Kaunas facts for kids

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Kaunas
Skyline of Kaunas
Coat of arms of Kaunas
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Laikinoji sostinė
Location of Kaunas
Location of Kaunas
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Aukštaitija
County Kaunas County
Municipality Kaunas city
Number of elderates 11
Capital of Kaunas County
Kaunas city municipality
Kaunas district municipality
First mentioned 1361
Granted city rights 1408
Population (2007)
 • Total 358 107
 • Rank 2nd
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Kaunas is in the Russian Empire, it was the capital of the Kaunas Governorate from 1843 to 1915. During the interwar period, it served as the temporary capital of Lithuania, when Vilnius was part of Poland between 1920 and 1939. During that period Kaunas was celebrated for its rich cultural and academic life, fashion, construction of countless Art Deco and Lithuanian National Romanticism architectural-style buildings as well as popular furniture, the interior design of the time, and a widespread café culture.

The city interwar architecture is regarded as among the finest examples of European Art Deco and has received the European Heritage Label. It contributed to Kaunas being named as the first city in Central and Eastern Europe to be designated as a UNESCO City of Design. Kaunas has been selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2022, together with Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.

The city is the capital of Kaunas County, and the seat of the Kaunas city municipality and the Kaunas District Municipality. It is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kaunas. Kaunas is located at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and is near the Kaunas Reservoir, the largest body of water in the whole of Lithuania.

Folk history

Zamek w Kownie
The castle in Kaunas

An old legend claims that Kaunas was established by the Romans in ancient times. These Romans were supposedly led by a patrician named Palemon, who had three sons: Barcus, Kunas and Sperus. Palemon fled from Rome because he feared the mad Emperor Nero. Palemon, his sons and other relatives travelled to Lithuania. After Palemon's death, his sons divided his land. Kunas got the land where Kaunas now stands. He built a fortress near the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers, and the city that grew up there was named after him. A suburban region in the vicinity is named "Palemonas".

Culture

Église Sainte-Gertrude de Kaunas-1
The St. Gertrude's Church in Kaunas, Gothic style

Kaunas city is a centered around culture. The Old Town of Kaunas is located at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris Rivers where old architectural monuments and other historical buildings are located. Located to the East of the Old Town is the city's New Town, which started developing in 1847 and got its name when it became a distinct part of the city. Central Kaunas is defined by two pedestrian streets: the 2-km-long Laisvės alėja (Liberty Avenue), a central street of the city, lined by linden trees and decorated with flower beds.

The Old Town is the historical center of Kaunas. The streets in Old Town have been turned to pedestrian sidewalks, so it is best to tour the place by foot. Prominent features of the Old Town include Kaunas Castle, the Town Hall, and the historical Presidential Palace.

Vytautas the Great Bridge from hill, Kaunas, Lithuania - Diliff
Vytautas the Great Bridge, Kaunas, Lithuania

The Town Hall in Kaunas played an important role in the Medieval Times as a center for trade, festivals, and criminals were brought here for punishment. The Town Hall was originally built with wooden frames, however, after numerous fires in 1542 they began to construct buildings with stone. The stone buildings, however, also burned down so the Town Hall that stands today was constructed in a more advanced way, which took from 1771 to 1780. The Town Hall is still a center of culture today, it holds weddings and is the home of the Museum of Ceramics.

Other historical, cultural features of Kaunas include:

Warsaw Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (interior, including eternal flame)
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Eternal flame, and Statues of Lithuanian national renaissance figures are located in the Vienybės square in front of the War museum
  • Kaunas Fortress, one of the largest defensive structures in Europe, occupying 65 km2 (25 sq mi), a 19–20th century military fortress, which includes a Holocaust site of the Ninth Fort
  • House of Perkūnas
  • Interbellum functionalism architecture complexes
  • Two funiculars – Žaliakalnis Funicular Railway and the Aleksotas Funicular Railway
  • Lithuanian open-air Ethnographic Museum displaying the heritage of Lithuanian rural life in a vast collection of authentic resurrected buildings is situated east of Kaunas on the bank of Kaunas Reservoir in a town of Rumšiškės
  • Kaunas Cultural Centre of Various Nations

Museums

Kaunas is often called a city of museums, because of the abundance and variety of them. The museums in Kaunas include:

Lithuanian book smuggler sculpture (2018)
Lithuanian book smuggler sculpture near the Great War Museum in Kaunas
  • War Museum of Vytautas the Great
  • M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum
  • Žmuidzinavičius Museum (best known as the Devils' Museum), which houses a collection of more than two thousand sculptures and carvings of devils from all over the world
  • Lithuanian Aviation Museum
  • Museum of the History of Lithuanian Medicine and Pharmacy
  • Historical Presidential Palace, displaying exhibits from the interwar period
  • Kaunas Museum for the Blind
  • Povilas Stulga Museum of Lithuanian Folk Instruments
  • Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum
  • Sugihara house-museum
  • The apartments of some famous Kaunas residents, including Paulius Galaunė, Adam Mickiewicz, Juozas Grušas, Balys Sruoga, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Salomėja Nėris, Juozas Zikaras, Vincentas Sladkevičius have been turned into public museums

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