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Places to see in Kaunas: 

Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania, which has always been striving to be a leader. For years Kaunas has been a major centre of the nation’s spiritual resistance and struggle for national identity. For twenty years Kaunas was a provisional capital.
Kaunas has 9 schools of higher education (together with their branches), 20 research institutes and establishments. Cultural life of the city is led by 26 libraries, 7 professional theatres, 10 amateur theatres, 20 folk ensembles and a great variety of other art groups. Kaunas is famous for sportsmen.
Kaunas is an important transport centre with two intersecting transport axes. One of them connects Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the countries lying to the south. This is Via Baltica road. The other comes from the East and goes as far as Klaipeda city. www.kaunas.lt 



 



Kaunas Castle The 13th century castle  was the country`s first defensive bastion and         the only double-walled castle in Lithuania. The surrounding walls were initially over  two metres wide and 13 metres high. In  1362, after a siege, the crusaders destroyed it. By 1368 a second, stronger castle had been constructed, of which some still  remains today


Old Town  Covering a total of 106 hectares or thereabouts, and dominated by a majestic, often crumbling mix of Gothic and Renaissance-style structures with a cluster of 16th century merchant houses around the town hall, Old Town is not to be missed. The main street, Vilniaus, was in its day way back in the 13th century, a highway linking the city with Vilnius.
 


Perkūnas House 
Built in a similar style to St. Anne's church in Vilnius, this is one of the most original examples of late Gothic architecture in Lithuania. Built during the final days of the 15th century, the rich architecture symbolised the economic power of the Hanseatic League and German expansion. Today, it plays host to regular art classes.


Town Hall  
Begun in 1542, and mostly late baroque in style, with certain elements of early Classicism and Gothic architecture. The building is now notable as being a Soviet-style wedding palace.
Town Square (Rotušės aikštė) Originally the centre of economic life, the foundation stone was laid on July 28, 1542. The large square now serves as a popular meeting and greeting place during the hot summer months. 

Kaunas churches http://www.kaunas.lt/english/foto/baznycios/index.shtml
Christ's Resurrection Church  Construction began some70 years ago, and thanks to Soviet ideology, there`s still some way to go before it'll be finished. The huge white building on Žaliakalnis (Green Hill) has played host to a paper warehouse under the Nazis and a radio factory under the Communists. Now safely back in the hands of God`s representatives on earth, lack of funds stops the project from being completed.
St. Francis Church & Jesuit Monastery Building began in 1666, but fire has taken its toll over the centuries. Like many churches in Lithuania this one has changed hands many times, and was restored to its original owners once again in 1990.
St. Michael the Archangel  Known in the vernacular as soboras (after the Russian sobor, or cathedral), since that`s what this blue building looks most like. Built towards the end of he 19th century by Russian architects, the neo-Byzantine, symmetrical building can be found at the eastern end of Laisvės alėja. Come here on Saturdays, where it forms a wonderful backdrop for a never-ending parade of weddings.
Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral 
Dating from 1408, and interesting for the fact that it's the only Gothic church of basilican design in Lithuania. Later building work included the addition of Renaissance and Baroque styles. It became a cathedral in 1895, and was elevated to the rank of basilica in 1921, shortly after Kaunas' inauguration as the country's temporary capital.
Vytautas Church Built at the beginning of the 15th century, the church is Gothic in style, and has served many purposes over the years. The famous Lithuanian writer Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas is buried here.
 


Museums
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M K Čiurlionis State Art Museum http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaunas/ciurlionio_muziejus.en.htm Painter, composer, mystic and depressive, are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe the nation`s artistic hero. During his short lifetime, Čiurlionis (1875-1911) churned out the first Lithuanian symphony (In The Forest), painted prolifically and even found time to get married and have a daughter. Many claim that Čiurlionis was the inventor of abstract art, not as the history books dictate the Russian Kandinsky. What is clear is that the man was a genius. Come here and find out for yourself.

