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Information about Siauliai

The history of Siauliai
We would like to tell you about our native town Siauliai. Siauliai is situated in North East of Lithuania, that’s why it is called the capital of Northern Lithuania. In terms of area it is the third largest city in Lithuania (70 square kilometers) and according to the number of inhabitants it is the fourth. At the moment, the number of inhabitants in Siauliai is 150 thousand and it equals such well-known European cities as Bern in Switzerland and Salzburg in Austria. Siauliai is situated 226 kilometers from the capital of Lithuania – Vilnius, and 128 kilometers from Riga, the capital of Latvia. It’s quite close to the four Baltic ports: Klaipeda in Lithuania, Liepaja and Ventspils in Latvia, and Kaliningrad in Russia. The most important roads criss-cross Siauliai, making the city both a railway and road junction. Siauliai is also known for its military airport, the largest in the Baltic states, Zokniai, which is situated in the outskirts of the city. Now the NATO soldiers from various European countries are working there.

The cockerel clock
The cockerel clock. Now we start our journey from the city clock that is called a cockerel and is considered to be the meeting place of town dwellers – lovers and businesslike people come here for a date or meeting – “See you at the cockerel’s” is a common phrase of Siauliai dwellers. Listen what the town cockerel clock says to you! Now he not only crows, but also welcomes passers-by with “Welcome to Siauliai”. The welcoming phrase can be heard in several languages – and even Swedish!

The coat of arms
The coat of arms. On the wall of this building you can see the coat of arms of the city that was approved by the king of Lithuania and Poland, Stanislovas Augustas, in the year of 1791. The coat of arms of Siauliai city was created in 1791 when the residents of the town of Siauliai elected administrative authority and judicial officers and the town received the rights and privilege of a free city. This privilege was signed by the contemporary ruler of the Lithuanian-Polish Union Stanislovas Augustas Poniatowski and Siauliai became the first of 74 other cities in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that received the right and privilege of a free town and had got its own municipality. Three symbols of the coat of arms: Siauliai is on the border between the two Lithuanian regions – Zemaitija and Aukstaitija, so a bear on the left side symbolizes the strength of the region of Zemaitija. In 1971 the bear symbolized that the town of Siauliai belonged to the Dutchy of Žemaitija. The divine eye symbolized that the God observes if the works are performed for the benefit of the town Siauliai and according to the God's will. The red ox or bull below was a symbol of Poniatowskis’ family and symbolized Stanislovas Augustas who granted Siauliai with the rights of a free town.

The ”Old Town” – einant nuo laikrodzio iki Saulio
Now we are in the central part of the town that is also the oldest one where you can see rather many old buildings. So we can have a joke and say that this part of the city is our old town. Though actually there is not any old town in Siauliai due to the fact that during the First World War our town was devastated and two thirds of the city were destroyed. Nevertheless, the people of Siauliai rebuilt their city quickly and Siauliai again became the economical and cultural center of the region. However then the Second World War came that was very damaging to the city and destroying eighty five percent of the buildings! After this war, the city again rose like a phoenix from the ashes: it has since become even larger, nicer and modern.

The Arch
The special thing about this arch is that if you think of a wish and pass under the arch, your wish will come true. However, if you forget about it and walk under the arch, your wish will vanish into the air.

Visinskis Square
Visinskis SquareThis square was named after Povilas Visinskis, a prominent social and cultural personality and an enlightener of our nation. P. Visinskis encouraged many famous Lithuanian writers to start writing stories. The monument of him was built in 1991.

Siauliai University
This building is the faculty of Humanities at Siauliai University. There are many languages taught here: Lithuanian, English, German, Russian and even Swedish, though Swedish can be chosen only as an elective subject.

AmphitheatreThis place is called amphitheatre and is a favourite meeting place of young people in Siauliai. When the weather gets warmer Siauliai dwellers gather here to take a rest, sit and chat. There are many concerts and student festivals held in the amphitheatre as it is situated quite near the university.

Rudes fountain
The small brown-coloured dome (kupolas) symbolizes the rivulet (upelis) that used to flow here. As the time passed, the rivulet was covered (uzdengtas) and flowed under the fround along the street that bears its name. The fountain was equipped at the intersection of Vilniaus Street and and Rudes street in 1986 when the city was getting ready for its 750th jubilee. It took quite a lot of effort to tame (pazaboti) the rapid rivulet, but now we can see a fountain decorated with strange old-style carvings (raiziniais).

