Historians discovered the first mention of Kaunas in written sources in 1361. The city was then called Kovno and played an important role in the economy of the Baltic region, having been a member of the Hanseatic League since the mid-15th century. Kaunas was also famous for its large river port. During its existence, the city managed to visit as the provincial center and the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. In the list of Kaunas attractions you will find castles and churches, churches and monasteries, fortresses and a botanical garden. When planning the excursion route and deciding what to see in Kaunas, do not forget about the city museums. One of the most memorable expositions is offered by the Ethnographic Museum on the banks of the Kaunas Reservoir.
The construction of this defensive structure dates back to the 13th century, when the inhabitants of the city had to hold defenses against the knights of the Teutonic Order advancing on the Principality of Lithuania. The castle is mentioned in the annals of 1361, but a few months after its writing, the fortress nevertheless fell under the onslaught of German knights.
A century later, the destroyed castle was restored by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas. Then a bastion was attached to the round tower of the citadel.
The fortress fell into decay in the 17th century. and today restored only partially. Of all the buildings, a round tower is open for tourists to visit, but you can walk freely around the territory.
The system of fortifications built in Kaunas in 1879-1915 was intended to repel enemy attacks on the western borders of the Russian Empire. It received the name Kovno Fortress, since the city was then called Kovno.
The idea of building a fortress arose especially sharply after the war of 1812, during which Napoleon’s army crossed without interference into Kovno through the Neman. Then, a railway line from St. Petersburg to Warsaw passed through the city, and a decision on the need for a fortress was made.
The complex received all the facilities and fortifications necessary for the first class fortress. The first seven forts have a similar construction, while later forts were built according to the latest designs. In 1908, work was done to strengthen the very first buildings, the fortress expanded and strong points appeared at a distance of several kilometers from the old towers.
During the First World War, the Coven Fortress surrendered to the Germans after ten days of defense. The reason was a mistake in personnel policy. During the Great Patriotic War, the Germans who occupied Lithuania used the fortress for mass executions of Jews.
Today, a museum is opened in the IX fortress of the fortress, and the entire complex is a unique monument and an example of fortification architecture of the turn of the XIX-XX centuries.
Church and Monastery of St. George
A beautiful monument of architecture in the Gothic style appeared in Kaunas at the beginning of the 16th century. It was built instead of an earlier temple, which in 1463 the Bernardine monks built of pine logs. In 1471, the Grodno mayor Sandzivoevich wrote off a large piece of land to the order, and the monks proceeded to erect a capital church. Officially, the work was completed in 1504. The monastery became the final link in the architectural ensemble in the historical center of Kaunas at the confluence of the Nemunas and Nyaris rivers.
Although the church was repeatedly destroyed in fires and wars, the inhabitants of Kaunas managed to preserve the whole appearance of the temple, rich in Gothic details. Lancet windows with arched motifs and multi-stage buttresses deserve special attention.
In the interior, it is worthwhile to carefully consider the baroque wooden altars with massive pylons and skillful carvings, the podium of the organ and paintings of the XVII century.
Church of the Holy Trinity
In the years 1624-1634. and on the orders of the Minsk governor Alexander Massalsky, a church in honor of the Holy Trinity was built at the Bernardine monastery. After only a few years, the temple was badly damaged in a fire and was restored only in 1668.
The church was built in full accordance with the requirements of the late Renaissance style, however, an attentive researcher can easily notice in its architectural appearance Gothic elements. But the magnificent interior of the church is more like luxurious buildings in the Rococo style. All nine of its altars are generously decorated with wood carvings and sculptural compositions.
In 1899, a large-scale reconstruction was carried out in the church, and since then its appearance has remained unchanged. Today, Trinity Church is part of the Kaunas Catholic Seminary complex. Its building was erected in the first third of the twentieth century. at the place of the Bernardine cemetery.
Everyone who came to the city for the first time comes to the main church of Kaunas. The Basilica of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is called the most beautiful temple in Lithuania, in which you can see the features of several architectural directions - the Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, and Baroque.
The church was completed in 1624. Earlier on this site stood a temple dated to the beginning of the 15th century. The Archcathedral of Peter and Paul is the only Lithuanian Gothic church built as a basilica. Inside you will find nine altars, and the author of the main one is the sculptor Podgaysky. Particular attention of visitors is also attracted by the sacristy of the church, whose arches are made of crystal.
