Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania with a population of about 350,000. Historically a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic and cultural life, the city of Kaunas served a pivotal role as the hub of Lithuania’s national rebirth throughout a succession of the country’s foreign invasions.
Conveniently set in the central part of the country between its two largest rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, Kaunas is located only an hour’s drive from the capital Vilnius and 2 hours’ drive from the country’s major seaport Klaipėda, its strategic location making it the most student-centred city in Lithuania.
Between the two World Wars, Kaunas served as the country’s provisional capital. A colourful reminiscence of this pinnacle time in the city’s history shines through the stylish Art Deco features of its downtown pedestrian artery, Laisvės Alėja. Along with an abundance of pleasant greens, rich medieval heritage of a small but remarkable Hanseatic old town, low-rise historical buildings and monuments of the country’s restored independence makes for a pleasant discovery of a cosy, walkable and laid-back city with a unique atmosphere of its own.
Kaunas Old Town
The oldest part of the city, located to the east of the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris, bears an abundance of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture spread throughout the western part of the Old Town. Among the notable buildings and facilities of the Old Town are the Kaunas Town Hall, the Kaunas Castle and the Historical Presidential Palace, the House of Perkūnas, also the Cathedral, the Church of St. Gertrude, Vytautas’ Church as well as other churches lining the perimeter of the Town Hall Square and Vilnius Street. Connecting the Old and the New Town districts of the city centre, the most beautiful cobbled Vilnius Street features 16th-18th century buildings, unique lamp posts, quirky telephone booths and a plenitude of cosy restaurants and cafes to enjoy the relaxed pace of life in this part of the
The Modernist architecture
During the short but very intense period between the two World Wars, Kaunas lived through the most important phase of its historic development. The years between 1919 and 1939 marked a time of revolutionary cultural breakthroughs in Kaunas which are particularly evident through its architecture. The city’s newly obtained status as the Lithuanian capital brought about a hasty construction boom aimed at creating all the required infrastructure of a capital city: government institutions, museums, educational institutions – a university, academies and schools, business offices, hospitals, hotels, housing and industrial premises as well as the general infrastructure such as improved water supply, sewerage and transportation system, brand new roads and recreational parks. Enriched by the multitude of ethnic communities, the architectural landscape of the multicultural Kaunas of the interwar era featured a variety of places of worship, banks, shops and schools of distinctive ethnic backgrounds, denominations and forms of religious expression.
Laisvės Alėja – Liberty Avenue
Kaunas’ most famous walking artery runs nearly a 2 km distance from the edge of the Old Town towards the orthodox-styled Church of St. Michael the Archangel. Two parallel lines of Linden trees, seating benches and flower beds stretch the entire length of the avenue, making it a pleasant shady escape on a warm summer’s day. Ample selection of shops, banks, restaurants, museums, galleries, restaurants, bars, places to stay and an abundance of university faculties and corporate offices make Laisvės Alėja a buzzing district of business, education and leisure, and a great area to explore. Make sure to notice the interwar influences on the surrounding buildings and other characteristic street features of that time. At the moment Liberty Avenue is under reconstruction therefore some inconveniences might appear during your visit there.
The recently formed partnership between the city’s authorities and its street artists has accelerated the cultivation of this form of art throughout the various urban spaces of Kaunas. Each year, the number of street art projects increases. The relationship between the public urban space and street art has become an increasingly popular discourse among the city’s population, spreading vibrantly from individual art movements through the rooms of governing officials to local communities.
Next to sporadic bursts of graffiti left behind by vandals, large-scale murals by professional artists and walls dedicated to free and legal self-expression of individual citizens are rapidly popping up around the city. Animation of public spaces is in the interest of both business subjects as well as the various steering groups. The resurgent city plays the host increasingly more often, while its residents start contributing to the improvement of their own surroundings as well. Kaunas does not compare to the revolutionary Berlin, the cultural blend of London or other known metropolises in its number of walls adorned with countless works of street art. Nevertheless, it possesses a unique spirit experienced by a more attentive resident or guest. Delighted with positive changes in our city, we invite you to become acquainted with this open gallery of street art and its ten years of history during your stay.
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