“Mega” and “Maxima”
On the right side of Rudes street you can see a signboard of the night-club “Mega” where young people come here to dance or play a billiard. A little bit further you can see the shopping center in Siauliai which is called Maxima.

Boulevard – Vilniaus Street
Now we are walking along the main street in Siauliai which is a boulevard and is called Vilniaus Street as it is the follow-up of the road leading towards the direction of the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius. There are plenty of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants situated alongside of this street.

Siauliai hotel
Siauliai hotelThis large building has 16 floors and is the oldest and the same time the cheapest hotel in Siauliai built in the Soviet times. At the moment NATO soldiers and town quests are living here.

Sculpture Pelicans and the fountain
A fountain and a sculpture under the same name, Pelicans, were erected in 1978 and reconstructed in 2003. Most passers-by might wonder how such exotic birds as pelicans came to Siauliai. The story is simple: once upon a time a pair of pelicans failed to keep pace with the flock. They took a wrong direction and headednorth instead of south. When flying over Siauliai, they landed to quench their thirst (numalsinti troskuli) with water from the pool. An evil sorceress turned them into stones.

The Archer and the Sun Dial square
The Archer and the Sun Dial square.For the 750th anniversary of the town, the people of Siauliai built a square of the Sundial, with a bronze sculpture of an Archer, which you can see now. The sculpture is tenderly called the Sun Boy or the little Archer (Sauliukas) by people of Siauliai. It has become a symbol of our city and swift time, flying alongside with the history of our city. So now we are starting our journey from one of the most important places in Siauliai which is the honey-pot kindly visited by the dwellers of Siauliai.
Now we are in the Sun Dial Square, which was built on the occasion of an extraordinary anniversary of the city’s foundation, its 750th jubilee. In front of you there is a sculpture of the Archer, which is covered by gold. What do you think, how much gold there is in the sculpture? Only 35 grammes! Thus when strong wind is blowing, Siauliai dwellers are afraid that it can blow the gold dust off. The Sun Dial square.
The sculpture stands on the pillar of 18 meters height. When the sun is shining the pillar casts a shadow that shows time. Hour-counting digits 12, 3 and 6 are cast into the square floor. The sequence of the digits forms the figure 1236, that is the year when the name of Siauliai was mentioned for the first time.
Hence the Sun Dial square embodies the three symbols related to the origins of the city, its history and name. The sun symbolizes the battle of Saule, which was fought in the vicinity of Siauliai in the year of 1236, while the Archer is related to the origin of the Lithuanian word “saulys” meaning an archer (compare the words “Saulys” and “Siauliai” - they have the same root!) The most popular story regarding the name of the city states that it originates from the word “saulys” (an archer). They say, that in ancient times the territory of Siauliai was covered with forests, full of birds and animals, where the hunters lived, that’s why the village near Siauliai was called the archers’ village.
The symbols of the sun and the archer unite the third one, the time. In manuscripts the name of the city was first mentioned in 1236 after the Saule battle.

The Saule Cinema theatre
Now we are in the biggest cinema theatre in Siauliai, which is called Saule. Inside there is masterpiece of stained glasses where the Sun Battle is painted. This battle was very important for us – Lithuanians – for the Teutonic Order was defeated for the first time in Lithuanian history.

Janonis gymnasium
On the other side of the road you can see a gymnasium, the former boy’s grammar-school, given the name of the famous Lithuanian writer Julius Janonis. It is one of the oldest grammar-schools in Northern Lithuania. In 2001 it marked its 150th anniversary. The Swedish language is also taught here.

Didzvario gymnasium
Between 1846 and 1857, it was a private parish-owned girl’s school with a private girls’ boarding house: at first, there were three forms, then four. In 1947 the buildings of the girls’ grammar school was rebuilt. At a later time, when separate schools for boys and girls were joined, the grammar school became Secondary School No. 5, then Didzvaris Secondary School and finally Didzvaris Gymnasium. In 1994, the grammar school celebrated the centenary of its foundation. The Swedish language is also taught here.

Rebels’ (Sukileliu) hill
The rebel’s hill is situated next to the central market place. It is a witness to the historic events of 1863 when Lithuanian nation was under the oppression of czarist Russian and Lithuanian peasants rose in revolt against bondage. 11 rebels were buried here and in 1935 one of the largest monuments to the participants of the rebellion of 1863 was erected.

