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MEDIEVAL KAUNAS

This route is only for getting acquainted with medieval Kaunas when it was famous for trade contacts created by Hanseatic merchants who hosted the city. While travelling all by yourselves, you will learn about the history of Kaunas feel the spirit of the Middle Ages, visit the oldest Kaunas sites which have already then started shaping the identity of the city and glorified it in Europe.

1. Kaunas castle (Pilies st. 17)
The castle was built in the 14th century at the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris rivers with the purpose to repel the attacks of the Teutonic Order. Kaunas Castle was the first stone castle in Lithuania and also the only one fortified with two rows of defensive walls. A village was established around this gothic defensive structure which over time developed into the present City of Kaunas. The castle was first mentioned in written records in 1361 when it was destroyed by the forces of the Teutonic Order. The castle was rebuilt several times but lost its significance in 1408 when Kaunas City was granted the Magdeburg rights and the center of the city was transferred to the Market (Town Hall) Square of those times. Presently, Kaunas Castle hosts a branch of the Kaunas City Museum and many cultural events are frequently held in its vicinity.

2. Santakos park
The park is located right at the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris rivers. Both the locals and the guests of the city love to take a stroll in this attractive place. The park is home for many city festivals and recreational activities. There is a children’s playground and a stadium. Many historical sites, such as, as for instance, the Kaunas Castle and St. George Church, are within a short walking distance. The visitors can also admire the city panorama and see the sculpture of Pope John Paul II.

3. Church of St. George (Papilio st. 7)
This Gothic church has been standing at the confluence of the two rivers since the 15th century and is one of the oldest churches in Kaunas. The Gothic church and Monastery have exceptional facade forms. At present, the church is open to believers, citizens and tourists; visitors can see the remainders of catacombs near the central altar.

4. Town Hall Sq.
The Town Hall is often referred to as the White Swan. Its construction started in 1542. The building encompasses elements of Gothic, Renaissance, late Baroque and early Classical architecture. In the middle ages, the Town Hall was the heart of the city hosting the main city market on the Town Hall Square. Following its last reconstruction in 1973, the Town Hall was turned into a ‘wedding palace’. At present, Town Hall host is the City museum. The Tourism Information Centre is also to be found in Town Hall.

5. The house of Perkūnas/ Thunder house (Aleksoto st. 6)
The House of Perkūnas is the most original and breathtaking residential building representing Gothic architecture in Lithuania. It is believed that the house was built in the second half of the 15th century. The house is associated with numerous legends and stories telling about the merchants of the Hanseatic League and the statuette of God of Thunder (in Lithuanian, Perkūnas) which was found in the wall of the building in the 19th century. The first Kaunas Drama Theatre also opened its doors in this building in 1843. At present, the House of Perkūnas belongs to the Jesuit Gymnasium and houses the Memorial Museum of Adomas Mickevičius. Nowadays the House of Perkūnas belongs to Jesuit gymnasium, hosting an exhibition of A. Mickevičius’ life and creative work. Various other exhibitions are held, trips are organized and workshops of traditional crafts are welcomed.

6. Vytautas the Great church/ Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aleksoto st. 3)
Built in the 15th century, this church was one of the first Gothic buildings of Kaunas. The building was originally owned by the Franciscans; during the Napoleonic wars, however, it was used by the military as a warehouse for ammunition. During the period from 1845 to 1953, the church was taken over by the Orthodox Christians. The Writer/Canon J. Tumas Vaižgantas is buried in the church and his memorial museum is located nearby.

7. Vytautas the Great bridge
Vytautas the Great Bridge, which for a long time had been known as the Bridge of Aleksotas, connects Aleksotas District and the Old Town. In the 19th century, it had a reputation as the longest bridge because it took 13 days to cross to the other side (actually, of course, only because of the different calendars used at each end). The bridge was demolished twice during the World War II. It was rebuilt in 1948 by the Architect L. Kazarinskis. The bridge lifting mechanism is still used and important even today. Having crossed the Nemunas River, you can take a ride on the funicular which will take you up to the Aleksotas scenic overlook which gives you a breathtaking panorama of Kaunas.

8. Muitinės st.
This street was called German corner in the middle ages for merchants from Germany visited the city, merchants as well as craftsmen lived here for the sake of trade purposes. German culture is best represented by Evangelic-Lutheran church and consistory built in XVII century (Kaunas art faculty of Vilnius art academy now).

9. Vilniaus st.
This is the main and the most beautiful street of the Old Town; it is solely for pedestrians. The street features several buildings from the 16th century, several of which have been reconstructed. Even the distinctive telephone. Booths suggest that you are walking along the street connecting the old and new parts of the city. The oldest street of the city often becomes the location for traditional events and celebrations, such as Kaunas City Days, Kaziukas (St. Casimir’s) Fair and the like.

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