Infobox Settlement
name = Kaunas
nickname = Laikinoji sostinė
settlement_type = City municipality

map_caption = Location of Kaunas
image_shield = Kaunas city COA.png

image_caption = Kaunas City Hall
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = LTU
subdivision_type1 = Ethnographic region
subdivision_name1 = Aukštaitija
subdivision_name2 = Kaunas County
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name3 = Kaunas city municipality
subdivision_type3 = Municipality
subdivision_type6 = Capital of
subdivision_name6 = Kaunas County
Kaunas city municipality
Kaunas district municipality
part_type = Elderships
p1 = Aleksotas
p2 = Centras
p3 = Dainava
p4 = Eiguliai
p5 = Gričiupis
p6 = Panemunė
p7 = Petrašiūnai
p8 = Šančiai
p9 = Šilainiai
p10= Vilijampolė
p11= Žaliakalnis
established_date = 1361
established_title = First mentioned
established_date2 = 1408
established_title2 = Granted city rights
population_total = 355,550
population_as_of = 2008
population_footnotes =
area_total_km2 = 157
timezone = EET
utc_offset = +2
timezone_DST = EEST
utc_offset_DST = +3
latd = 54 |latm = 54 |lats = |latNS = N
longd = 23 |longm = 56 |longs = |longEW = E
coordinates_display= inline,title
coordinates_type =region:LT_type:city(355000)
website = http://www.kaunas.lt/3

Kaunas (pronunciation|Kaunas.ogg, pronEng|ˈkoʊnəs) is the second largest city in Lithuania and a former temporary capital. It is served by the freeways Via Baltica (E67) and Vilnius-Klaipėda (A1). Kaunas is located at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and near the Kaunas Reservoir, the largest body of water entirely in Lithuania.


The city's name is of Lithuanian origins and most likely derives from a personal name. [cite book | last = Zinkevičius | first = Zigmas | authorlink = Zigmas Zinkevičius | coauthors = | title = Senosios Lietuvos valstybės vardynas | publisher = Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas | date = 2007 | location = Vilnius | pages = p.42 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 5420016060 ]

Before Lithuania regained independence, the city was generally known in English as "Kovno", the traditional Slavicized form of its name; the Polish name is "Kowno". The traditional Russian name is "Ковно", although "Каунас" has been used since 1940. The Yiddish name is "Kovne" (קאָװנע), while its names in German include "Kaunas" and "Kauen".

Coat of arms

In June 30, 1993 the historical coat of arms of Kaunas city was established by a special presidential decree. The coat of arms features a white aurochs with a golden cross between his horns, set against a deep red background. The aurochs is the original heraldic symbol of the city since 1400. The current emblem was the result of much study and discussion on the part of the Lithuanian Heraldry Commission, and realized by the artist Raimondas Miknevičius. An aurochs has replaced a wisent, depicted in the Soviet era emblem, used since 1969.


Grand Duchy of Lithuania

On the site of the current Kaunas old town at the confluence of two large rivers, a settlement had been established by the tenth century AD. It is believed that the town was founded in 1030, but it is first mentioned in written sources in 1361. In the thirteenth century, a stone wall was built as protection from constant raids by the Teutonic Knights. In 1362, the town was captured by the Teutonic Knights, who destroyed the Kaunas Castle. The castle was rebuilt at the beginning of the 15th century.

In 1408 the town was granted Magdeburg Rights by Vytautas the Great and became a center of Kaunas Powiat in Trakai Voivodeship in 1413. Kaunas then began to gain prominence, since it was at an intersection of trade routes and a river port. In 1441 Kaunas joined the Hanseatic League, and Hansa merchant offices were opened. By the 16th century, Kaunas had a public school, a hospital, and a drugstore, and was one of the best-formed towns in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

In 1665, the Russian army attacked the city several times, and in 1701 the city was occupied by the Swedish army. The Black Death struck the area in 1657 and 1708, and fires destroyed parts of the city in 1731 and 1732.

Russian Empire

After the final partition of the Polish-Lithuanian state in 1795, the city was occupied by the Russian Empire and became a part of Vilna Governorate. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the Grand Army of Napoleon passed through Kaunas twice, devastating the city both times.

