Location: 100 km (62 mi) West of Vilnius

Info Center:

Laisves aleja 36

Tel. (37) 323 436


Kaunas - the second largest and most important city in Lithuania, the administrative center of the Kaunas region, in 1919-1940 - the temporary capital of the Republic of Lithuania.


Kaunas Castle

Pilies 17

Tel. (37) 323 436

Open: 10:30am- 1pm Mon- Fri


Church of Saint Michael


Laisves Aleja


Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul


Vilniaus 1

Tel. (37) 324 093

Service: 7am, 8am, 6pm daily

8am, 9am, 10:30am Sat

8am, 9am, 10:30am, 12pm Sun


Old Town Hall

Rotuses aikste


Devil's Museum

V Putvinskio 64

Tel. (37) 221 587


Vytautas Church

Aleksoto 3

Tel. (37) 203 854

Service: 6pm Tue- Thu

10am, 6pm Sat

10am, 12pm, 6pm Sun


Perkunas House

Aleksoto 6

Tel. (37) 302 994

Open: 10am- 4pm Mon- Fri

11am-1pm Sun

Church of the Holy Trinity

Rotuses aikste 22

Tel. (37) 323 734

Service: 10am


Church of Saint George

Papilio 9

Tel. (37) 224 659

Service: 6pm Mon- Fri, 10:30am Sun



Mykolas Zilinskas Art Gallery

Nepriklausomybes 12

Tel. (37) 322 788

Open: 11am- 5pm Tue- Sun


M K Ciurlionis Art Museum

V Putvinskio 55

Tel. (37) 229 475

Open: 11am- 5pm Tue- Sun

IX Fortas (Ninth Fort Museum)

Open: March- Nov 10am- 6pm Wed- Mon, Dec- Feb 10am- 4pm Wed- Sun

Tel. 37 377 715

Entrance Fee: 6 Lt, children 3 Lt, under 7 free

Bus: 35, 23




The name of the city is derived from the Baltic root Kau, meaning "low, swampy, swampy place" or derived from the Lithuanian name Kaunas. This surname is still found in Lithuania. Who was Kaunas is unknown, it is believed that he could be the ruler of the castle. Until the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1918, the city was called Kovno or Kovna, the traditional Slavic form of the name.

First mentioned in 1030. It was part of Samogitia. The first mention in chronicles dates back to 1361, when the brick Kaunas Castle was built. In 1362 the castle was captured after a siege and destroyed by the Teutonic Order. It was one of the largest and most important military victories of the Teutonic Knights in the 14th century against Lithuania. Kaunas Castle was rebuilt at the beginning of the 15th century.

In 1408, the city received the Magdeburg Rights from Vytautas the Great and in 1413 became the center of the Kaunas district in the Trakai Voivodeship. The power of self-government of Kaunas was divided between three main interconnected institutions: vaitas (mayor), Magistrates (12 people's assessors and 4 burgomasters) and the so-called Bench Court (12 people). Kaunas began to gain fame as it was located at the crossroads of trade routes and a river port. In 1441 Kaunas joined the Hanseatic League. A trade representation of the Hansa Office was opened - the only one in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The city began to play an important role in the economy of the Baltic Sea region and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The first school, a public hospital, a pharmacy were built in the city, its importance as a center of trade with Western Europe and a river port grew. In 1657 and 1708 plague raged in Kaunas. In 1731 and 1732 fires destroyed part of the city.

XVII-XVIII centuries, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania fell into decay. As a result of the Third Partition of the Commonwealth in 1795, the city became part of the Russian Empire. The economic situation gradually improved, but in 1812, during the invasion of Russia, Napoleon's army passed through Kaunas and the city suffered serious damage.

Kovno Governorate with its center in Kovno (Kaunas) was formed in 1843. In 1862, a railway linking the Russian and German empires was built, making Kaunas an important railway hub. To protect the western borders of the Russian Empire, the Kovno fortress was built.

In 1863, after the unsuccessful Polish-Lithuanian January Uprising against the Russian Empire, the residence of the Bishop of Samogitia, Motejus Valančius, was moved from Varniai to Kaunas. Soon the Kaunas Theological Seminary became one of the centers of the national revival of Lithuania in the era of Russification. Many of the seminary students were actively involved in smuggling forbidden Lithuanian books. In 1884, seminary students began to print the newspaper "Lithuania" (lit. Lietuva) in Lithuanian.

After the First World War in 1919, when the capital Vilnius was annexed by Poland, Kaunas became the temporary capital of Lithuania. The city held this status until 1939. The first president of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona, and all subsequent presidents of the interwar period worked in the presidential palace in Kaunas.

