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
Kaunas old town is relatively small, but full of nice buildings, cafes, restaurants, museums. This is the best place in Kaunas to spend your time.
is the oldest brick castle in Lithuania Two towers of the castle survived into the present. One of them is open to visitors. The castle was first mentioned in 1361 in the German Chronicles. The probable time of construction of the castle is the middle of the 14th century. The castle was built to withstand the
. The castle was built in strategically good place - between the Nemunas River and the Neris River. The castle was a part of the defensive system of castles and hillforts along the Nemunas River. The first battle near the castle when it was under construction occurred in 1362. The castle was destroyed and rebuilt in 1404. The walls of the castle reached 10 m in height and 3,5 m in thickness4 towers were built in the corners of the castle. There was enough space for 600 defenders in the castle in 1409.
The castle became the residence of thetown’s governor
after the end of wars between the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, The jail and the court of the castle survived into the present. The castle was fortified and construction of a new bastion for cannons began when the Livonian war (1558-1558) started. The castle lost its defensive value after the end of the war. The castle was partially destroyed in the 17th century during the war between Lithuania and Russia. Two towers and most of the castle’s area were washed out by the Neris River during the 17th-19th centuries .
Construction of houses in the territory of the castle was authorized by the Russian administration in Kaunas in 1870. The houses were demolished in 1930. More recently, scientific research of the castle were carried out and the castle was slowly reconstructed. The castle was partially reconstructed during the Soviet era and museum was opened in the castle. The main tower was reconstructed again in 2010.
The bastion with a tower, a part of the second tower and the wall fragments are the only objects that survived into the present. The
was opened in the main tower in 2012. Visitors of the castle can see the exposition of the museum, the old jail and thecourt.
Kaunas Town Hall
(address: Rotušės square 15), one of the most beautiful and the oldest buildings in Kaunas can be found in Rotuses square situated in the heart of the Old Town. Its construction began back in 1542. The height of the main tower is 53 m.
Today the Town Hall serves as the Wedding Hall (marriage registration office), the venue of official ceremonies of welcoming of the city guests, signing of agreements and official events. The Town Hall is also a place of
Kaunas City Museum
Perkunas (Thunder) house
Aleksoto str. 6, Kaunas (Old town)
Monday – Friday : 10.00 – 16.30
TICKETS: : adults- 1.50 EUR, schoolchildren - 0.80 EUR.
The House of Perkūnas is one of the most spectacular buildings in Kaunas Old Town built in the Gothic style.
The house was built at the end of the 15th century. Originally it was used as a living house. Later it was taken over by
merchants and served as their office . The house was owned by B. Bitneris, the mayor of Kaunas, in the 16th century.
the Rector of Vilnius University and Lithuanian historian, was born here in 1609.
The house was owned by Jesuits and reconstructed in the 17th century. The building housed the Jesuit chapel until 1772 and collegium until 1773. More recently, the house was reconstructed once again. The name
(Thunder) was first introduced in the 19th century. It derives from Lithuanian pagan god named Perkunas.
The first drama theatre was founded here in 1844, which was closed in 1863. The House of Perkunas was once again reconstructed in the same year. It housed the Russian orthodox school that operated here until the beginning of the 20 century. It was taken over by Jesuits and stayed in their possession from 1924 to 1944
The house was reconstructed in 1964-1968.
Currently, the House of Perkūnas is in possession of Kaunas Jesuit Gymnasium. It houses the Memorial museum of poet
Old river port
(near Vytautas the Great church)
Kaunas was established on the banks of two rivers - the Nemunas River and the Neris River. Despite the fact that the Neris River is not suitable for navigation in our days, it was broadly used for navigation in the Medieval Period. The travelers could travel to Vilnius (165km) on the waters of the Neris River and to Grodno (305km) on the waters of the Nemunas River. The first port in Kaunas was established back in the 15th century. A river navigation was popular in the Medieval Period. Travelers could travel from Kaunas to Gdansk on the waters of various rivers. Kaunas customs and storehouses were situated close to the river port.
Kaunas had its own shipyards. Nemunas embankment served as a river port until the 20th century. The coastal area along the river was paved with stones in the 19th century and could serve the passenger ships.
