About Kaunas City

With Kaunas being temporary capital in the period between 1919 and 1939, a large part of Lithuanian intelligentsia, political and economic elite concentrated in the city and created the image of Kaunas as a cradle of culture which survived to this day.

Kaunas has been developing for many centuries and experienced many ups and downs. The city and its castle were first mentioned in historical chronicles in 1361 by Arabian geographer Alldris Kaunas was a medieval trading centre and its Castle served as an important stronghold against the attack of the Crusaders. In 1408 under the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great the city was awarded the Magdeburg rights acquiring the status of municipal autonomy. Continuous wars with neighbouring countries ended in the final division of the Lithuanian-Polish state in favour of Russia, Prussia and Austria and in 1795 Kaunas and the largest part of Lithuania were subordinated to the Russian Empire for more than one century.

For twenty years between the two world wars Kaunas was the capital of a short-lived Republic of Lithuania, which can be considered the Gold Age of the city. During the Soviet occupation followed after the Second World War Kaunas became the symbol of Lithuania’s’ statehood.

The centre of Kaunas is divided into the Old and the New Town. The Old Town is a remarkable archaeological monument and an architectural masterpiece incorporating Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. It is a concentration of the ancient architectural monuments, such as the remnants of the 13th century castle, the impressive Town Hall, popularly known as the White Swan, and the Vilnius street, a characteristic trade street of the Middle Ages. The New Town is represented by the Laisves Aleja, a central pedestrian street often called the „Heart of Kaunas“ where numerous hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars are located. Kaunas is famous for M. K. Ciurlionis Art Gallery, where you can find the unique collection of works painted by the famous Lithuanian painter and composer M. K. Ciurlionis.

Kaunas has old traditions of annual events – such as Kaunas Jazz Festival, Hanza Kaunas, Pažaislis Music Festival, the Bike Show Millennium, International Modern Dance Festival, Operetta at Kaunas Castle, etc.

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