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Telšiai County

First mentioned

Local time
Tuesday 11:07 PM

Ethnographic region

Telšiai town eldership

17 km²

Metro population

Telšiai httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Capital of
Samogitia (unofficial) Telšiai County Telšiai district municipality Telšiai town eldership Telšiai rural eldership

1°C, Wind N at 8 km/h, 76% Humidity

Telšiai District Municipality

Telšiai Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius Priest Seminary

Clubs and Teams
FC Džiugas Telšiai, BC Telšiai, Germantas Telsiai

Tel iai in lithuania

Telšiai ( pronunciation , known also by several alternative names) including Telsiai and Telschi in English sources, is a city in Lithuania with about 25,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of Telšiai County and Samogitia region, and it is located on the shores of Lake Mastis.


Map of Tel%C5%A1iai, Lithuania

Telšiai is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania, probably dating earlier than the 14th century. Between the 15th and 20th centuries, Telšiai became a district capital and between 1795 and 1802 it was included in the Vilnius region. In 1873, Telšiai was transferred to the Kaunas region.


The name of Telšiai has been recorded in different forms and different languages throughout its history. Most of them are derived from Telšē in Samogitian dialect. Some foreign names for the city include Latvian: Telši; German: Telsche, Telschi; Polish: Telsze; Russian: Тельшяй, Тельши, Тяльшяй. In Yiddish, formerly a primary language of the city, the name is טעלז‎ (Telz).


Lake Mastis is mentioned in various legends and myths. The city was named after a small rivulet, the Telšė, which flows into Lake Mastis. A legend has it that a knight named Džiugas founded the city. Telšiai was first mentioned in written sources around 1450, but the oldest archeological findings in the area of the city are from the Stone Age.

In the 15th century, Telšiai already had a state-owned manor. It and the parish were governed by Samogitian elders. Telšiai was at the centre of an uprising of Samogitian peasants.

At the end of the 17th century Telšiai became the centre of culture and politics of Samogitia. Local parliaments known as Sejmiks composed of noblemen were organised in the city and a court was established. Magdeburg rights were granted to Telšiai in the 17th century.

During the November Uprising of 1831 Telšiai became a sanctuary for Polish–Lithuanian partisans fighting the Russians. A revolutionary government of insurrectionists was formed and schools for the preparation of military officers and noncommissioned officers were opened. During the Uprising of 1863, Telšiai was one of the main centres of uprise in Samogitia since insurrectionist forces massed there.

At the end of the 19th century Telšiai started to grow. A team of firemen formed, and a pharmacy and a theater were opened. In 1908 the very first Lithuanian concert–performance was organised.

The city survived two Polish revolutions, was conquered by the Germans in World War I, and occupied by the Red Army for a short time in 1918.

During the years of Lithuanian independence, 1918 to 1940, Telšiai grew rapidly. Several girls' and boys' high schools, a crafts school and a teacher's seminary were established. The Alka museum was built, and several cultural societies were operated. In 1935, Telšiai became the centre of country administration.

During the first Soviet occupation, as a result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Telšiai became infamous for the nearby Rainiai massacre, a mass murder of 76 Lithuanian political prisoners perpetrated by the Red Army during the night of 24–25 June 1941.

Nowadays Telšiai is the 12th largest city in Lithuania. It is the centre of Telšiai County and Telšiai district municipality. The city has four gymnasiums, four secondary schools, and five primary schools. Faculties of Vilnius Academy of Art, College of Social Sciences and College of Samogitia are also established in Telšiai.

On 22 January 2013 The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania officially announced that Telšiai will be named the Lithuanian Capital of Culture in 2016.

Jews in Telšiai

In 1897, the Jewish population numbered 3088, 51% of the total population. Jews were expelled during World War I, but by 1939, 2800 had returned, out of a general population of 8000. Many were involved in trade which included produce, wood, and crafts.

A major source of income was the famous Telšiai Yeshiva, (a school for Talmudic study, sometimes called a rabbinical college). It was the largest and most famous yeshiva in Lithuania between 1875 and 1941, establishing Telšiai as a center of Torah studies (the entire body of religious law and learning, including both sacred literature and oral tradition). There was also an Orthodox Jewish rabbinical seminary and a Jewish day school providing secular and religious instruction for younger children.

Following World War I and the expulsion of the Jews—which decimated the Telšiai Jewish community—the city again became a center of traditional Jewish learning. There were also charitable institutions, including a Chevra Kadisha (burial society), a hospital, a loan society, a public kitchen, a clinic, special summer camps, and a women’s association for support of the sick and poor. There were also two Jewish newspapers, published in Yiddish.

In 1931, Telšiai became a city of the first order. During the Holocaust in 1939 when the Russians enter Lithuania they eventually closed down the yeshiva. Most of the students dispersed with only about a hundred students remaining in Telshe. Learning was done in groups of 20-25 students studying in various batai medrashim ("small synagogues") led by the rosh yeshivas.

