Manors & Villages


Jaunimo St. 10, Gruzdžiai Village, Gruzdžiai Eldership, Šiauliai District

Gruzdžiai Manor was built in the 18th century however it underwent reconstruction work in the early 19th century. It is one of the greatest architectural monuments in Šiauliai District and one of the oldest estates in Lithuania. The dairy of the former manor has been turned into a black ceramics workshop (Mataičiai Black Ceramics Workshops). In total, there are 24 extant buildings of the estate. The former steward’s cottage is currently inhabited by people. Other more distinguished estate buildings are as follows: a coach house, cowsheds, stables, a barn (hall), and a water tower. The better half of the former estate buildings is owned by Gruzdžiai Agricultural School. Most of the buildings are in need of urgent repair.


Ventos St. 7, Kuršėnai, Šiauliai District

The history of Kuršėnai Manor begins in 1564 when Sigismund Augustus gave the said manor as a fief to George Despot-Zenovich, the Castellan of Polotsk. Soon, a settlement began to grow in the manor lands on the other side of the Venta, and in 1569 the first wooden church was erected. In 1621, the estate went to S. Pac, the Grand Treasurer of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and a decade later the manor became the property of George Gruzewski and his wife. At the end of the 18th century, Kuršėnai were inherited by Stephen Gruzewski. Having brought in the artist J. Rilke with the apprentice team, he built a new (current) manor house and a chapel and renovated other buildings in 1811. The estate flourished still further under ruling of his younger son Edward who took it over in 1846. The mansion and the park were devastated by the Germans who occupied the manor during the First World War and brought away the most valuable things. The fire of 1915 destroyed the peasant farms, barns, and sheds. The manor belonged to George Gruzewski at that time. Owing to advanced farming, the estate was flourishing during the interwar period. The manor was nationalized in 1940. Currently, the Centre of Ethnic Culture and Traditional Crafts of Šiauliai District Municipality operates in the manor.

Kuršėnai Manor is the sole most valuable heritage of wooden manorial architecture in Šiauliai District. The original staircase, window frames, and wooden front doors have survived.


Paežeriai Village, Raudėnai Eldership, Šiauliai District

Paežeriai Manor was built near Lake Nelinda in 1900. A paved lane leads to the entrance. Paežeriai Manor and a mixed park were set up by Pavenčiai landlord Gurskis. A historical statement about the old Paežeriai Manor Estate, prepared in 1992 by S. Gasparavičienė, testifies that Paežeriai Manor House was surrounded by a park designed in 1900-1905 by the then prominent Lithuanian pomologist Zaleskis. According to R. Aftanazis, the park at the lakeside occupied a 500 m long and 300 m wide plot. Zaleskis integrated the park and garden that had grown before it.

The manor and the park is a municipal property. Previously, the manor was equipped with Pavenčiai Sugar Factory recreation centre and rest rooms. During the summer season, youth camps are organised in the manor. Ordinary beach bathing facilities are located in the neighbourhood of the manor by the lake.


Varputėnai Village, Kuršėnai Eldership, Šiauliai District (1 km west off Kuršėnai-Šaukėnai Road)

Varputėnai is a settlement situated along the brook Kesautis, 28 km southwest of Šiauliai. The manor has been known since the 16th century (the first mentions of it refer to 1590 in the Acts of the small rural district Beržėnai, to which it belonged in those days). In 1778, it was purchased by the landlords Jelenskiai. In 1792, the Church of St. Anthony of Padua was erected in Varputėnai by Motiejus Jelenskis. In 1860, Miss Jelenskaitė married M. Burba who built an ornate two-storey mansion with a tower in Varputėnai. The manor owned 3,000 ha of land and a big stud farm. It was a representative farm at that time. The landlords had a large collection of pipes. They took care of the park, organised picnics, outdoor fete, and boating. In those days, the park was well maintained. Ponds were connected by pathways. There were small islands, bridges, and observation sites in the estate.

In 1999, property rights to the manor were restored by its successor Antanas Griškevičius. The buildings exterior and part of the interior were refurbished, a wooden manor porch was restored authentically, 140 hectares of arable land were cultivated, a herd of pedigree cows was retrieved, and a cut forest was replanted in part. The manor has a representative dairy-cheese production farm.


