Telsiai County mapTELSIAI COUNTY

Numbers and facts
Tourist information
In the Telsiai County
Telsiai Region
Plunge Region
Mazeikiai Region

Numbers and facts

  • Telsiai county lying in the North West of Lithuania covers the Northern part of Zemaitija ethnographic region.
  • The county unites Telsiai, Plunge and Mazeikiai regions municipalities’ territories area of which is 4139 km˛. It is one of the smallest counties in Lithuania. There are 182.8 thousand inhabitants: 97% of them are Lithuanians, 2 % - Russians, 1 % - other nationalities.
  • The county has border on Latvia. In Lithuania it adjoins with Siauliai, Taurage and Klaipeda counties. Lots of forests embellish the landscape of the counties.
  • There are a lot of rivers, rivulets and picturesque lakes of various size.
  • The highest point of the county is Satrija hill (228 m above sea level).
  • From the point of ethnographic view all the county is in Zemaitija and in every day’s life till nowadays people speak in Zemaiciai dialect. The center of the county Telsiai is called the capital of Zemaitija from ancient times.

Tourist information

  • Telsiai County Chiefs Administration
    Zemaites street 14, LT-5610 Telsiai, Lithuania
    Tel./fax (370 94) 51442
  • Telsiai County Business and Training Centre
    Zemaites street 14, LT-5610 Telsiai, Lithuania
    Tel./fax (370 94) 53099
  • Zemaitija National Park
    Tourism Information center, Plateliai, Plunge reg.
    Tel. (37018) 49231, fax (370 18) 51281
  • Varniai Regional Park
    Oztakiai village, Varniai, Telsiai region
    Tel. (370 94) 42596, 47415

In the Telsiai County

  • From ancient times Zemaiciai were brave defenders of their land, who had courage, persistence and respect to their ancestors. Today all speak in Zemaiciai dialect, live under that cultural spirit, which was given by history, they like the old dishes of Zemaiciai.
    Telsiai county joining three regions Telsiai, Plunge, Mazeikiai, is active in republic’s economic and cultural life.
  • There are 29 big industrial enterprises in the county. Joint-stock companies Mazeikiu nafta, Zemaitijos pienas are the biggest ones not only in Lithuania, but in Latvia and Estonia, too.
  • The companies produce textile, knitted garments, leather, art and furniture articles. There are a lot of construction organizations in the county, but food, building materials and oil processing industry is dominating. Such joint-stock companies as Eliuda, Zemaitijos keliai, Telsoda, Linu audiniai, Litoda, Plunges grudai, Ingman-Vega, Mazeikiu pienine, Uotas are known not only in Lithuania, but abroad, too.
  • Telsiai county is the land of agriculture and cattle-breeding. There are 217,3 thousand ha soil suitable for cultivation and 172,9 thousand ha of it is being plugged. The land of private husbandry covers 109 thousand ha.
  • In the county as everywhere in Lithuania, private husbandry and agriculture companies predominate, accordingly 7762 and 60. The farmers grow cattle and traditional crops such as ryes, wheats, barley, potatoes.
  • People in the county begin growing non traditional agriculture crops and cattle. Some of them start other business as growing berries, mushrooms, medical herbs, fish and other water fauna. They wattle of thin twigs, make handicrafts, process agriculture production and develop country tourism.
  • There are 199 educational institutions in the county: 4 gymnasiums, 41 secondary schools, 32 pre-school institutions, 16 extra training institutions, 3 special schools, 2 children houses, 7 manual training schools.
  • Telsiai higher school of applied art, priests’ seminary, Rietavas higher agriculture school make Telsiai county more known.
  • The children of the county attend supplementary schools as music, sports, art and take part in various extra-curricular activities (clubs, societies). They learn folk songs and dances, ball-room dances, parachute-jumping. The children take part in republic contests of exact sciences and the humanities where they take prizes and make our county famous.
  • The county also has its cultural life. There are a lot of international festivals as folklore one Er paauga zale leipa, comedies festival Cha-cha-cha, children’s folklore festival As pasiejau veina popa in Telsiai, the brass band festival, folklore festival Saulele raudona in Plunge, the brass band, songs and dances, trade festival in Mazeikiai. A lot of festivals are organized not only by urban people but by country people too.
  • Such monuments as Telsiai old city, Cathedral, Varniai St. Alexander and St. Peter and Paul churches, Telsiai Bernardin’s monastery, Plunge and Rietavas, Renavas and Plinkses stately estates ensembles, Seda, Berzoras churches’ ensembles, Small Bazilika of Zemaiciu Kalvarija, with statues of much troubles amaze us with their historic value, beauty and majesty.
  • Tourists are interested in Zemaiciai museum Alka, countryside museum, Zemaiciai art museum, Mazeikiai museum of regional study, exposition of Lithuanian Art museum in Renavas estate, Militaristic museum in the territory where was a secret base of thermonuclear rockets, writers’ Zemaite, Satrijos Ragana, poet Vytautas Macernis, Juozas Vaickus, the theater founder, memorial museums.
  • We hope that such museums as bishop history which are being established in Lithuania will attract people’s attention.
  • We are rich in our history, cultural values and old-time customs.
  • You are welcome to us, you are welcome to cooperate in all spheres-business, culture, sports. We want to make you as rich as we are.