Kaunas Ceramics Museum
 
http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaunas/keramikos_muziejus.en.htm
Not for the frail this one as it's hidden away at the bottom of a flight of challenging stairs in the basement of the Town Hall (Rotušė). Still, if you're brave enough to try it, it's well worth the trip. It's not large by anyone's standards, but it does house a wide range of ceramics from pottery found during archaeological digs dating back to the 16th century to some exquisite hand-painted tiles to the very latest in what today's artisans are getting up to with a bag of clay and an unfettered imagination.

Devil Museum
http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaunas/velniu_muziejus.en.htm
Over 2,000 devils from around the world, collected by the late, all-round eccentric Antanas Žmuidzinavičius (1876-1966). Wood carvings, soft toys, lots of references to music and alcohol, and much more besides. Of particular interest are the Hitler and Stalin devils, doing the dance of death over a helpless Lithuania. Dating from Soviet times, Stalin wasn't in fact depicted as a devil, he just happens to look that way. Essential visiting this one.
 


Mykolas Žilinskas Art Museum
http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaunas/zilinsko_galerija.en.htm

A wide range of styles and origins dating back several hundred years, but most notable as being the home of the only Rubens in Lithuania.
 
Museum of the History of Lithuania Medicine and Pharmacy.
http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaunas/medicin_farmac_muziejus.en.htm
 
In the middle of Kaunas Old Town, in the neighbourhood of the Town Hall, one should not miss the Museum of the History of Lithuania Medicine and Pharmacy.
The premises themselves, i. e. a restored building dating back to the 16th century are worth attention; it enables one to imagine a house which once has belonged to a rich merchant and to feel the romantic atmosphere full of magic secretness.


Sightseeing out of Kaunas town:

Rumšiškės Open Air Museum of Lithuania http://www.muziejai.lt/Kaisiadorys/Open-Air_muziejus.en.htm

Covering a total of 176 hectares, find a collection of old houses, farms, schools, pubs and mills representing the major regions of the country, complete with the flora specific to these regions. This is the adventure of a lifetime indeed. As well as the architectural splendour, this is also a living museum, featuring men and women in traditional costume, baking bread and making pots the old way. There's even a complete village in there somewhere.Getting there: Buses leave

from Kaunas bus station, some going straight to the museum. Alternatively take any Vilnius-bound bus, get off at the Rumšiškės stop, and walk the final 2km. To get there by car, simply point your machine towards Vilnius and keep driving until you see the signs for the museum. The museum is extremely well signposted.

RAUDONDVARISThe place was known as a residence of nobles since the 16th-century. Then it was refered to as Auktasis Dvaras (the Higher Estate), whereas Auktasis Raudondvaris was mentioned in the 17th century.In the late 19th-early 20th centuries Raudondvaris was the centre of a rural district.

The architectural ensemble of Raudondvaris Estate is still there, standing on the upper terrace of the Nevezis River Valley. It is most likely that the estate manor was built by Vaitiekus Dziavaltauskas, an official of Kaunas, in the early-17th century. Count Mykolas Tiskevicius (1761-1839) was the first representative of the Tiskevicius family to have become the owner of Raudondvaris in 1819. The reconstruction left some traces of Neo-gothic style on the manor house.
There was an art gallery and a library with a rich collection of antiquities and rare works by West European and Lithuanian painters. After the estate was nationalised in 1940, the Women Care Committee founded an orphanage in the estate. At the end of World War II, Raudondvaris manor and hothouse were burned down. The manor was rebuilt in 1962-1967
 
 

ZAPYSKIS. The Zapyskis Estate was set up on the first half of the 16th century. It was owned by the Sapiega family, thus carrying the name of Sapiegiskis for some time; later on, it was renamed Zapyskis. The small town of Zapyskis was mentioned in the late 16th century. On the second half of the 16th century, P. Sapiega initiated and funded building of a church. (It was repaired and