In 1940, after the Soviets captured Lithuania, the yeshiva and all religious schools were closed. As young students were fleeing the yeshiva, trying to save the Torahs (scrolls of the law) by carrying them in their hands, they were shot dead in the streets. During the subsequent occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany during World War II, the large Jewish population of Telšiai was almost completely annihilated.

Telšiai has a rare, surviving wooden synagogue.

The original yeshiva building still stands in Telšiai; it is now occupied by an electrical company.

The yeshiva was transplanted to the United States in 1941, during World War II, when two of its roshei yeshiva ("deans") who had escaped the Holocaust chose to re-establish it in Cleveland, Ohio, where it still remains. The yeshiva was opened in the house of Yitzchak & Sarah Feigenbaum on 20 Cheshvan 5702 (1941). This yeshiva again became a well-respected center of Talmudic study, incorporating the distinct methods of the historic institution, and it is still going strong today.

Centre of Roman Catholic Diocese

A Roman Catholic Diocese of Telšiai was established in 1926 with its centre in Telšiai. Justinas Staugaitis, one of the twenty signatories to the Act of Independence of Lithuania, became the first bishop of the diocese.

In 1927, a Priest Seminary was established. It was closed in 1946 after the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union but re-established at the end of the Cold War.

Present day architectural monuments include Telšiai Cathedral and the Church of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, Telšiai.


Samogitian Museum Alka was established in 1932 by the Society of Ancient Samogitians' Fans Alka. The museum operated in a house specially rented for it until the current museum palace was built in 1938. Currently, Museum Alka is famous in Samogitia for its accumulation of over 62 thousand showpieces, 70 thousand pieces of estate archives, a 12 thousand book scientific library, and 15 thousand film negatives. The museum has a large historical exposition of Samogitia as well as a large collection of paintings of famous Lithuanian and foreign artists.

In the southern part of the city close to the Lake Mastis there is a city park with the Open-Air Museum of Rural Life of Samogitia. It was opened in 1983 and has an exposition of typical homesteads of 19th century Samogitia. Currently there are 16 authentic buildings. The museum exhibition is arranged in homestead sections: a rich farmer’s grange; a barn; a poor farmer’s grange, and a simple peasant’s grange. Museum visitors can also get acquainted with a windmill, smithy, threshing barn and associated equipment.

Drama Theater and Culture Centre

The Drama Theater of Žemaitė, named after famous Lithuanian author Žemaitė, is one of the oldest theaters in Lithuania. The origins of the theater in Telšiai starts in the beginning of 20th century when student of arts and medicine Vaseris came back to Telšiai from Kiev and presented two performances in the empty barracks of the town. The Theater is a member of the International Amateur Theatre Association. Nowadays it has two troupes of actors: adult actors (director K. Brazauskas) and youth Savi actors (director L. Pocevičienė). The head of the theater is Artūras Butkus.

Telšiai also has a Culture centre. It was established in 1946. Current building of the centre was built in 1974. Since 2007 the building is under reconstruction. Currently it has 13 art collectives.

Media in Telšiai

The main newspaper in the city and the region of Telšiai is Kalvotoji Žemaitija (Hilly Samogitia), which was established on 19 April 1941. It is published three times a week and is available online. The second largest newspaper of Telšiai is Telšių žinios (The News of Telšiai) established on 1 October 1999. It is published twice a week and is also available online.

The main online portal for the city is, which is part of the group of portals


The main library is the Telšiai Karolina Praniauskaitė Regional Public Library, located in the city centre. It was established in 1922. In 1967 it was named as the best district library in Lithuania. In 1997, the library was named after Karolina Praniauskaitė, the first female poet of Samogitia.


The old town of the city of Telšiai is one of seven protected old towns in Lithuania. Additionally to the Samogitian museum Alka and Open-Air Museum of Rural Life of Samogitia mentioned above, the main tourist attractions in Telšiai are A. Jonušo Samogitian-Japanese-Chinese Homestead-Museum, Telšiai Cathedral and Telšiai Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius Priest Seminary (on the top floor of the Priest Seminary it is possible to see a panorama of the city), Telšiai yeshiva, the Church of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, Telšiai (known as the "Little Church"), and the Orthodox Church of St. Nicolaus.

A Tourist Information Center can be found in the centre of the town.

Telšiai was announced as tourists destination by EDEN in 2013.


Telšiai is located in the middle of the Samogitian Heights. The city was built on seven hills on the shores of Lake Mastis. The nearby Šatrija hill (227 m) is a nature preserve.

Government of Telšiai

According to the Law on the Territorial Administrative Units and Their Boundaries of the Republic of Lithuania, Telšiai is the centre of Telšiai County as well as the centre of Telšiai district municipality.

