chaim Frenkel owned the biggest leather factory in the Russian Empire.

Town hall © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0 Šiauliai Cathedral © mzopw/cc-by-sa-3.0 Cockerel Love Clock, a popular meeting and dating place © flickr.com - Guillaume Speurt/cc-by-sa-2.0 Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0 Hill of Crosses © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0 Pedestrian boulevard © Lazdynas/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Cockerel Love Clock, a popular meeting and dating place © flickr.com - Guillaume Speurt/cc-by-sa-2.0
During World War I, about 85% of the buildings were burned down and the city centre was destroyed. After the war and re-establishment of Lithuania, the importance of Šiauliai grew. Before Klaipėda was attached to Lithuania, the city was second after Kaunas by population size. By 1929 the city centre was rebuilt. Modern utilities were also included: streets were lighted, they had public transportation, telephone and telegraph lines, water supply network and sewer. The first years of independence were difficult because the industrial city lost its markets in Russia. It needed to find new clients in Western Europe. In 1932 a railroad to Klaipėda was built and it connected the city to the Western markets. In 1938, the city produced about 85% of Lithuania’s leather, 60% of footwear, 75% of flax fibre, 35% of candies. Culture also flourished as many new periodicals were printed, new schools and universities opened, a library, theatre, museum, and normal school were opened.

In 1939, one-fifth of the city’s population was Jewish. German soldiers entered Šiauliai on June 26, 1941. The first mass murder of Šiauliai Jews was perpetrated in the Kužiai forest, about 12 kilometres outside Šiauliai, on June 29, 1941. According to one of the Jewish survivors of Šiauliai, Nesse Godin, some 700 people were shot in nearby woods during the first weeks of occupation after having been forced to dig their own graves. Beginning on July 29, 1941, and continuing throughout the summer, the Germans murdered about 8,000 Jews from Šiauliai and the Šiauliai region in the Kužiai forest. One hundred twenty-five Jews from Linkuva were also murdered there, along with ethnic Lithuanian and Russian members of the Communist Party and the Communist Youth. The Šiauliai Ghetto was established in July 1941. There were two Jewish ghetto areas in Šiauliai, one in the Kaukas suburb, and one in Trakų. During World War II, the Jewish population was reduced from 8,000 to 500. Approximately 80% of the buildings were destroyed (Šiauliai offensive). The city was largely rebuilt anew in a typical Soviet fashion during the years of subsequent Soviet occupation.

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Read more on Šiauliai, VisitSiauliai.lt, lithuania.travel – Šiauliai, Hill of Crosses, Wikivoyage Šiauliai and Wikipedia Šiauliai. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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