Telsiai Region

  • Telsiai is the administrative center of the region. The region stretches in the North West of Lithuania, in the Zemaitija (Samogitia) and covers an area of 1439 km˛. The population of it is 61.5 thousand. About 31 % of the territory is covered by forests. The lakes and water depositories cover 2800 ha (1,9% of the total area).
  • The biggest lakes out of 47 ones are Lukstas, Mastis, Tausalas, Germantas,and Birzulis.
  • The beautiful river Virvyte with its tributaries flows through the region. Lots of wonderful nature and historic values are girdled by Varniai Region Park. There are over 300 cultural monuments in the region.

Plunge region

  • Plunge is the administrative center of the region. The area of the region is 1692 km˛. The population is 56.7 thousand.
  • National Park of Zemaitija with Plateliai lake district is its pride and decoration. There are 37 lakes in the region. The river Minija with tributaries shows its beauty and in the southern part -upper reaches of the Jura. 37.9% of the region territory is covered by forests, mostly fir-groves.
  • There are over 350 cultural monuments in the region.

Mazeikiai region

  • Mazeikiai is the administrative center of the region. The area of it is 1009 km˛. The population is 64.5 thousand.
  • The region hasn’t many water reservoirs. Out of three lakes. Plinksiai is the most beautiful one.
  • Plinkses and Renavas’ landscape parks, which are being taken care by state, are the pride of Mazeikiu region.
  • There are over 150 cultural monuments in the region.

Text by I. Satkauskiene, L. Sirastanovas.
Translation: I. Petrauskiene
Photo: R. Eitkevicius, M. Šilinskas, S. Varnas, V. Bezaras
(By the publication Telsiai county. Klaipeda, 1998)


  • The Samogitians sometimes say jokingly that a building is “as tall as in Telsiai”. This is not because there are many multistory buildings in this city. By saying this they take pride in their capital. Telsiai is a district center as well as the diocesan center of this region.

  • The town lies on seven hills next to Lake Mastis. Its name derives from the small River Telse that flows into the lake. Archaeological findings from peat bogs around the lake suggest that people have been living here for at least 6,000 years. Telsiai was marked in 13th-century maps. The first reference to it in Livonian Order chronicles dates from 1450.

  • Telsiai started to grow in the 17th century. At that time a noblemen’s seimelis (little Seimas) met regularly and the town benefited from trade privileges. When Bernardin monks settled here, a baroque and classical church and an abbey were built. Maybe this was an effort to ask for God’s mercy and protection from misfortunes like those that had devastated the town at the beginning of the 18th century.At that time one third of the population died as the result of a massacre by the Swedish army and of plague epidemics.

  • In 1791 Telsiai received a town charter. The town grew to become a center for many religious communities. In the 19th century there was a famous school for rabbis where representatives from all over the world came to study. The Russian Orthodox church, built in the middle of the 19th century, is still there.

  • A bishop’s palace was built and a seminary opened which was closed after the Soviet occupation. It was reopened during the times of the revival movement in 1989.

  • Up till now the city has retained its status as a center for Catholicism: the bishop’s palace, Catholic schools and societies are situated here.

  • Telsiai school has a long history. The first school opened in 1612. Later the city had many gymnasiums. Now there are ten schools and a school of applied arts where young people from all over the country study textiles, knitting, design, woodwork and metalwork.

  • For over 50 years Telsiai has had the Alka Museum, which houses many items of Samogitia’s distinctive cultural heritage. The collection was built up by enthusiasts, societies and organizations. It includes folk art given by the makers themselves or by their children or grandchildren, materials depicting the cultural life of the region’s estates, its history and nature.

  • There is also Samogitia’s open-air museum, with authentic buildings from the 19th and early 20th century, and a wooden windmill. Visitors can visit an old smithy in which a fire burns, and watch a theater company performing in a barn. Folk art festivals and international folklore festivals are held there.

  • The inhabitants of Telsiai have long been famous for their love of dancing, singing and drama. Besides dance and song groups for all ages, the city has a popular folk theater that has played to full houses for the last 40 years, not only in Samogitia but also in other cities of Lithuania.

  • Today the capital of Samogitia covers an area of 1,500 hectares and has more than 35,000 inhabitants. Food processing companies and construction companies are based in the city.

  • Last year in Telsiai a business center financed by the Swedish government was opened. Its aim is to help people set up new businesses. Here everybody who wants to can learn about his or her chances for success and about possibilities for establishing relations between the farmer, the producer, the processing factory, the provider of services and the buyer.

Text by Juozas Kazlauskas 

© Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial Board, 2000
© Samogitian Museum ALKA, 2000

Last update 2013.03.27