The city of Telšiai is also the centre of Telšiai town eldership. It was established in 1997. Its area is 16.4 km2 (6.33 sq mi). According to 2006 statistics, the density of the eldership is 1862 žm./km². Telšiai city eldership has six sub-elderships, whose purpose is to represent communities of inhabited places. The sub-elderships are: Germantas; Karalius Mindaugas (King Mindaugas), Luokė, Mastis, Naujamiestis and Senamiestis.


Telšiai is an important economic centre of Samogitia. Affiliates of major Lithuanian banks, shopping centers, etc. operate there, and some industrial companies have also been established. The largest company operating in the city is AB Žemaitijos pienas, one of the largest milk processing companies in Lithuania.

In Telšiai the "Incubator of Business of Telšiai County" was established in order to help new businessmen who want to start their own business as well as to stimulate the establishment of new workplaces.

In September 2012 it was announced that according to the data of the Lithuanian Department of Statistics the average salary of Lithuania grew the most rapidly in Telšiai in the second quarter of 2012.


Telšiai is one of three Lithuanian cities where a Roman Catholic Priest Seminary operates (the other two cities are Vilnius and Kaunas).

Universities and colleges

  • Telšiai Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius Priest Seminary
  • Department of Telšiai of Vilnius Academy of Art
  • Department of Arts and Pedagogics of College of Samogitia
  • Branch of College of Social Sciences
  • Gymnasiums and secondary schools

  • Žemaitė Gymnasium
  • Vincentas Borisevičius Catholic Gymnasium
  • Džiugas Gymnasium
  • Germantas High School
  • Krantas Progymnasium
  • Ateitis High School
  • Secondary School of Adults
  • Sport

    The football club FK Mastis Telšiai played in the Lithuanian Football Federation's II league's western zone. The team won silver medals in 2012 and qualified for the 1 Lyga. In 2014 team was renamed FK Džiugas. The same year the team finished second in the LFF II league's western zone. FK Džiugas now plays in the 1 Lyga. Telšiai has a football stadium with a capacity of about 3000. It has been under reconstruction since 2010 in order to meet international requirements. The reconstructed stadium is about to be opened on 15 May 2016. The LFF Cup final between FK Žalgiris and FK Trakai will be the first game in the renewed stadium.

    The Telšiai basketball club "Telšiai" was founded in 2012. In 2015 the club won the third tier Regional Basketball League title and since 2015-2016 season the team plays in the National Basketball League, in Telšiai Center of Sports and Recreation, which has a capacity of about 500. The center was built in 2010. The team finished third in 2013–14 Regional Basketball League season.

    From 1992 until 1998 Telšiai also had men's ice hockey team Germantas which played in the Lithuania Hockey League which is the premier men's ice hockey league in Lithuania. In 1996 the team finished first in the regular season but lost in the playoff finals.


    An important highway passing through Telšiai is the route A11 highway from Šiauliai to Palanga. Trains going on the routes Vilnius–Klaipėda and Radviliškis–Klaipėda pass through the Telšiai railway station. Telšiai can also be reached by bus from many Lithuanian cities and smaller towns in Telšiai county. Telšiai bus station is located near the city centre.

    Telšiai has a municipal public bus system with seven routes. Buses run from 4 am until 11 pm and tickets are sold directly in buses, although there is also an opportunity to buy monthly tickets. Telšiai also has shuttle taxis.

    Twin cities

    Telšiai has signed 11 cooperation agreements with other cities:

  • Sankt Anna am Lavantegg, Austria
  • Liezen, Austria
  • Orsha, Belarus
  • Bassum, Germany
  • Kreis Steinfurt, Germany
  • Mińsk Mazowiecki, Poland
  • Chernyakhovsk, Russia
  • Petrozavodsk, Russia
  • Sävsjö, Sweden
  • Lebedin, Ukraine
  • Krnov, Czech Republic
  • Famous people

  • Eliezer Gordon (1840–1910), Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva
  • Ilya Fadeyevich Tsion (1843–1912), physiologist
  • Stanisław Narutowicz (1862–1932), politician, signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania
  • Gabriel Narutowicz (1865–1922), first President of Poland
  • Wilfrid Michael Voynich (1865–1930), revolutionary, eponym of the Voynich manuscript
  • Michael Noyk (1884–1966), Irish Republican and solicitor, born in Telšiai
  • Vladas Petronaitis (1888–1941), soldier and lawyer imprisoned in Telšiai prior to execution by the NKVD in the Rainiai massacre
  • Justas Paleckis (1899-1980), Lithuanian journalist and nominal head of state of the Lithuanian SSR
  • Rolandas Paksas (b. 1956), former President of Lithuania
  • Alfredas Bumblauskas (b. 1956), Lithuanian historian
  • Egidijus Aleksandravičius (b. 1956), Lithuanian historian
  • Nijolė Narmontaitė (b. 1959), Lithuanian actress
  • Jurga Šeduikytė (b. 1980), Lithuanian singer
  • Giedrius Arlauskis (b. 1987), Lithuanian footballer
  • References

    Telšiai Wikipedia

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