Zapyskis St. John the Baptist’s Church
reconstructed in 1677, 1744, 1763, after the 1812 War and after the 1846 Flood. Sermons have not been held since the early 20th century). A parish school functioned in the 17th century. The town was devastated during the wars in the mid-17th and early-18th centuries. Annexed to Prussia in 1795, Zapyskis was incorporated into Russia in 1815. Trade livened up (markets and fairs were organised). In 1825-1847, Zapyskis had the urban rights. The flood in 1846 caused much damage to the town, as did the 1957 fire and WWI. In 1919-1950, Zapyskis was the centre of a rural district. Inhabitants of Zapyskis were engaged in agriculture, fishing, and small crafts. These days, in summer Pazaislis Music Festival concerts take place in Zapyskis St. John the Baptist Church, and various cultural events are held on Vytautas Magnus Coronation Day.
 


LITHUANIA
www.travel-lithuania.com

The
Capital City
 

Vilnius is the largest Lithuanian city in terms of territory and the number of inhabitants. It has been the capital for centuries. The main governing authorities such as the Seimas (parliament), the Government, the President, the country’s largest banks, most diplomatic representations of foreign countries, and significant educational and art institutions are all in Vilnius.

Just like all medieval cities, Vilnius was built around the Town Hall. The main street – Pilies – joined the Governor’s Palace and the Town Hall. Other streets led to the houses of nobles and feudalists and craftsmen workshops. The narrow winding streets and small cozy courtyards constituted the radial plan of a medieval city. The main tourist routs start from the Cathedral Square, turn to Pilies Street and lead to Aušros Vartai (the Gates of Dawn).

The capital city was first mentioned in written documents in the 13th century. It grew continuously the next several centuries as political, economic, and social life developed, exemplified by statutes from the 16th -19th centuries.

A university was founded in 1579, the first in the Duchy of Lithuania. It soon became an important scientific and cultural centre in Europe. The Vilnius Old City is one of the largest in Eastern Europe at 360 ha. and contains an abundant heritage of valuable historic and cultural monuments. Vilnius was included in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

CATHEDRAL
Perkūnas Temple and an eternal fire are believed to have been in the place of the Cathedral in pagan times.
Mindaugas, the first Christian and King of Lithuania, built there the first Christian church eight centuries ago. Burned down and rebuilt many times, the church still remains today. After the last reconstruction it became a magnificent Classical building.




 

The main façade is decorated with a tall portico and six Doric columns. The pediment shows the scene of Noah’s sacrifice.The interior of the Cathedral is also very rich, there are more than forty 16th to 19th century artworks such as frescos, small and large paintings.
In the basement there is a museum dedicated to the history of the building from the days of the pagan Temple to the present day. During the Cathedral reconstruction works the original floor laid in the times of Mindaugas was found. Moreover, archaeologists found the remains of the 1387 Cathedral, the altars of the pagan Temple and other items of archaeological interest. One of the walls contains a 14th century fresco which is the oldest of all known frescos in Lithuania.


CATHEDRAL SQUARE
The Cathedral Square belfry is the most popular place to meet in Vilnius. It is here that you see the various kinds of Vilnius people – students, civil servants, bank clerks, street musicians, sellers, punks, skateboarders and the homeless. The main city streets “meet” in the Cathedral Square. Here, you can see fairs, performances, New Year fireworks and even exhibitions.


The Museum of the Higher Castle (Gediminas Castle)
The red brick castle tower remained of the Higher Palace built in 13th to 15th centuries. Today there is a museum where you can see the models of the former castle ensemble, armours, swords and ancient coins. Gediminas’ Tower is the all-time symbol of Vilnius.

All armies of the occupying nations would try to put their flags at the top of the Tower. Today the flag of Lithuania can be seen there.
A great panorama of the city can be observed from the hill. There is an observation spot at the top of Gediminas’ Tower.
There was a settlement on this hill already in the first millennium BC. In 10-13th centuries there was a wooden castle. 14-15th centuries saw the construction of a stone castle. It was called the Upper Castle and had three towers, a defense wall, a three-story palace and other buildings. Gediminas’ Tower is the only tower of the Upper Castle that has remained until the present day. The Tower once had four levels, until now only three have been reconstructed.
 

