Places to see
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
M K Čiurlionis State Art Museum
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.
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
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
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
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:
Air Museum of Lithuania
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
THE HILL OF CROSSES
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
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.
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
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
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
1-6 July 5th
festival of experimental archaeology “Archaeology Days” Organized by
State Kernavė Archaeology and History Museum-Reservation
THE PARK OF EUROPE
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,
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
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