Šiauliai (population 133,900) is situated in the north of Lithuania, close to the site of the Battle of the Sun in which the pagan Lithuanians emerged victorious against the Crusaders in 1236. For centuries the town suffered wars, plagues and fires, and the only survivor of those distant times is the Church of St. Peter and Paul with its unique sundial. Its 70m tower is the boldest and brightest landmark in the city’s panorama. Much of the architecture that can be seen today has 18th and 19th century Classical-style features.
Rebuilt and renewed after many wars and occupations, the city of Šiauliai now boasts a pedestrian art deco-style boulevard, the first city-centre street in Lithuania to be pedestrianised.
To commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of the Sun, the new Sundial Square appeared on the edge of the city. Its highlight is a dynamic and shining sculpture of an archer designed by S. Kuzma.
Not far from Šiauliai stands the breathtaking Hill of Crosses, one of Lithuania’s main tourist sites. Literally a hill in the countryside covered with an uncountable number of crosses and crucifixes of every conceivable kind, it was first mentioned in 1850 and it is true to say that every family in Lithuania must have left a cross here. The Soviets tried to destroy the site several times, but it has reappeared on every occasion and grown even larger to become one of the most beloved of sacred sites for Catholics in Northern Europe. Pope John Paul II visited it in 1993.