Kaunas

Kaunas

My favorite part of Kaunas is the downtown. It is situated at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers – the Nemunas and the Neris. The Nemunas River, still used for navigation today, has historically contributed to the development of the city.
I love the downtown because of the long, green tree-lined in summer, pedestrian Laisvės Avenue, which is one of the major attractions for shopping, cafes and restaurants. It’s still pleasant to shuffle in and out of shops in winter buut you may find that gusts of wind in the wide pedestrian zone will filter you through. And I also love the downtown because of the Old Town, which is packed with delightful sights and is a place for a meandering stroll. Don’t be afraid to poke around in the many courtyards, which are often full of neat surprises.
Kaunas’ Old Town covers some 106 ha. Dominated by Gothic and Renaissance-style structures with a cluster of 16th century merchant houses around the Toown Hall, Old Town is the pride and joy of most Kaunas residents. Of particular note is the pedestrian Vilniaus Street, a 13th century highway linking Kaunas to Vilnius, which has since been extensively renovated with specially cut cobblestones and pa

aving slabs. Even the telephone booths and street lamps have been designed to blend in with the original architecture.
Here are many spectacular and marvelous monuments of architecture, like the Kaunas Castle, which is on the edge of the Old town and was built in the 13th century. The Castle was Lithuania’s first defensive bastion and the only double-walled castle in all of Lithuania. By 1368 a second, stronger castle had been constructed, as the first was destroyed by crusaders. The second castle originally had four towers, but over the centuries the River Neris has washed them away, forcing the Northern walls to collapse.
Built in 1408, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is near the Town Hall, is interesting simply because itt is the only Gothic church of basilicas design in the whole Lithuania. Later construction works added some forms of Renaissance and Baroque styles to this architectural masterpiece. The Cathedral now has nine altars. The tomb of priest and writer Maironis is in the south wall and the famous Lithuanian bishop Motiejus Valančius is buried in the cathedral’s crypt.
Kaunas’ 53-meter-high white Town Hall towers above the ancient heart of Kaunas – The Town Hall Square. The Town Hall is late Ba
aroque in style, and under the tsarist regime it was transformed into a Russian Orthodox Church and it even served as the provisional residence of the Tsar in 1837. Reconstructed in the early 1970’s, it’s now a Soviet-style “wedding palace”.
A fun Sunday morning amusement is to watch the wedding-mill at the Town Hall. At any time of year, you can expect the “wedding-show” to start at about 11h and to end at about 2 p.m. with a parade of 20 to 50 couples. Many of these couples will go on to a church or the neighboring Cathedral to exchange their vows in a religious setting. You will see crowds of people standing outside, with gifts and flowers eagerly waiting to greet the newly-weds. Some hold champagne bottles ready to explode, others wait anxiously clutching video cameras or standing guard at the typical white Mercedes. All the sight is each time new, exciting and remarkable. As remarkable and surprising as the whole downtown of Kaunas is.

Leave a Comment