Discover the city of the Sun Šiauliai and its surroundings
Šiauliai is the fourth most populous city in Lithuania, often called the City of the Sun, and sometimes even the cycling capital. It is famous for its only bicycle museum in the country, Chaim Frenkel’s villa, Lithuanian candy factory Rūta and more.
We start our acquaintance with this region from Burbiškis manor, which became most famous since the tulip flowering festival taking place here. The park of the landscape-type manor, occupying 28 ha, features impressive ponds with as many as 15 islands. The manor buildings are designed to form a large enclosed courtyard, thus reminiscent of a fortress. The park is rich in the works of the sculptor Kazimieras Ulianskas: the monument to the poet Adam Mickiewicz (built in 1911), the monument to the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (built in 1912), the magnificent gates of the park, the lion bridge. There are paths in the park, pond islands are connected by as many as 12 bridges, let’s take a walk!
We continue on to the Hill of Crosses. In the Middle Ages, a wooden castle stood on this hill, which was destroyed by the Livonian army and for many centuries the hill stood bare. Mound, popularly called the Castle Hill, crosses were built in the middle of the 19th century. Locals say the first crosses were built in prayers to God for health. According to other stories, the construction of crosses on the hill began in memory of those who died in the uprising in 1863. After suppressing of the uprising, the tsarist government forbade the construction of crosses – people whose homesteads had crosses were punished and the cross were destroyed. The pious people did not intend to refuse to build crosses. They chose a more remote place, such was the Hill of Crosses. So the Hill of Crosses is also a sign of the strength of faith that overcomes all obstacles. The most important event in the history of the Hill of Crosses, which made it famous all over the world, was the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993. The Holy Father prayed on the Hill of Crosses, sacrificed the Mass in the chapel built by the hill and addressed a huge crowd of believers. Over 100,000 crosses are counted here today!
We hurry to the city of the Sun – Šiauliai. The villa of Chaim Frenkel, one of the richest industrialists of the time miraculously survived the 19th – 20th centuries. It implemented 20th c. early technical innovations: water supply, central heating, electricity, telephone. Today it is an exceptional place in Šiauliai. It is unique buildin of modern architecture, one of the few in Lithuania from the beginin of the 20th. c. The authentic interior and the facade intertwine elements of various styles. It charmes by the surviving wooden decoration, ornate moldings, fragments of impressive frescoes. The expositions of the villa present the culture of the manors of the Lithuanian province and the interwar city of Šiauliai,including the Jewish heritage. Next to the villa we will take a walk in a modern style park.
It’s time to indulge and visit the „Rūta“ Chocolate Museum. When you visit, it becomes clear where the “chocolate trees” grow, how chocolate was made by the Mayans and Aztecs, and how the traditions of its consumption have changed over the centuries. It also tells about the first Lithuanian chocolate factories and the longest-running candy factory in the country „Rūta“. There is no shortage of interactive activities in the museum: you can also take photos. mail your photo or creat a candy wrapper to friends, play a variety of chocolate-related games.
Šiauliai is inseparable from bicycles. Sometimes the city is also called the capital of this bike vehicle. Šiauliai bicycle and engine factory „Vairas“ has been operating here for many years. Let’s visit the only bicycle museum in the country. The museum still exhibits the entire history of bicycle development from the 18th century until these days. Among the most interesting exhibits we will see – Lithuanian handmade bicycle in Žagarė in 19th century; century old iron children’s tricycle, etc.
From Šiauliai we go to Kurtuvėnai manor. It is one of the oldest manors in Lithuania, dating back to the 15th – 16th centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, Kurtuvėnai manor was not only the economic but also the cultural center of the region. Povilas Višinskis taught children here, writers Jonas Biliūnas, Žemaitė, Šatrijos Ragana visited it. The roads of booksmugglers passed through Kurtuvėnai. Today, the most valuable building in Kurtuvėnai is a unique baroque wooden barn building of 18th century.
We end our acquaintance with this country in a special ham tasting. What an unexpected curiosity, the delicacy is waiting for us here. This is the only ham matured for five days! During the research, recipes of traditional dishes of this region were collected. One of the most interesting is this five-day-matured ham, which has long been prepared during the big holidays. Let’s hurry up taste the ham!
OR: We will end our acquaintance with this land in the live horse museum. The Kurtuvėnai manor stud farm is located in a peaceful area surrounded by impressive nature, but at the same time its own life boils here – over 30 horses live in the stud farm. What we choose depends only on us. Either or a riding lesson or maybe a ride in an authentic carriage.