Telšiai (pop. 30.5 thousand) is the capital of the Žemaitija (Samogitia) ethnographic region. The city has grown on seven hills by Lake Mastis. The first mention of Telšiai in the historical sources appeared in 1450. At the end of the 18th century the town was granted the Magdeburg rights and shortly afterward became the cultural and political centre of Žemaitija.
Over the interwar years of independence Telšiai was rapidly growing–several girls’ and boys’ high schools, a crafts school and a teacher’s seminary were founded, Alka museum was built, and several cultural societies were operating.
The beautiful Old Town of Telšiai represents an urban monument. The town boasts a church in the late Baroque-Classicism style of the 18th century (Telšiai Cathedral since 1926) standing on the highest hill of the town. The original side altars and the pulpit of local master J. Mažeika make this house of prayer different from other Lithuanian churches. The Bishopric Mansion-house, Priests’ Seminary and Bernardine Monastery have settled in Telšiai; the Žemaičių Kalvarija (Calvary of Samogitia) feast attracts crowds of people.
The Samogitian Alka Museum acquaints its visitors with the history of the region. The Open-air Museum of Samogitian Village situated by Lake Mastis reflects the Samogitians’ mode of life in late 19th-early 20th centuries. The Žemaičiai (Samogitian) Art Museum boasts a unique collection of sculptures of God made by local artists. A military museum is established in the former Soviet secret base of thermonuclear missiles.
The county enjoys an active cultural life with a number of festivals, festivities and other events, including Cha-cha-cha comedy festival and "Aš pasiejau vėina popa" children’s folklore festival in Telšiai; Wind Orchestra Festival and "Saulelė raudona" folk festival in Plungė; and the Brass Band, Town, Song and Dance, and Crafts festivals in Mažeikiai. An especially popular event is Blues Nights festival by the Lake Lūkstas. A number of amateur art companies, including theatre, song and dance, folk ensembles, contribute to the cultural life of the county.