Sculpture Three Trolls and Chestnut Trees’ (Kastonu) Alley
These bearded gnomes are carved from white marble – they look serious, but their seriousness radiates kindness, and they remind one of the kindly trolls of Scandinavian myths. When chestnut trees standing along the alley named after them burst into blossom, the three trolls come to life and shine with pride.

Sculpture Dawn (Ausra)
A new sculpture entitled Dawn was erected quite recently. The idea, that was born two decades ago and received quite opposing opinion, came into a reality in 2003. The sculpture symbolizes the Ausra (Dawn) Movement of a political and literary group of Lithuanian intellectuals from the 1880s till the 1890s. They used to publish a magazine called Ausra (Dawn) and the organization was named after it. The massive sculpture carved from Swedish granite (gręnit), weights 20 tons and is of 4 meters height. It stands among the old trees of the park, next to the School Student’s house in Ausros Alley.

Resurrection (Prisikelimo) Square
This is the main square of the city called Resurrection. For hundreds of years the square served as the place for markets, fairs and busy trade. Under the Soviet times the sculpture of Lenin stood in the middle of this square. Nowadays there stands a Christmas tree in the middle of it and the facades of the these buildings as well as the trees standing there are decorated with thousands of lamps, so one month before Christmas it is quite light and cosy here. The main street of the city which is called Tilzes street divides the square into to parts. Tilzes street is the longest street that leads direct to Sovietsk in Russia and is the prolongation of the road leading to Riga, the capital of Latvia.

A Reading Man
This sculpture entitled A reading man was erected in 1938. The man of the old times who is standing on a cobbled pavement is not just an ordinary person who can read. Elderly residents of Siauliai may find his silhouette slightly familiar. A Reading man has come from the old press of Siauliai: the same hand raised his eyeglasses, the same irony. Now it reminds the old times when Siauliai was a major center of the press - that it had a few printing shops, and that not far from the place where the sculpture stands now, the well-known bookshop was situated.

Saints’ and Apostles Peter and Paul’s Cathedral
Peter and Paul’s Cathedral.The cathedral is situated in the center of the city. The architectural complex of the Cathedral consists of the cathedral itself and a churchyard fence with a gate. The construction of it began in 1594 on the site of a decayed wooden church. The building is one of the most outstanding architectural examples in the Renaissance style in Lithuania with a few features of medieval architecture. The church was granted the status of a cathedral in 1997. There are a number of stories telling why the cathedral was built at this place, and not somewhere else. A legend has it that once upon a time a huge ox wandered to Siauliai, lay down to rest, and passed away in its sleep. As the time passed, the wind covered the dead ox with dust and sand, and thus a small hill occurred. Now Saints’ and Apostles Peter and Paul’s Cathedral stands on that hill and when one approaches Siauliai from every side the Cathedral can be seen at a distance of 30 kilometers.

Siauliai Municipal Authority Building
Now we are standing in front of Siauliai Municipality Authority Building. The building is a historical monument. It actually consists of two buildings: the former People’s House and the City Hall. A niche in the structure contains a memorial wall which reads: In this house, the former people’s house. The first ever Lithuanian drama performance in Siauliai was shown on the 31st of October in 1904 with the title America in the Baths.
On the top of the building you can see a turret with a clock which is sometimes humorously called the Big Ben of Siauliai City.

The Old City Cemetery
The old Citi Cemetery. The history of the oldest cemetery adjacent to the Lake Talsa is varied and rich. It was the place of eternal rest for Catholics and followers of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as those who had not discovered any faith for themselves.
One of the oldest categories of graves is family vaults and chapels. Quite a few of such vaults can still be seen on the slopes of the highest hill in the old cemetery, around the former chapel. As very few writings on the facades of the The grave of the Lithuanian philosopher Stasys Salkauskis.vaults have stood the test of time, one can only estimate that the first vaults might be erected in the late 18th or early 19th century, while the majority of them were erected in the second half of the 19th century.
Now we are going to visit a grave of the famous Lithuanian philosopher Stasys Salkauskis as he was buried here – in the old cemetery near our school which was named after the prominent personality in Lithuania.


Written and performend by the Lithuanian students.