Places to visit
The Town Hall square
Kaunas defence wall
Kaunas fortress (XIX century)
Kaunas modernism architecture
Kaunas officers' house
Kaunas Botanical garden
Kaunas panorama view
Following tracks of Napoleon
Kaunas railway tunnel
Evidences of settlements of the 9th-10th centuries were found in the area of the current city. The settlements from the middle of the 1st century that were found in the area of the Old Town of Kaunas mark the beginning of the current city. The central area was the one where Kaunas castle was later built.
Kaunas is first mentioned in 1361 in the German Chronicles, though remains of an ancient settlement of the 10th-12th centuries were found in Kaunas
Kaunas castle was built in the second half of the 13th century.
Kaunas was granted Magdeburg rights in 1408.
Gillibert de Lanua
travelled through Kaunas in 1413-1414. According to him Kaunas is "a big town on the banks of the Nemunas River surrounded with walls".
There were only wooden buildings in the city in the 15th century (except the castle and the churches) .
The year 1422 marks the beginning of Kaunas development. Many years it had big river port connecting Kaunas with some European ports and making export import from/to Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Since 1441 the town had its representative of the
. The main office operated in the
House of Perkūnas
from 1441 till 1532.
Lithuanians made up the largest part of the town’s population The town was also populated by Germans and Tartars from the beginning of 15th century.
The total population of the town in the middle of the 16th century was approx. 7000 people .
The St. Michael church was built at the end of 15th century.
The St. George church and the Bernardine church and monastery were built at the end of the 15th century.
Some of the town’s buildings were destroyed during the Great fire in 1537.
Construction of the Town Hall began in 1542.
Trade and culture prospered and in the first small manufactories were opened the middle of the 16th century.
, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, welcomed John III, the duke of Finland (the later King of Sweden) in Kaunas in 1562.
Some buildings of the town were destroyed during the Great fire of 1590. Paper mill was opened in 1590.
At the end of the 16th century Kaunas was one of the most advanced towns of the Great Duchy of Lithuania and a big trade centre.
The end of the 16th century marks the beginning of expansion of Kaunas area to the other bank of the Nemunas River.
Plague outbreak occurred in Kaunas at the end of the 16th century.
A great part of the town was destroyed during the Great fires of 1603 and 1624.
Two ferries operated between the Old town and the suburb Aleksotas and between the Old town and the other bank of the Neris River at the end of 16th century.
The first half of the 17th century marks the days of prosperity of Kaunas. Kaunas was a town of rich manufacturers and merchants. New storehouses were built on the banks of the Nemunas River and the Neris River. Four factories, Dutch, Swedish, Prussian and English, operated in the town.
Jesuit collegium was founded in 1648. The total population of Kaunas was approx. 15 000 people.
Trade and culture prospered and small manufactories were opened in the middle of the 17th century.
A great part of the town’s buildings were destroyed during the Great fire before 1655 .
Kaunas was occupied on 8 August 1655 by enemy forces as a consequence of the war between Russia and the Great Duchy of Lithuania. The town was ruined, plundered, devastated by plague.
The Russian army abandoned Kaunas on the 28th of April, 1661.
A small village that was owned by Jonušas Radivilas, Lithuanian nobleman, was established in 1663 in the current area of Vilijampolė, one of the elderships of Kaunas .
Kaunas (Cavm in map) and Lithuania mentioned in old
The first Jews moved to Vilijampolė in 1682 as this place was a restricted area for Jews to settle in Kaunas.
The total population of Kaunas in 1667-1673 was approx. 4000 people.
Magdeburg rights were renewed and expanded in 1665-1676.
40 river ships were used in the 17th century by Kaunas traders to carry goods.
A town wall was built in the the second half of the 17th century to counter enemy attacks.
The Dominican church was built in 1678.
The Evangelical Lutheran church was built in 1682.
The Jesuit Order began building the church and the monastery in 1668.
Kaunas was destroyed during the Russo-Swedish War (1701-1707). The Swedish army entered Kaunas on 24 December 1701 and stayed here for 3 months.
Kaunas was affected by plague and starvation in 1708.
A great part of the town was ruined during the Great flood in 1715.
Works of rebuilding of the town began after the war.
A great part of the town was destroyed during the Great fire in 1732 .
the Imperial Russian Army marched through Kaunas in 1750 (Russian-Prussian war).
Sirutis palace in baroque style, where
Literature museum operates in nowadays, was built in Kaunas in the middle of the 18th century.
The Town Hall was reconstructed in 1771-1781.
21 ship from Kaunas river port navigated between Kaunas and Königsberg (Prussia). There were 357 houses, 5 drug stories and 150 traders in Kaunas in 1794.