Places to visit in Lithuania:

THE HILL OF CROSSESspacer
The Hill of Crosses is one of the most impressive places in Lithuania. There are tens of thousands of crosses put by people. The crosses do not fit in the Hill anymore. Nothing is known about the reasons for choosing this place to put crosses.

The first cross is believed to have been put by an unhappy father. Staying by the bed of his dying beloved daughter, he saw a dream about a woman wearing light clothes. She told him to make a cross and bring it to the hill by Meškuičių village. It took the father thirteen hours to take the heavy cross to the hill but when he came home he was greeted by his daughter that had been healed.

After the event people started to bring crosses to the hill.
During the Soviet period, the Hill of Crosses gained a special significance. It became a place of anonymous yet consistent fight against the regime. The authorities destroyed the metal crosses, burned the wooden, broke those made of stone and threw them into the river. They flattened the Hill with bulldozers and even wanted to flood it; rabies and pig black death epidemic was announced to ban people from visiting the site. But people brought crosses at night.
After the restoration of independence the Hill of Crosses became the symbol of the nation’s belief, hardships and hope.
 

GRŪTO PARK
www.travel-lithuania.com/grutas/welcome.htm


The establishment of this Museum was long debated and even protested. Some of the Lithuanian patriots objected strongly to the exhibition of Soviet sculptures and other ideological relics. The collection of the Museum consists of sculptures and bas-reliefs of the Soviet era the “heroes.”
 They are symbols of the cruelty and absurdity of the Soviet regime and show the manipulations performed with historical facts. In the Soviet days, the Museum items used to be erected in many Lithuanian cities. These are the statues of V.Lenin, J.Stalin, Zigmas Angarietis, V.Kapsukas, F.Dzerzhinsky and others, as well as monuments to the members of the Youth Communist League and the Soviet Army. The order in which the monuments are lined is based on the fact that all of these people took greater or smaller part in the organization and implementation of terror, and in the annihilation of the sovereignty of Lithuania.
 
Kernavė State Culture Reservation  spacerwww.travel-lithuania.com/kernave  
The name of Kernavė was first mentioned in the rhymed 1279 Livonia and Hermann Warburg chronicles as the land of Traidenis, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. In those days the settlement was one of the major economic centers of the country. Five mounds with defence constructions constituted a unified defence system. Nearby a wooden town of merchants and handicraftsmen grew in 13th and 14th centuries. The castles and the town were destroyed after the 1390
The first archaeological explorations in Kernavė started in the mid 19th century. Today all the exhibits are stored in Kernavė State Culture Reservation. The Reservation is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Reservation occupies a territory of 194.4 ha. The most valuable archaeological exhibits can be viewed at the Archaeology and History Museum.

1-6 July 5th festival of experimental archaeology “Archaeology Days” Organized by State Kernavė Archaeology and History Museum-Reservation
 

THE PARK OF EUROPEspacer  http://www.europosparkas.lt/
The Park was established in 1991 on the initiative of a young sculptor Gintaras Karosas. The objective of the Park is to describe the geographical center of the European continent in the language of art. In the territory of 55 ha in the open air there is an exhibition of statues by sculptors from more than seventy countries, including famous modern artists such as S.LeWitt, M.Abakanowicz, D.Oppenheim.

The sculpture by Gintaras Karosas made from old TV sets was recognized by LNK Infomedis as the largest creation of this kind in the world. This was officially confirmed by the record agency Guinness World Records. The sculpture-labyrinth takes up the territory of 3,135 square meters. In the center you will see a lying statue of Lenin brought from Jurbarkas.
The idea of the sculpture is to show the meaninglessness of Soviet ideology promoted for more that half a century by means of the TV “boxes”.
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