In 1920, the Constituent Seimas of Lithuania was assembled in Kaunas, which laid the foundation for the legislative system of the state. The Seimas adopted a number of important laws, in particular on land reform, the national currency, and adopted a new constitution. During independence, Kaunas grew. The city has been called Little Paris for its rich cultural and academic life, architecture and widespread cafe culture. The temporary capital had a Western standard of living with fairly high salaries. At the time, skilled workers were earning very similar real wages to workers in Germany, Italy, and France, and Lithuanian industrial production increased by 160% from 1913 to 1940. Kaunas was the largest city in Lithuania and grew rapidly. New suburbs were planned and built (in particular, the Žaliakalnis district), the city expanded from 18 to 40 square kilometers. In 1924, buses began to run, in 1928 a water pipeline was built, three modern bridges were built across the Neris and Nemunas rivers. An important role in the development of the city at that time was played by its burgomaster Jonas Vileišis. As a result, Kaunas has become an active participant in European urban life.

The city was also a particularly important center for the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In January 1919, during the Lithuanian Wars of Independence, the Kaunas Military School was established and began to train soldiers. In May 1919, the Lithuanian State Aviation Plant was founded in the Fred area to repair and supply the army with military aircraft. In Kaunas, the production of the Lithuanian military aircraft ANBO began.


During the Second World War, the advanced units of the German troops entered the city on the evening of June 24, 1941 (they crossed the river on a ship - the bridge over the Neman was blown up), which had already been cleared of Soviet troops by the detachments of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LFA), which raised an uprising in the first day of the war.

On June 25, the Lithuanians staged a pogrom in Viliyampol (Slobodka), at least 800 Jews were killed.

Parts of the regular German army showed up in Kaunas on 25 June. The first order of the occupying authorities was that it was forbidden to organize an honorary reception of the German army, no posters, no one can show up on the street when the first units pass.

On August 1, 1941, the Lithuanian government, on the orders of the German military commandants, approved the "Regulations on the Jews", according to which Jews were ordered to live exclusively in special areas of residence - the ghetto. In Kaunas, such an area was the suburb of Vilijampole (formerly Slobodka), where 30 thousand Jews of the Kaunas ghetto were forcibly settled.

On August 1, 1944, units of the 5th Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front of the Red Army entered the city. displayed courage and valor.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Lithuania, partisan detachments of the Forest Brothers began their activities in Kaunas and its environs, which were largely suppressed by 1953. On November 2, 1956, on the Day of All the Dead Faithful, demonstrations of Lithuanian youth were held in the city, which were of an anti-Soviet nature, which led to clashes with the police. As a result, the participants were arrested. On May 14, 1972, 19-year-old Romas Kalanta, in protest against Soviet rule in Lithuania, committed self-immolation next to the fountain near the musical theater on Laisves Alley (Freedom; lit. Laisvės). This caused massive anti-Soviet protests in the city, which were quickly suppressed.

In the late 1980s, the anti-communist movement intensified in Kaunas. On June 10, 1988, a local branch of the Sąjūdis organization was formed, and on October 9 of the same year, the Lithuanian flag was raised over the tower of the Vytautas the Great Military Museum (lit. Vytauto Didžiojo karo muziejus) (February 16, 1989, on the anniversary of the adoption of the act of independence of Lithuania In 1918, Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius called for secession from the USSR at a sermon in Kaunas Cathedral for the first time. about 200 thousand people.

On March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared independence. During the January events of 1991, after the occupation of the radio and television buildings in Vilnius by the Soviet troops, the only Lithuanian television program was broadcast from Kaunas. On August 31, 1993, the last formations of the North-Western Group of Forces of the Russian Army left the city.

In 1993, a new coat of arms of Kaunas was approved. The urban economy has gradually transformed into service sectors such as logistics, transport, tourism and information technology. In September 1993, Pope John Paul II visited Kaunas during his visit to Lithuania, celebrating mass and meeting with youth at the stadium. Darius and Girenas. About 30 thousand people took part in the meeting.

Kaunas-born Vytautas Landsbergis and Valdas Adamkus became heads of state in 1990 and 1998.

On March 29, 2017, Kaunas was named European Capital of Culture 2022.


Coat of arms

The heraldic seal of Kaunas, introduced at the beginning of the 15th century during the reign of Grand Duke Vytautas (lit. Vytautas), is the oldest city heraldic seal known in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. From the 15th century, a tour was depicted on city official seals, from the end of the 15th century it was supplemented by a cross. Since 1843, the emblem of the Kovno province depicted a monument erected on the town hall square in memory of the Patriotic War of 1812.

On May 2, 1935, the Kaunas City Council approved a coat of arms depicting a white tour with golden hooves on a purple background, and a cross between the horns. Since 1969, a coat of arms has been used with a white bison on a red background. By a decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania on June 30, 1993, the historical coat of arms of the city of Kaunas was restored: on a red shield there is a white round with a golden cross between the horns.

Kaunas also has a large coat of arms, which depicts a ship, three golden balls and the Latin text "Diligite justitiam qui judicatis terram". The large coat of arms refers to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants and sailors, whom Queen Bona Sforza considered the heavenly guardian of Kaunas.