Kaunas, Lithuania's second biggest city was first mentioned in 1361 and awarded city rights in 1408. Located at the at the junction of Nemunas and Neris, the city now is an important centre of culture and economy in Lithuania.
Kaunas Castle (Papilio Str. 17)
Supposedly, the first brick castle at the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris was built in the 14th century when the attacks of Teutonic Order began. It was the first stone castle in Lithuania which played a significant role in the city's defence system. Kaunas Castle is a Gothic building with two rows of protective walls and is the only castle of this type in Lithuania.
Town Hall (Rotušės Sq.)
Often called the White Swan. The Town Hall is distinguished by its slenderness and grace. Its tower of height of 53 meters is the highest in the old city.
Arch-cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and Paul (Vilniaus Str. 1)
It is the only church in Lithuania in the Gothic style of basilica design. After several reconstructions, it also acquired Renaissance and Baroque architectural features.
Perkūnas (Thunder) House (Aleksoto Str. 6)
Perkūnas (Thunder) House is considered to be one of few buildings belonging to the gothic period still standing. It is assumed to be a merchant's residential house built in the beginning of the 16th century. A twin house on its right, which existed until the 18th century, contained the storehouses that did not remain. It is one of the most original examples of the flamboyant Gothic architecture in Lithuania. The museum of Adomas Mickevičius is established in it.
|Kaunas Town Hall, the "White Swan"|
Vytautas Church (Aleksoto Str. 3)
Kaunas' medieval monument is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Ascension, which since 1930, since the years of the anniversary of Vytautas the Great is called by the name of Vytautas. The church of Franciscans was built around 1400. It is one of the first Gothic brick buildings in Kaunas.
Vytautas the Great Bridge (Vytauto Didžiojo tiltas)
The original bridge on wooden poles was built in 1812. It was used by Napoleon's Army fleeing from Russia. There was no permanent bridge from Kaunas to Aleksotas until 1914. Aleksotas was under different laws during the rule of tsarist Russia. Kaunas was then part of the Russian Northwestern region, while Aleksotas and Užnemunė belonged to Poland, where the Napoleonic Code and even different calendars were used. Jokingly, Aleksotas Bridge was called the longest bridge in the world: the Slavic (Julian) calendar was used in the province of Kaunas, whereas Užnemunė used the Catholic (Gregorian) calendar; therefore, it took 13 days to cross the bridge (the old calendar was 13 days behind the new one). At the beginning of World War II, Aleksotas Bridge was mined on June 24, and then blasted on June 26 by the order of the 8th Army General Shlemin. During the Nazi occupation, a temporary pontoon bridge was built and used throughout the period. A temporary wooden bridge served local needs until 1948. When it was swept away by a flood, German war prisoners built the present Aleksotas Bridge.
Vilnius Street (Vilniaus gatvė)
It is the oldest street of the city. It is a part of the old medieval road to Vilnius. The majority of the buildings by this road were wooden, later the red-bricked houses of the rich citizens were built, several of which maintained untill today. The unique telephone booths are a clear indication that you are walking along the street which connects the old and the new parts of the city.
Presidential Palace (Vilniaus Str.33)
The building was constructed in 1860. In 1876, the czarist government bought it and established the residence of the governor. When Lithuanian Independence was restored and Kaunas became the provisional capital of Lithuania, this building from 1919 to 1940 was the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania. The residential premises were on the ground floor, lounge and room of a duty officer were located near portal. Two parlours for entertainments with furniture of the style of Lois XIV and small dining-room were on the first floor on portal side. The presidents of Lithuania A. Smetona, K. Grinius and A. Stulginskis used to live and work in this palace.
Laisvės (Freedom) Avenue
This 1.7 km-long street was built in the 19th century. Already from the end of the 19th century, it became an administrational, commercial and cultural centre of the city. Banks, various offices, restaurants, cafes, and many modern shops are situated in this street. Laisvės Avenue, connecting the new and old parts of the city, is a pedestrian street. Two lines of trees planted in the middle of the avenue created a recreation and walking area. It is one of the most favorite places of Kaunas citizens.
Musical Theatre (Laisvės Av. 91)
Originally the State Theatre, it was built in 1892. Now, operas and operettas make up the largest part of the repertoire, with ballets and plays for children also staged here.
The garden of the city (Laisvės Av. 91)
Situated in front of the Musical Theatre. A fragment of the city wall with a tower next to the Theatre building reminds of the fact that this was the site of the city border in the 16th century. The garden of the city is decorated with the busts of Lithuanian composers, art characters and singers. The monument for Romas Kalanta is located in the garden near Laisvės Avenue, who burnt himself in this place in 1972 when protesting against the Soviet occupation.