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KAUNAS – INTERIM CAPITAL OF LITHUANIA

Kaunas – the most important Lithuanian city between 1919-1940. At that time the city, which nowadays is becoming the part of UNESCO, flourished for its unique modernistic style of architecture, diplomatic representatives started opening. On this excursion you will get acquainted with historical Presidential palace, former houses of Parliament, post office, house of officers, Unity square, visit musical theatre square. We will offer you to get on to the terrace of the Christ resurrection church to admire wonderful views of the city.

1. The historical constituent house of Parliament (Gimnazijos st. 3)
The building was constructed in 1862 m., in 1873-1883 Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis the great Lithuanian poet and symbol of the rebirth of the nation, studied and finished the higher school here. On the 27 January 1920 high courses - the first high school of independent Lithuania was established. 1920-1935 – the first floor hosted the public state library. The constituent and the three following parliaments of Lithuania worked here from 1920 until 1927. The interior of the building was designed by architect Vladimiras Dubeneckis. Aleksandras Stulginskis was elected as the President of Lithuania for the period 1922 - 1923 years by the majority, in June 1926– Kazys Grinius and in December of the same year – Antanas Smetona were elected. The solemn ceremonies of the oath of Presidents were executed here and the newly declared President was escorted to the President house.

2. Historic Palace of the President of the Republic of Lithuania in Kaunas (Vilniaus g. 33)
The history of the Historic Presidential Palace started in 1846. Between 1998 and 2003, the Presidential Palace underwent restoration and, at present, welcomes visitors to a branch of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. The Presidential Palace is symbolically ‘guarded’ by the bronze statues of Antanas Smetona, Kazys Grinius and Aleksandras Stulginskis, the three Presidents of the interwar period.

3. Kaunas central post office (Laisvės ave.102)
The central post building is one of the most important buildings representative of the inter‑war period— a contemporary centre of communication constructed in 1930–1932. It is a very valuable symbol of national modernistic architecture. Folk accents in the building are reflected by wood carvings on window rims, cement cornices, interior boasts of a ceramic floor laid with a national weave texture. The architect was F.Vizbaras.

4. Laisvės Avenue
This 1.6 km‑long boulevard designed solely for pedestrians is one of a kind in Lithuania. It connects the most important parts of the city, the Old Town and the New Town. Both the start and the end of the avenue were formed in the 19th century and are precisely aligned East—West. Every spring this street is filled with the hustle and bustle brought by the Kaziukas (St. Casimir’s) Fair and Kaunas City Day celebrations. The street is also much liked by young dancers, musicians and artists who give performances all the year round.

5. Musical theatre (Laisvės al. 91)
The Musical Theatre opened its doors in this building in 1940. The repertoire of the theatre includes operas, operettas, ballets and plays for children. The memorial dedicated to Romas Kalanta and designed by R. Antinis is located at the nearby city garden.

6. Former Ministry of Justice and the palace of Parliament (L. Sapiegos str. 5)
The building was started in 1925 between. L.Sapiegos and E.Ožeškienės streets under the project of architect Edmundas Frykas, finished in 1928. The house referred to neoclassical style with expressive features of „art-deco“. In 1936 after renovation in the main part of the building in big semi round hall on the 1 –st of September the opening of the first session of Lithuanian Parliament was held. In 1961 half of the building and the big hall was passed to Kaunas division of national philharmonic of Lithuania.

7. Lithuanian bank house. (Maironio str. 25)
The bank started its function on the 2 October 1922 in Kaunas. On the 12 03 1925 the basement stone was put for the start of its construction (archit. M. Songaila) and at the end of 1928 the bank building was finished. The construction was of high quality, equipped with reliable security system, which was produced in England. It was one of the most important, beautiful and significant buildings of Lithuanian at that time. In 1940 Lithuanian division of state bank of the USSR was opened here. In 1970 the building was listed as an architectural monument. On the 01 03 1990 it was passed to newly founded Lithuanian bank, in 2003 announced as the monument of culture.

8. Officers’ palace (A. Mickevičiaus st. 19)
The Palace, built in 1937, is an extravagant building of the late inter‑war period. It is distinguished by its
‘national’ style and patriotic symbols. The palace is made of local building materials which serve both for representation of the state and for the public need. This edifice is the location of the officers’ club and its decorative architecture testifies to the honorific status of officers during the inter‑war period. The architects of the building were Stasys Kudokas, Kazys Kriščiukaitis and Jonas Kova-Kovalskis; the engineer was Anatolijus Rozenbliumas.

9. Vytauto Magnus war museum(K. Donelaičio str. 64)
It witnesses maturity of modern Lithuanian culture and serves as the monument to one of the most famous leaders of Medieval Lithuania. The building under the project of V. Dubeneckis, K. Reisonas, K. Kriščiukaitis represents the identity of historical architecture of Kaunas the best and in a most expressive way – the harmony of combination between modernism and tradition. There is a memorial site next to the museum, the square of monuments devoted to the most prominent activists and events of Independence.

10. Unity square
Symbol of Lithuania -unique square in the city centre with eternal flame for the victims of independence, and a monument of freedom (sculpt. J. Zikaras). There are many monumental busts for famous politicians, writers, book smugglers. Wooden crosses –witnesses of the fighters who died for independence of Lithuania. As it was earlier, in our days as well it is possible to listen to carillon music of harmonized bells of various sizes. Concerts which started in 1956, are held every Saturday and Sunday at 4.00 pm.

11. Former Palace of Ministers.(K. Donelaičio g. 58)
In 1919 this building hosted the Ministry of Education of Lithuania, but from 1921 – the palace of Ministers, functioned until occupation of Lithuania in 1940. In 1924 it was reconstructed, side parts heightened, interior integrated new elements. In 1930 full reconstruction of the building was made.
At that time on the second floor a new official apartment was equipped, which played a representative function as well. In 1935–1939 the Minister of Foreign affairs Stasys Lozoraitis (1898–1983) with his family lived here. Nowadays there is a rectorate of Vytautas Magnus university as well as a museum of diplomats S. and S. Lozoraitis in this building.

12. Žaliakalnis funicular (Aušros g. 6)
At the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the next decade Kaunas experienced fast modernization. Much attention was devoted to improving the infrastructure of the city—water-supply, drainage and transport. While the Žaliakalnis funicular was being built there was consultation with a German specialist engineering company in Leipzig („Curt Rudolph Transportanlagen“). This company prepared the project and manufactured the funicular; electrical equipment was supplied by „AEG“ and the chassis was acquired from the Swiss firm „Theodor Bell“. The American Lithuanian company „Amlit“ in Kaunas
made the vehicles. It takes 1min 38sec to go from the bottom to the top of the funicular. The Kaunas funiculars seemed in the pre‑war years to be the brightest and unique signs of leading technology, testifying to a fast‑growing city.

13. The basilica of Christ‘s Resurrection (Žemaičių st.31)
Undoubtedly the most exquisite example of sacred architecture in inter‑war Kaunas, the church is distinguished for its scale, urban situation and political importance. This is the symbol of independence and resurrection of the nation. The height of the tower is 63m. In Soviet times (1952) it was conveerted to a radio factory. In 1990 it was returned to the Catholic Church. On the 6th April 2015, it was reclassified as a small basilica. It was designed by Karolis Reisonas (1933–1940).

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