Kuršėnai

Kuršėnai is the biggest city in Lithuania which is not declared to be a center of region.  Located just 25 km west of Šiauliai between 2 train stations (Pavenčiai train station and Kuršėnai train station) and 2 important highways (Šiauliai – Palanga and Šiauliai - Mažeikiai), it is alive for almost  430 years. According to Lithuanian department of statistics, in the beggining of 2009, 13617 inhabitants lived there in the territory of  12 sq. km divided into 2 sides by the river Venta. Despite the fact that Kuršėnai is pretty small town, many talented and well educated people have resounded the city for centuries.

History

Kuršėnai was first mentioned in the 12th century. The name of the town is undoubtedly connected to the historical tribe of Curonians (Kuršiai in lit.), however, according to legends, once upon a time, flood of Venta washed away a hay so lost people started shouting "Kur šiens?" (Where is hay?) and that was how the name for the settlement was given. In the 14th century a palace was erected in this territory and later in 1523 when the settlement developed, the first wooden church was erected, which after several restorations was  finally rebuilt as a stone one in 1927-1933 and adorns Kuršėnai till nowadays. In the middle of the 16th century Kuršėnai was already known as a little town  in Lithuania. Until the First World War the Kuršėnai estate was ruled by family of Gruževskiai. In 1631 the verdict was signed by the king Zigmantas Vaza which declared  that eternal fief rights of ruling the Kuršėnai estate will belong to this family. In 1811 the new wooden palace was built and the domain with its outhouse flourished then even more. However, during the First World War the estate survived a fire and a surge of German military forces. Despite these difficulties the palace flourished once again when in 1940 it was nationalized. History of Kuršėnai is described not only by Gruževskiai family. There lived and worked many distinguishing and important public figures like Laurynas Ivinskis (1810 - 1881) - the former of Lithuanian calendar, military chieftain of prewar Lithuania Stasys Raštikis (1896-1985), public and art figures like Stasys Anglickis (1905 -1999), Vacys Reimeris (1921), Stasys Lipskis (1941). All these figures left an important mark in cultural and historical daily life of Kuršėnai town. The central square in the city is called the square of Laurynas Ivinskis, the main city bridge over Venta river is called the bridge of Stasys Raštikis, one of 4 schools in Kuršėnai is named Stasys Anglickis Basic School and the other is Gymnasium of Laurynas Ivinskis.

Nowadays

Forasmuch as great quarries of clay surround Kuršėnai town, it is famous for pottery art. It is even called the capital of pottery in Lithuania as every national competition held to win the crown of greatest potter  is won only by potters of Kuršėnai! In addition to this, a jar is pictured on the blazon of Kuršėnai! There is even a Center of Pottery, Folk and Crafts established in the unique wooden estate in Kuršėnai.  By the way, this estate is the same historical estate of Gruževskiai and the only one wooden fief estate left in Lithuania which nowadays needs to be repaired as soon as it is possible. Despite the fact that it is almost of emergency condition, it radiates majesty of past times of its glory in beautiful surroundings of Kuršėnai park and the bight of the river Venta. Citizens of Kuršėnai all love the estate and the park cause they are both beautiful and homey. In addition to this, Kuršėnai town can be proud to have active and well organized Culture house which is located just in front of the same park. By the way, the Museum of Calendar is established there. The Culture house resounds Kuršėnai town with number of it`s art collectives. The most famous one is the children theater “Icarus” which is known worldwide, not only in Lithuania. The theate is lead by Valskiai family  for many years already. In addition to this, there are other places for after school activities  for children in Kuršėnai. Firstly, it is the Art School of Kuršėnai, which trains musical and painting skills of children. Secondly, the Creation house of Kuršėnai propagates various crafts like the popular pottery, ceramics, weave, sewing and other activities. It is pretty hard to enumerate all possible activities, to make long story short, Kuršėnai town takes care of busyness of youth and grownups very well.

If you ever come to Kuršėnai, besides visiting the park, the old Gruževskiai estate, the beautiful church of St. John the Baptist and the pretty city center, visit the Calendar Museum as well as the Center of Pottery, Folk and Crafts. Moreover, don`t miss a chance to dine in a luxurious restaurant-hotel Romuva in Kuršėnai while watching nice panorama of the city. All in all, make a pause and try to figure out how happy people might be while living in a small city.