Kaunas city municipality

  Administrative centre – Kaunas
  Area – 157 km² (1.9 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 355 586 (52.8 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Aleksotas, Centras, Dainava, Eiguliai, Gričiupis, Panemunė,   Petrašiūnai, Šančiai, Šilainiai, Vilijampolė, Žaliakalnis


Kaunas city municipality is located in the centre of Lithuania, at the confluence of two largest Lithuanian rivers – the Nemunas and the Neris. Kaunas city covers about 1174 ha of protected areas – part of the Kaunas Reservoir Regional Park, landscape and zoological reserves, as well as other protected natural heritage objects. Built up area makes up 55.3 %, forests – 16.8 %, water bodies – 8.1 %, roads – 6.1 %, agricultural land – 11.5 %, other land – 2.2 % of the municipality.

The centre of the municipality – the second (in terms of size) Lithuanian city – Kaunas is the administrative, cultural, scientific and business centre of the county. It is at the same time the archbishopric centre, including 90 parishes of Kaunas, Jonava, Jurbarkas, Kėdainiai, Raseiniai, Ukmergė municipalities. Kaunas city, situated by strategic waterways, at the confluence of two largest Lithuanian rivers, is related to the name of Kūnas – the son of the founder of Kaunas, Palemonas. The city was for the first time mentioned in 1140 on the map of an Arab cartographer Al Idrisi. Later the name of Kaunas was mentioned in the chronicle of Wigand of Marburg (Vygandas Marburgietis) in 1361, as the latter was describing Kaunas Castle, attacked by the Crusaders. In 1408, Kaunas obtained Magdeburg city rights. In the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Kaunas became an important trade and crafts centre.

In the times of wars with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Kaunas was destroyed by the Russian army, in the times of the Great Northern War – devastated by the Swedish army, in the times of the Napoleon's march to Russia – impoverished by the French army. In 1795, after the last division of the Lithuanian–Polish Commonwealth, Kaunas went to the Russian Empire, and in 1843 became a centre of the newly founded Kovno Governorate (Kauno gubernija), which was located at the western border of the empire. Kaunas was being developed as a fortified city; forts with a related infrastructure – military barracks, administrative buildings, warehouses, hospitals, roads, railways, houses of worship, etc. – were built. In 1864, after the anti-czarist uprising in 1863, the centre of the Samogitian (Žemaičių; Telšiai) bishopric and Samogitian (Žemaičiai) Priest Seminary were moved to Kaunas from Varniai. In 1904, the first Lithuanian bookshop was opened, in 1905 – S. Banaitis printing house, which, inter alia, printed a Lithuanian newspaper The Voice of Lithuania (Lietuvos balsas). The first Lithuanian associations were established; the first Lithuanian bank was founded.

With the outbreak of World War I, quite a number of industrial enterprises was moved from the city; many people left it. The German occupation government held out up to the end of the year 1918. On 31 December 1918, as the Bolsheviks were forcing their way into Lithuania, the Lithuanian Government and its institutions moved from Vilnius to Kaunas. Later, as the Poles had occupied Vilnius in 1920, Kaunas up to the year 1940 became a temporary capital and the main industrial, financial and cultural centre of Lithuania. In 1940, there were 412 various enterprises and workshops, the most important thereof – textile enterprises Drobė, Liteksas, Kauno audiniai, agricultural companies Maistas, Pienocentras, Lietūkis. In 1919, the first permanent radio station started functioning. In 1922, the Lithuanian (since 1930 – Vytautas Magnus) University  and the Art School were established, in 1933 – the Conservatoire, in 1934 – higher physical education courses, in 1936 – the Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, as well as other educational institutions. The Drama and Opera theatres (which in 1925 were joined to form the Kaunas State Drama Theatre), War Museum (1936), astronomical observatory were founded. There were 54 printing enterprises, more than 100 periodical publications. In 1939, the Sports Hall was built. The first presidents of Independent Lithuania A. Smetona, A. Stulginskis, K. Grinius, public and ecclesiastical personages V. Krėvė-Mickevičius, Maironis (priest Jonas Mačiulis), J. Tumas-Vaižgantas lived and worked in Kaunas.

In the Soviet era, there was a high concentration of industrial enterprises in Kaunas. Food, furniture, building materials, textile, footwear, glass, paper, metal articles, machine, electronics and other branches of industry were developed; the population was growing. Today Kaunas is an important industrial, scientific and cultural centre of Lithuania, located at the crossing of important transport arteries. There are nine universities, where about 40 000 students are enrolled.

There are many historical and cultural monuments – Kaunas Castle, the churches of Corpus Cristi, Vytautas, St Nicolas, Renaissance church of St Gertrude, the church of St George the Martyr, Kaunas Cathedral, a city hall of late Baroque and early Classicism, Evangelical Lutheran church, the House of Perkūnas, Napoleon’s house, Renaissance remains of Kaunas defensive installations, the ensemble of Pažaislis church and monastery. Later structures – Kaunas Musical Theatre, the churches of St Michael the Archangel (Garrison) and of the Resurrection, Vytautas the Great War Museum and others – are also interesting. There are many museums with branches: M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, Mykolas Žilinskas Art, Antanas Žmuidzinavičius museums, Maironis Lithuanian Literature Museum, Vytautas the Great War Museum, Museum of the History of Lithuania Medicine and Pharmacy, Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum and others, as well as the Lithuanian Zoo and Kaunas Botanical Garden, the unique Museum of Devils. The locals and guests of the city enjoy the international summer Pažaislis Music Festival. People who like jazz come together at the festival Kaunas Jazz, while people who like opera and operetta may visit an international festival Operetta in Kaunas Castle (Operetė Kauno pilyje), those taking interest in dance – an international modern dance festival, organised by the modern dance theatre Aura. One of the most famous cultural events taking place in Kaunas – the date of birth of the city, celebrated on the 20th of May; the main events thereof take place during several days on the streets of the Old Town, near Kaunas Castle and elsewhere.

It is only in Kaunas that one may see impressive original works of M. K. Čiurlionis, the collection of pictures of famous painters of M. Žilinskas, the collection of devils of A. Žmuidzinavičius, works of an avant-garde artist, the originator of the Fluxus movement J. Mačiūnas. Distinct cultural and historical traces of different nations (Jews, Russians, Poles, French, Japanese, Italians) may be observed in Kaunas.


Useful links
Kaunas city municipality
Kaunas region tourism information centre
Kaunas Chamber Theatre
Kaunas State Musical Theatre
Kaunas municipal Vincas Kudirka public library
Kaunas Pantomime Theatre
Kaunas Puppet Theatre