Parko St. 2, Kurtuvėnai, Šiauliai District

The nobleman’s homestead in Kurtuvėnai has been traced as far back as the 14th century. Mykolas Jaugelavičius, the original owner of Kurtuvėnai, was mentioned in 1495. Information about other prominent estate owners: the Kęsgailos, the Nagurskiai, the Oginsky, the Tyszkiewicz, or Plater-Zyberk is also available. In 1592, Kurtuvėnai Manor Estate consisted of over 20 wooden buildings, 5 of which were residential. A wooden baroque complex was located there in the 18th century. The construction of brick buildings began in the late 19th century. In the second half of the 16th century, Kurtuvėnai manor farm was redesigned in accordance with land measuring unit (about 20 ha) reform principles whereby a farmstead was established. The development of pond pisciculture was initiated in 1862. During independent Lithuania (the interwar period) after the land reform, Kurtuvėnai Manor was recognized as the representative farm. Today Kurtuvėnai Manor is sightworthy because of the extant park, a stud farm, ponds, and a renewed wooden baroque barn.


Dubysos St., Bubiai Village, Bubiai Eldership, Šiauliai District

Bubiai as a manor began to take shape at the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries when Catherine II, czarina of Russia, made her favourite Platon Zubov a present of Bubiai. The manor had a primary school where the Lithuanian language was taught. In 1910, a Lower Livestock and Dairy School was established. Bubiai Manor remained an important centre of culture and economy throughout the period from the late 19th century to 1940.

Apart from the mansion built in 1908, the estate complex comprises a park, a stable built in the 19th century and reconstructed in the early 20th century, a grain store, a gardener’s cottage, a lodge, a school, a teachers’ house, three peasant farms, a barn, a silo, two sheds, a distillery, a spirit repository, an outbuilding, a house, and an equipped sawmill.

Presently, one of the manor buildings accommodates a hotel.

Fragments of Ginkūnai Manor Estate; Ginkūnai Village

The folk artists Regina and Vytautas Mataičiai breathed new life into a building belonging to Gruzdžiai Manor Ensemble. Here, they established a unique black ceramics homestead which is frequented by large groups of native and foreign tourists, experts, and students due to its exclusive architecture and ancient earthenware production techniques used by the folk artists. Regina and Vytautas are members of the Lithuanian Folk Artist & Craftsmen Association. Since 1985, they have participated in republican folk art exhibitions and held six solo exhibitions. The artists’ works were exhibited in Iceland, Bulgaria, Belgium, Holland, France, Russia, Finland, and Estonia. In 2005, Regina Mataitienė was awarded the status of Art Creator by Order of the Minister of Culture. Regina Mataitienė was nominated for the first-class master of Šiauliai Region in the Republican Competitive Folk Art Exhibition “Golden Wreath” 2006. She was elected Queen of Lithuanian Potters in 2008.

Fragments of Naisiai Manor Estate; Naisiai Village

On 17 October 1987, Šiauliai District Literature Museum in Naisiai opened its doors to visitors in the native home of the poet Zigmas Gaidamavičius-Gėlė (1894 - 1912).

The idea to establish a museum in the given house rushed into the head of the bright memory ethnographer Birutė Stumbrienė. At that time, she worked in the bibliography department of Šiauliai District Central Library and had amassed plenty of source material on literary persons who had lived / worked in or descended from Šiauliai District. The given undertaking was approved by Česlovas Karbauskis, the then executive of economy. In those days, Book Festivals were already held in Naisiai whereas since 1977, the farm had established Zigmas Gėlė Prize for the best poetry debut.

The Museum has collected the data on 100 writers, linguists, and literary persons whose fates were linked to Šiauliai District: Jonas and Juozapas Lideikiai, Povilas Matulionis, Jonas Šliūpas, Augustinas Gricius, Juozas Grušas, Barbora and Ona Mejerytės, Marius Katiliškis, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Juozas Ruzgis and others.

