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REFLECTIONS OF KAUNAS MODERNISTIC ARCHITECTURE

In 2015 Kaunas was granted the sign of European heritage and included into the list of UNESCO design cities. Nowadays – this is an exceptional inheritance, witnessing the golden period of flourishment of the city, when Kaunas as a historical capital of Lithuania developed its modernistic architecture in parallel with other European cities. Don’t miss the chance of learning the phenomenon of modernistic architecture combining national and Christian style elements.

1. 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.

2. Kaunas municipality (Laisvės al. 96)
There were the houses of the state saving bank built in1938–1940 under the project of an engineer and architect A. Funkas. Nowadays Kaunas municipality functions in the building. The building is laconic, not elaborate: vertical windows stripes prevail it. The main plan of the house volume is half closed. The central facade is six-storied, the sides are five-storied. Vertical edges of the building make its constructive and strict silhouette lighter.

3. Vatican’s Enunciate (V. Putvinskio str. 56)
The only building in Kaunas, which was constructed exactly for its mission – diplomatic representation. The project was made by architect Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis in 1930. Characteristic with the building’s interior was functional planning of premises as an innovative feature peculiar to the most famous examples of modernism. When relations between the Church and the Lithuanian government became worse in 1931, enunciate had to leave the country. In 1932 the house was leased and adapted to the hospital for children. In 1940 a new enunciate arrived to Lithuania, but the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, so the enunciate couldn’t start working. After the World War II there was a kinder garden here, from 1971 – Department of culture, from 1973 – house for artists.

4. National M.K. Čiurlionis art museum (V. Putvinskio g. 55)
The idea of art museum appeared at the beginning of the XX c, with the first presentations of exhibitions of Lithuanian works of art in 1907 as well as activities of Lithuanian art union. In 1921 temporal building was projected, but in 1930 a project of a new museum building was made under the project of Vladimiras Dubeneckis, Karolis Reisonas and Kazimieras Kriščiukaitis. This is the only place where there is nearly a whole heritage of the most famous works of the Lithuanian painter, composer, educator M. K. Čiurlionis (1875–1911). M. K. Čiurlionis gallery exhibits Lithuanian genius paintings and graphic works. There is a possibility to listen to M. K. Čiurlionis music records in music hall. Museum organizes various events: children and professional singer concerts, books presentations, lectures, seminars, scientific conferences, guided tours, educational programs prepared for children and youngsters.

5. Vytautas Magnus war museum (K. Donelaičio str. 64)
This is a symbol of modern Lithuanian culture maturity, a monument to one of the biggest Lithuanian dukes of Middle age. The building under the project of V. Dubeneckis, K. Reisonas, K. Kriščiukaitis, represents the identity of the Lithuanian architecture in between the wars best of all – its expression is the combination of tradition and modernism in harmony. There is a unique area next to the museum – the eternal Flame and the sculpture of Freedom (sculpt. J. Zikaras) – both are symbols of the Lithuanian statehood .Many monumental busts to famous Lithuanian politicians, writers, book smugglers on site. Wooden crosses remind of those who died for Lithuanian independence. Today we can listen to impressive carillon music as well, played by bells of different sizes in composition to each other. The concerts which started in 1956 is held every Saturday and Sunday at 4.00 pm.

6. Former agriculture bank house (K. Donelaičio str. 73)
Majority of historical buildings of between the wars in the cities and province of Lithuania are characterized by clearly expressed classical features. Rational and functional features in the bank architecture started appearing in the fourth decade. The building by Karolis Reisonas is peculiar for reserved architectural features, but bright colors prevail interior, main attention payed to hygiene and cleanness.

7. Milk centre (S. Daukanto st. 18)
This is the most impressive contemporary multifunctional commercial and residential equivalent of
inter‑war Kaunas. This palatial building was awarded a bronze medal and diploma of honour in the international exhibition ‘Art and Technique in Modern Life’ („Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques“) Paris, 1937. The building is distinguished by its simplicity as well as its expressive and commanding architecture. In the interim period the ground floor was assigned to commerce: The „Milk centre“ shop, milk bar and the Murali parlour. The architect was Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, 1931-1932.

8. Former„Pažanga“ house(Laisvės al. 53)
This is one of the most impressive buildings representing modernistic architecture, the project made by architect F. Vizbaras, built by developers D. ir G. Ilgovskiai (1934). The exterior of the building is noted for „national style“ elements in main facade, balconies decorations and interior details. There were offices of „Pažanga“, „Lietuvos Aidas“, „Jaunoji Lietuva“ , later shops and a restaurant on the fifth floor. After 1940 apartments were equipped (from the back side), headquarters of various scientific organizations, Vytautas Magnus university functioned for some time.

9. Romuva cinema (Laisvės al. 54)
This is the last cinema to start in free Kaunas. The largest and the most modern cinema has 687 seats. „Romuva“ is a unique heritage of Lithuanian cinema history. It is the only one to have preserved its role and structure to the present time. Preservation of this building has been the result of a great public effort. The architect was Nikolajus Mačiulskis (1940).

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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).

13. Kaunas sports hall (Perkūno al. 5)
Kaunas sports hall was built in 1938 as a cradle of Lithuanian basketball. In half a year it became the only in Europe adapted just for basketball. Impressive technical solutions in hall, such as : four riveted steel arches, ferroconcrete background , wooden platforms (later changed into ferroconcrete), with capacity of 11 000 spectators (3500 seats). Many prestige awards won in it; 1939 year is known for European basketball championship held here, which gave this hall European status. Such dignity was awarded for victory of Lithuanian basketball team in the championship as well as for modern arena.

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