In 1855, during the Crimea war, Kaunas was the only river port in the Russian Empire, used for trading with other countries. The Prussian ports were the main trade partners. The total of approx. 5000 ships per year could be served by the port at the time. The trade and winter port was relocated to the area near the Nemunas island and the Church of the Holy Cross (Carmelitian) in 1917 by the German occupational government, where it stayed during the Interwar period when Lithuania regained its independence. The port was also used as a shipyard.
Kaunas had 30 passenger ships serving the routes between Kaunas and Smalininkai and between Kaunas and Babtai during the Interwar period (in the 20th century).
There was a shipyard in the Nemunas island during the Soviet period. The port and the shipyard were moved to Vilijampole, the eldership of Kaunas, in the seventies of the 20th century (where they are operated in our days).
Raketa hydrofoil was used to carry passengers from the port in Vilijampole to Nida, the most beautiful resort of Lithuania.
More recently, the port was relocated to a new place in Vilijampole with a small quay for tourists and private boats.
You can spend time enjoying nice views of the Nemunas River from the old river port and drinking coffee in the local restaurant. The port is a venue of frequent summer festivals and open air concerts.
Near the old port -
Vytautas the Great bridge
. The bridge was built in 1948.
There was no permanent bridge in this place in until 1930, because of wars and floodings.
A firm wooden bridge was built by the Napoleonic army in 1812. But it was set on fire by the army on its way back from Russia.
Temporary wooden cable ferries were used until 1853. They were not strong enough and this often resulted in disasters, especially in Autumns and Winters. More recently, a temporary pontoon bridge for use during a summer season was built. A permanent wooden bridge was built once again in 1914 by the Russian army during the World War I (it was burnt in 1915 and rebuilt by the German army „Hohenzollernbrucke“).
The bridge served for several years, until 1930, when a new modern steel bridge was built. The Soviet army blew up the bridge in 1941. A pontoon bridge was built by the Nazi in the same place in which survived until 1944.
A current bridge is operated since 1948. Not only two different parts of Kaunas were located on two opposite banks of the Nemunas River at the beginning of the 20th century, but it also served as a border between two different countries, i.e. the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia (since 1795). 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 (the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar with a difference of 13 days).
Those who were crossing the bridge could "jump" 13 days forward or back in time.
Old warehouses (used mainly for port needs, Muziejaus str. 8, 9). The warehouses were built in the area close to river port and since the 15th century served as a trading area by the German merchants who traded via Kaunas river port.The warehouse located at Muziejaus str. 9 is very old (from the 15th – 16th centuries). The warehouse at Muziejaus str. 8 was built in the 19th century and was used to store goods before shipping. Currently it houses
Lithuanian Sport Museum
(Muziejaus str. 7, 9).
A warehouse that was built at the beginning of the 20th century has survived into the present and can be seen at Zamenhofo str. 4, Palangos str.9, A. Jakšto str. 18.
A house located at Muitinės str. 2
- currently under reconstruction.
According to historians, this house was the residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in the 15th – 16th centuries A part of the house was destroyed during the war with Russia in 1655.
It was first mentioned in 1589.
The building was under possession of B. Rava, the member of the city’s magistrate, in the 17th century. It housed the Court of the noblemen of Kaunas district at the end of the 17th century. In the first half of the 19th century it was under possession of Kaunas customs.
The Franciscan monastery and church (built in the 15th century in the Gothic style) were standing near the building closer to the Nemunas River. The monastery and the church were partially destroyed during the
Napoleon’s invasion and was later reconstructed. The monastery was closed during the Russian occupation (in the first half of the 19th century) and the catholic church was turned into Russian Orthodox church. The building of the monastery served as a chancellery of the Russian police and military for a while. The building of the monastery was abandoned in 1862 and was demolished in 1870. Some walls of the building were reconstructed and became a part of a new hospital (the facades of the Baroque style were destroyed). The only remaining elements of the old monastery were its wall and gate. Building at Muitinės str.2 also became a part of the complex of the hospital buildings.
