Things to Do in Kaunas
Kaunas, Lithuania's second biggest city, sits at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. Formerly serving time as the country’s temporary capital when Vilnius was annexed to Poland in the early 20th century, Kaunas grew to become Lithuania’s industrial powerhouse.
Kaunas is also a cultural city and there are over 40 museums and an Old Town, whose buildings featuring Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque architecture. Most notable sights include the 14th century Kaunas Castle, Vytautas’ Church and Kaunas Cathedral Basilica - the largest Gothic building in Lithuania.
Kaunas center is defined by 2 pedestrian streets: tree-lined Liberty Avenue (Laisves aleja) and Vilnius Street, the latter leading to the Old Town.
Part of the 19th-century Kaunas Fortress, the Ninth Fort took on a darker role in Lithuania’s history during the country’s Nazi occupation in World War II, when it was used as a Jewish extermination camp. Today, the site has been preserved as a museum and memorial dedicated to the more than 30,000 people who were killed there.
Situated on the scenic riverfront, Kaunas Castle is a 14th century structure packed with archaeological relics. Tour the castle to see a medieval prison, history exhibits, and animation about the 1362 castle siege. The castle is part of the Kaunas City Museum and also holds exhibits about Lithuania's past.
The country’s finest example of Italian baroque architecture can be seen at the Pazaislis Monastery (Pazaislio Vienuolynas) complex in Kaunas, the largest such structure in Lithuania.
Built in 1662 by the order of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, four Italian architects designed the church and monastery, while sculptors of Lombardy completed the frescos and plaster casts.
Converted to an Orthodox church by the Russians in 1832, the church was also used as an archive, a psychiatric hospital and an art gallery in its time before being returned to the Catholic order in the 1990s and reconstructed to its former glory.
Every year, the Pazaislis Monastery plays hosts to an international music festival. If you visit during the summer months, you won’t be able to miss it.
The Devils' Museum (also known as the Zmuidzinavicius Museum) in Kaunas, Lithuania features the Antanas Zmuidzinavicius collection of sculptures and carvings of devils from around the world, as well as witches and other mythological characters. It includes 3,000 articles of arts and crafts, fine arts and souvenirs made from materials such as wood, glass, porcelain and paper. Visitors are invited to add to the collection.
The museum was established in Zmuidzinavicius’ home after his death in 1966 and originally consisted of his 260 devil sculptures. It is now considered one of the most unique museums in the world, covering three floors. The first floor displays Lithuanian devils, many of which are painted on silk or canvas, carved in wood or made of ceramic or stone. The second floor features a large wooden devil and includes an exhibit of pebbles resembling the devil. On the third floor you will find devils from outside of Lithuania, many of which were donated by visitors to the museum.
Since it opened its doors in 2014, the Atomic Bunker Museum has earned acclaim as one of Kaunas’ most unique visitor attractions, offering a fascinating insight into the city’s war history. Housed in an authentic nuclear bunker, located 6 meters beneath the ground and built during the Soviet period, the museum’s private collection features over 1,200 items dating from WWI to present-day.
Visitors can marvel over WWI, WWII and Cold War artifacts from radios and transmitters, to medical equipment and air horns. Highlights include a huge collection of gas masks, a number of surveillance devices used by the GRU and the KGB, and the bunker’s own detection devices, used to monitor the presence of radiation and chemical weapons in the environment.
The M. K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art is dedicated to showcasing the creations of the museum's namesake, M. K. Ciurlionis. Enjoy a variety of works by this composer, writer, and visual artist, ranging from paintings and graphics to music, available in recordings and also presented live, in the site’s performance spaces.
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