In the crypt of the Peter and Paul temple and in the mausoleums attached to the church, there are burials of famous people in Lithuania: bishop and writer M. Valančius, prelate Maciulis-Maironis and the first cardinal of Lithuania V. Sladkevičius.
Church of Kaunas Garrison
Another temple of very impressive size was built in Kaunas at the very end of the XIX century. It was intended for the needs of parishioners who served in the Kaunas garrison and were former Orthodox.
The building design was developed by military engineer Konstantin Limarenko. Under his leadership, construction work was going on, and the temple was made in the Neo-Byzantine style. The project was prepared and implemented very thoroughly:
- The foundation of the temple is laid to a depth of more than 4 m.
- The wall thickness is almost one and a half meters.
- The bell tower is reinforced with reinforced concrete structures, and the diameter of the dome is 16 m.
The cathedral was consecrated in 1895 in honor of Saints Peter and Paul and assigned it the status of a cathedral. During the First World War, the Germans who occupied the city converted the church into a Lutheran church. In 1919 the temple was transferred to the Kaunas military garrison and received the name of St. Michael the Archangel.
The cathedral is famous for the fact that the 30s. XX century it hosted concerts of organ music and even famous opera soloists performed.
In 1962, the church served the needs of the Art Museum and it exhibited a collection of stained glass and sculpture.
Kaunas Town Hall
In the heart of the Old Town in the main square you will see the Town Hall building adorning Kaunas from the 16th century. Its construction began in 1542, and initially the Town Hall was a one-story building. Then they completed the second floor to the main building and added a tower. A prison was organized in the basement, but all the other premises of the Town Hall were used for much more pleasant occasions. It traded, stored archival documents, issued decrees, stored goods and registered various acts of civil status.
Over the years, the Kaunas Town Hall housed the fire department and the municipality, the ammunition depot and archive, the technical institute, and even the ceramics museum.
Today, an elegant white baroque building with classic features is called the White Swan. Wedding ceremonies, meetings of official delegations and important agreements are held at the Town Hall.
House of Perkunas
In the old part of the city you will see many unique and memorable buildings, but the House of Perkunas is a sight that no one can pass by indifferently.
The building was built by Hanseatic merchants in the XV century. and served as their office for almost a hundred years. Then in 1643 the Jesuits, who bought the house, opened a chapel in it and used the House of Perkunas as a prayer house. In the XIX century, the building was restored, partly rebuilt and a school was opened in it, and then a theater, in which Adam Mickiewicz liked to attend shows. Actually, then the mansion gets the name House of Perkunas, which is caused by the image of the eponymous pagan god discovered during repair on one of the walls, who was responsible for the thunder and sky among the Baltic peoples.
Today, the museum of the poet Miscavige is open in the building, and the mansion is listed in the Cultural Heritage Register of the country.
Kaunas Botanical Garden
In the southern part of the city on the territory of the ancient estate of Upper Freda you will find the Botanical Garden, founded in the 20s of the last century and today belongs to the University of Vytautas the Great.
The collection of the Botanical Garden of Kaunas has a huge number of plants belonging to 8800 groups. Here are the largest greenhouses in the country with rare and tropical representatives of the plant world, among which there are many exotic ones. A hundred-year-old park with ponds where swans and ducks swim, and bridges connecting the banks of water bodies are carefully preserved in the garden.
In the spring, on the territory of the Botanical Garden of Kaunas, you can look at a collection of flowering tulips, numbering several hundred varieties.
The name of the founder of professional Lithuanian music, composer and artist Mikolaus Churlionis is the National Art Museum of Kaunas. It is the oldest in the country: the first visitors crossed the exposure threshold in 1921. Now the collection is housed in a dozen branches and divisions, but the main building is located in Kaunas at the address: ul. Putvinskyo 55. In it you will see a collection of exhibits dedicated to the activities of юрiurlionis and his legacy. The museum often hosts exhibitions on a variety of topics, exhibiting collections of foreign museums and art galleries.
Another popular branch of the museum among tourists is the Kaunas Art Gallery. It is located in the building at: st. Donelayce, 16. The gallery displays works by Lithuanian artists living in the country and abroad. The most famous authors whose paintings are exhibited in the gallery are Yu. Machiunas, T. Site and A. Mishkinis, known for his icon-painting works.