The Museum has two exposition halls, Zigmas Gėlė’s Room, and the Poetry Room. A collection of writer medals and ex-librises is exhibited on the first floor.

Currently, the museum is successfully run by Rita Žukauskienė. The awards ceremony of Zigmas Gėlė Prize previously held by the farm has been taken over by Šiauliai District Municipality since 1992.

Over two decades, Naisiai Museum has accumulated 7,386 exhibits, including over 4000 exhibits in the main fund of the Museum.

Dargaičiai Ethnographic Village

In ancient times when impenetrable forests would sough all round, the Dargiai family came to the swift stream Kūra. They cut down the forest on the bank, constructed buildings, and settled down. Later, other people located in the neighbourhood and as a result, the village of Dargaičiai emerged. However this is merely a beautiful legend written down by ethnographers from Šiauliai “Aušra” Museum on a visit to the village seven decades ago.

Dargaičiai Village is located in Gruzdžiai Eldership approximately 25 km away from Šiauliai. It is situated northwest along the stream Kūra flowing on the west side of the village. The first mentions of Dargaičiai Village in historical sources refer to 1620. A stone hatchet with a shaft hole and a square butt found on the site of the old village in 1970 testifies to the existence of an ancient settlement. Such hatchets date back to the very end of Neolithic age, the 15th century BC.

Villages began to build up in Lithuania in the 9th - 12th centuries whereas most street type country-sides appeared during the land measuring unit reform in the middle of the 16th century. Dargaičiai Village is one of extant street strip villages, which has retained the structural elements of the map and space attesting to the Lithuanian material culture of the given period. Homesteads are located on both sides of a comparatively straight street. The centre of the village is a densely built-up area characteristic of strip villages. The principal buildings which are endways on to the street prevail (all of the old residential buildings are angled from the street at ~ 13° according to the direction of a strip).

Rural residential architecture is distinguished for strongly archaic forms, also extant in subsequent structures dominated by traditional functional connections.

The material collected in 1940 during the regional studies expedition shows that different kinds of crafts have been prevailing in Dargaičiai since a long time ago. These include leather dressing, bast shoe weaving, leather sandal making, board cutting, wicker and root weaving, rock breaking, tiling and pottery.

Tar burning was widespread from ancient times until the First World War 1914 - 1918. Tar-makers would bring burnt tar to Kuršėnai and sell to Jews who further transported it to bigger cities.

There were 40 courtyards in Dargaičiai before the last war, of which 32 have persisted. According to statistics, in 1959 there were 142 people residing in the village, in 1992 there were 60 people remaining whereas nowadays the village has a population of only 50. Of these, more than half have reached retirement age. A few decades ago the street used to ring with a clatter of children groups leaving for and returning from school meanwhile in 1992, only eight children attended Gruzdžiai Secondary School and there are just two schoolchildren remaining now.

By 1935, children from the entire village (up to 10 pupils) were taught in Rozalija Tamašauskienė’s smoky cabin during the press ban period. The children had to stoop to enter the cabin with windows as little as “bunch of fives”.

In 1913, the priest Antanas Bandza was born in Dargaičiai. He was ordained a priest in Gruzdžiai Church. A. Bandza was buried in Gruzdžiai cemetery.

Rokas Bagdžiūnas was born on 17 August 1909. He attended a school in Gruzdžiai, later studied at Šiauliai Teachers’ Seminary. After World War II, he taught drawing and painting in Gruzdžiai. He was an erudite teacher mastering Russian, German, and Esperanto. R. Bagdžiūnas staged plays for children and adults, painted decorations and performed in the plays himself. He was buried in Ukmergė.

Dargaičiai Rural Community of Šiauliai District was established on 6 February 2003.

The Community has a goal to preserve Dargaičiai as a unique ethnic - historic village of Lithuanian wooden architecture, a “living” street type village which has already become a tourist attraction. The rural community has undertaken to revive old rituals, customs, and traditions. Traditional feasts such as St. George’s Day (the original grazing rites) and Ancient Craft Festival based on historic - ethnologic and ethnographic material of Dargaičiai Village are held.

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Photos used in this site were made by Zigmas Ripinskis
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