In 1795 Kaunas became a part of the Russian Empire (the Great Duchy of Lithuania was occupied by Prussia and Russia). Kaunas became a border city because the other bank of the Nemunas River was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia. The bridge connecting the opposite banks of the Nemunas River was named "the longest bridge in the world" because the Kingdom of Prussia and the Russian Empire used different calendars (with a difference of 13 days). Those who were crossing the bridge could "jump" 13 days forward or back in time.
One third of Kaunas was destroyed during the Great fire of 1800.
Russian-French war 1812. The Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the French army had crossed the Nemunas River near Kaunas. Kaunas was partially destroyed during the French rule. After half a year Kaunas was returned to the Russian Empire.
Lithuanian rebels fought against the forces of the Russian army in Kaunas (uprising against the Russian rule in 1831). As a consequence of the fights all bridges and ships were burnt. Kaunas was temporarily taken over by the rebels, but ultimately the uprising was brutally repressed.
In 1843 Kaunas became a center of the newly established Kaunas governorate with the total population of 830 000. Kaunas had 14 297 inhabitants at this time.
Steamships started to be used from 1854 in Kaunas ship port by a prominent noble family of
. The total of 11 ships was used during the period 1853-1856 , and only two ships Keistutis and Neris were left after this period.
The railway was built in 1862.
Kaunas had a population of 31 300 in 1869.
A firefighters team started its work in 1883.
A horse tram as a public transport was operated since 1892.
Kaunas City Theatre was opened in 1892 and the first city museum started its operation in 1897.
Kaunas became a fortress town of the Russian army in 1879. Later a defense system was built around Kaunas.
A progress of industry took place at the time. In 1897 the total population of Kaunas e was approx. 86 000 people .
The Jewish community consisted of approx. 37 000 people at the beginning of the 20th century. Jews had a quite strong influence on Kaunas life until the World War II. For more information about Jews in Kaunas,
(in Lithuanian, use Google Translator).
A system of electric street lights was installed in 1900. A total of 75 electric lamps was used at the beginning. The rest were kerosene lamps. The urban lighting system was operated during all night time.
Shipping, both passenger and cargo, was very active at the end of the 19th century – the beginning of the 20th century. 8 steamships, both passenger and cargo, served at the beginning of the 20th century. The total of 180 000 passengers and 291 000 tons of cargo were transported by steamships in 1902.
Kaunas was occupied by the German army in 1915 during the World War I.
in Kaunas, one of the oldest airports in Europe, was opened in 1915. It was used for military purposes at the beginning.
Kaunas became the temporary capital of Lithuania in 1919 after Lithuania regained its Independence (Vilnius was annexed by Poland).
The first radio station began its operation in Lithuania in 1919.
Regular air flights from Kaunas to Königsberg (current Kaliningrad) started their service in 1921. Later more flights to various European destinations were offered.
The total Kaunas population in 1923 was 92 000.
The first bus route started its service in 1929. Žaliakalnis Funicular Railway began its operaration in 1931, while Aleksotas Funicular Railway began its operation in 1935.
Kaunas Sports Hall, one of the biggest sports halls in Europe (at the time) designed for playing basketball, was built in 1939. It was the venue of the 1939 FIBA European Championship.
Kaunas was rapidly developing during the Interwar period. A large number of buildings of the Modern Period (representing the architectural styles of neoclassicism, functionalism, and
was built in the city during the period.
Military aircraft manufacturing under the leadership of
an officer in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, was started in 1925. The total of 66 military aircrafts
one of the most modern aircrafts in the world at the time, was manufactured.
Until the World War II Kaunas had a significant Jewish population that constituted about one-fourth of the city's population. Commercial, artisan, and professional sectors of the city were dominated by Jews. Kaunas was also a center of Jewish education.
Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940.
Kaunas became the industrial city during the Soviet occupation. Many Soviet-style buildings were built in this time.
Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania since 1990 with the total population of approx. 350 000 people .
Famous people who were born or lived in Kaunas:
Lithuanian-Polish poet ,
Lithuanian-Jewish novelist who wrote in Hebrew,
, mathematician and professor of universities of Königsberg, Zürich and Göttingen.
the author of the first puppet-animated film in the world, historian
, Polish historian
who lived in Kaunas, Japanese official
, the member of the Jesuit Order, Lithuanian historian, the Rector and Professor of Vilnius University,
, the member and the central coordinator of
, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers,
, Latvian and Lithuanian archeologist, Professor of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas,
, a Dutch businessman and diplomat who helped Jews escape Lithuania during World War II,
- famous Finnish/Swedish poet and publicist,
and other famous people of Lithuania.
Copyright © 2017 Darius Krasauskas,