Telšiai

Telšiai is a city called the capital of Žematija (Samogitia) located in north west Lithuania. It is also a center of region and district too. Almost 30000 citizens of Telšiai city lives in a territory of 16,4 sq.km. The city is settled on 7 hills surrounding the legendary Mastis lake, thus it is sometimes called Rome of Lithuania. The name for the city was given under name of little river Telšė which debouch into Mastis lake.

History

Telšiai was first mentioned in historical chronicles in 1450, but the territory was settled already in 14th century. According to a legend, the city was established by a valiant Džiugas. Practically, the rise of Telšiai is strongly linked with a previous settlement near the mound of Džiuginėnai. Archeologists made an illation that people from Džiuginėnai mound moved to the territory of nowadays Telšiai so it was a base for the legend about valiant Džiugas to appear.

Some historians say that Telšiai got city rights in 16th century. 17th century was the start of cultural development of the city as Bernardines were settled there then. On their initiative the beautiful stone church was built on the highest hill of the city which now is called Cathedral of Antanas Paduvietis. Slightly developing city faced an unexpected catastrophe in 1710. That was a disastrous year for the city as it was attacked by Sweden military forces: buildings collapsed, wealth was rifled, in addition to this, a terrible plague killed almost every citizen of Telšiai and its region. Luckily, Telšiai revived soon. In connection that the city had always had trading privileges, Telšiai got city rights for the second time (the first time it had lost it). In 1798 the first school was established. Actually, the 19th century was the period when Telšiai started flourishing. In the end of 19th century there were already opened such institutions like chemist, firehouse, theatre. In 1907 Telšiai survived a terrible fire, however, after that many masonries were built instead of previous wooden ones. During the years of Lithuanian independence, cultural and educative life of the city flourished – it became the main center of education in Žemaitija. Several gymnasiums, rabbi school, secondary crafts school, a museum “Alka”, a choir, a fellowship of art and stage, library, public university, theatre, sports club and other public institutions were actively working then. In 1926 a diocese was established in the city and one year later a theological college was opened there. During the years of independence, economy of Telšiai rose, thus in 1935 Telšiai was declared to be  one of primary cities in Lithuania. However, soviet occupation stopped the economy rise for long years. It revived from stagnation only in the sixth decade.

Nowadays

Telšiai is a beautiful city surrounded by marvelous nature. Its center is even declared to be the urban monument. Although Telšiai is the the smallest district in seize in Lithuania, but the region is a leader in exporting Lithuanian goods. It is called the land of dairymen and oilmen. A few leading Lithuanian business companies like “Žemaitijos pienas”, “Tichė”, “Vėtrūna” are established there. Educational point in Telšiai is also steamed out well. 3 gymnasiums, 6 secondary schools, 6 schools of career and art education, 4 institutions of higher education are established there. Telšiai city is still the center of diocese. Religious oneness of the city is obvious as there is a Telšiai seminary working, the beautiful Cathedral of Antanas Paduvietis attracts prayers from all over the region, the monastery of Bernardinai is established, a famous feast day of Žemaičių Kalvarija is organized annually. Besides, the Cathedral of Antanas Paduvietis is the only one in Lithuania which has a two storey altar.

Citizens of Telšiai are proud to live in the capital of Žemaitija. Most of them, especially older ones, even have special passports of Žemaitija. Historicaly Žemaitija region always distinguished from the rest of Lithuania in traditions, character features and especially in their local tongue. Some Lithuanians can`t even understand what people of Žemaitija talk about when they speak in their real dialect. Thus the so called samogits have some future plans to separate from Lithuania and to create their own country. Of course, these plans are declared in suspicion of play, however, you never know.

When coming to Telšiai it is definitely necessary to visit some interesting places. Firstly, it is the old museum “Alka” where the exposition telling the history of the region is exposed. On the shore of Mastis there is a city park where the museum of Žemaitija`s village is established. In the Telšiai region a Museum of Military is established in the former secret thermonuclear rocket base of soviets. Also there is a Rainiai chapel which recalls tragic memories. In 1941 in Rainiai forest there were terribly martyred and killed 76 political prisoners. For them in 1991 the Chapel of Pain of 25 meters height was built. However, don`t let yourself to feel the sadness and horror of this place for too long as there are some other, funnier places to visit like the samogitian-japanese homesteaded of A. Jonušas. The homestead looks like real mini island of Japan – the variety of Japanese exhibits and the environment surprises even real japans! Telšiai city is enriched in sightseeing places by its region. Number of mounds, estates, beauty of regional parks around it create the unique oneness of the vicinity.

The colorful land of Telšiai grew up many talented people well known nowadays – famous musicians (Jurga Šeduikytė), actors (Nijolė Narmontaitė), historians (Alfredas Bumblauskas), politicians (Rolandas Paksas). No one knows how many new national or even international celebrities from Telšiai will appear in the future. The fact is that the city is a great place to be born in, to grow in and to live in too.