The building housed the city hospital in 1918-1940. It was operated as a psychiatric hospital during the Soviet period .
In 2006 the management of the building was delegated to Kaunas faculty of Vilnius Academy of Art . The building is currently under reconstruction.
Old Gothic-Renaissance houses (Muitinės str. 8) were built in the Lutheran quartier in the 16th – 17th centuries. The houses were restored in 1984. Now they are under the possession of Vilnius University. As research revealed, a customs office operated in the western part of the complex of the buildings in the 15th – 17th centuries.
Old Gothic-Renaissance houses
(Muitinės str. 12,14) were built in the 16th – 17th centuries. They belonged to to rich burghers. The houses were built in the Lutheran quartier (mainly Germans) . The houses were partially destroyed during the war with Russia (1655-1661), and were later restored. One of the offices of the city's royal customs operated in this quartier, but it did not survive into the present. The French Emperor Napoleon stayed overnight (Muitinės str. 14)during the campaign against Russia.
The houses are currently under possession of Vilnius University Kaunas Faculty of Humanities.
The house at Šv. Gertrūdos str. 33. The house was built in 1781-1786 (construction was financed from the city budget). The house served as the
town hotel for travelers
. It was proposed by Steponas Glemockis, the mayor of Kaunas, in 1776 to build a house for town visitors. The decision was put in to effect in 1777, but was completed only in 1786.
The house was devastated by the Russian army in 1792 and was no longer valued as a hotel. A post office of Kaunas operated here for a while. More recently it housed a tavern and was used as the premises for horses. The house was abandoned in 1822 and has not been used for a long time. In 1880-1881 thehouse was reconstructed and turned into an apartment block. The house was restored in 1921-1925 and was adapted for residential and trade purposes (soap manufacture, wine selling). It was once again restored in 2010-2011. Currently it houses a school of art.
House at Vilniaus str. 10
. The first house was built in the 16th century in this place. Simonas Gradauskas, the mayor of the town, had a house here. The housewas destroyed during the wars in the 17th century. The house was rebuilt by Petras Petersonas, the memeber of the town’smagistrate.
This house and other nearby houses were devastated during the wars and the Great fire in 1732. The houses were restored and decorated with new Baroque elements and beautiful pediments. It housed shops in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pharmacy operated on the first floor of the house.
The house was restored several years ago. Currently it houses a bar and restaurant. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Vilniaus street.
The house at Vilniaus str. 7.
The house was built at the end of the 16th century – the beginning of 17th century in Gothic style. It was owned by the pastor of Kaunas parish church (current Kaunas Cathedral Basilica). In 1808-1864 it was under possession of the St. Augustine's monastery. Later shops operated on the first floor of the building. It was restored in 1986. Currently it belongs to the Catholic Church
The house at Vilniaus str. 11.
A 1 storey building was standing in this place at the beginning of 16th century. The second floor was built at the end of the 16th – the beginning of the 17th century in Gothic style. The walls of the building are very thick - 0,9m. The pediment is made in Renaissance style.
It belonged to the Catholic Church.
The building was restored and regained its original state in 1963.
Currently it houses a book store of the Old Town on the ground floor.
Former meat market (meat shops) in the yard of Muitines 74. Built in 1852-1853. The windows were just from the yard side.
There were 32 meat shops, several warehouses and living rooms. Meat shops worked until the First World War. The building purpose was changed in 1920. Shops were reconstructed to apartaments, cofee and cacao workshop. Windows were made to Muitines street at that time.
Reconstructed in 1957, but later the building was abandoned, stayed in very poor condition.
Reconstructed in 1992.
Currently depends to Vytautas Magnus University.
A former synagogue
(Zamenhofo str.7) was built in the Jewish quarter in 1850. The house was restored in 2005. Now it houses a conference hall and the Institute of Family relations.
Other the Old town objects are listed in:
the Town Hall square
You can reach the City Centre from the City Hall square by foot. Take a walk down the Vilniaus street – the main street of the Old Town. You will find coffee shops (which are turned into open air coffee shops during in a summer season) and stores.
The old town chruches you'll find in
Copyright © 2017 Darius Krasauskas,