After the Partitions, Kaunas was one of the centres of the November Uprising (1830-1831) and the January Uprising (1863-1864). To suppress the local population, the Russian authorities subsequently placed a huge military garrison in the town. The Russian military fortifications from that time still survive throughout the town.

Kovno Governorate with a center in Kovno (Kaunas) was formed in 1843. In 1862 a railway connecting the Russian Empire and Germany was constructed, making Kaunas a significant railway hub with one of the first railway tunnels in the Empire, completed in 1861. In 1898 the first power plant started operating.

Inter-war Lithuania

After Vilnius was occupied by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1919, the government of the Republic of Lithuania established its main base here. Later, when Vilnius was seized by Poland, Kaunas became the interim capital of the Lithuanian government, a position it held until 1939, when Poland was partitioned between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Stalin returned Vilnius to Lithuania, and the process of moving the capital was initiated. Before it was complete, however, the whole country was occupied by the Soviet Union.

Between the World Wars industry prospered in Kaunas; it was at the time the largest city in Lithuania. Under direction of the mayor Jonas Vileišis (1921-1931) Kaunas grew rapidly and was extensively modernised. A water and wastewater system, costing over 15 million Lithuanian litas, was put in place; the city expanded from 18 square kilometers to 40; more than 2,500 buildings were built, including three modern bridges over the Neris and Nemunas rivers. All the city streets were paved, horse-drawn transportation was replaced with modern bus lines, new suburbs were planned and built (Žaliakalnis neighborhood in particular), new parks and squares were established. The foundations for a social security system were laid, three new schools were built, and new public libraries, including the Vincas Kudirka library, were established. Vileišis maintained many contacts in other European cities, and as a result Kaunas was an active participant in European urban life.

During the inter-war period Kaunas had a Jewish population of 35,000-40,000, about one-fourth of the city's total population [ [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005174 Kovno ] ] . Jews were concentrated in the city's commercial, artisan, and professional sectors. Kaunas was also a center of Jewish learning. The yeshiva in Slobodka (Vilijampolė) was one of Europe's most prestigious institutions of higher Jewish learning. Kaunas had a rich and varied Jewish culture. The city had almost 100 Jewish organizations, 40 synagogues, many Yiddish schools, 4 Hebrew high schools, a Jewish hospital, and scores of Jewish-owned businesses. It was also an important Zionist center.

oviet occupation

In 1940 Kaunas was annexed by the Soviet Union as part of the Lithuanian SSR. 14 June 1941 marked the beginning of mass arrests, executions and deportations of citizens to Siberia and other parts of Russia. After the outbreak of German invasion into USSR on 23 June an uprising began in Kaunas and short-lived period of independence was proclaimed in Kaunas on June 23, 1941.

The Tragedy of Kaunas' Jews

Jewish life in Kaunas was first disrupted when the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in June 1940. The occupation was accompanied by arrests, confiscations, and the elimination of all free institutions. Jewish community organizations disappeared almost overnight. Soviet authorities confiscated the property of many Jews while hundreds were exiled to Siberia. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Activist Front, founded by Lithuanian nationalist émigrés in Berlin, disseminated anti-semitic literature in Lithuania. [ [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005174 Kovno ] ] Among other themes, the literature blamed Jews for the Soviet occupation.

Following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Soviet forces fled Kaunas. Immediately before and following the German occupation of the city on June 25, the anti-Communist German organized insurgents began to attack Jews, blaming them for Soviet repressions, especially along Jurbarko and Kriščiukaičio streets. [ [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005174 Kovno ] ] They murdered hundreds of Jews and took dozens more Jews to the Lietūkis garage, in the city center, and killed them there.

The Nazis eventually established the Kaunas Ghetto, which by the end of the war would be nearly completely liquidated. [ [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005174 Kovno ] ]

Modern times

After World War II Kaunas became the main industrial city of Lithuania – it produced about a quarter of Lithuania's industrial output.

After the proclamation of Lithuanian independence in 1991, Soviet attempts to suppress the rebellion focused on the Sitkūnai Radio Station,Fact|date=October 2007 which were a critical part of the remaining free media.Fact|date=October 2007 They were defended by the citizenry of Kaunas.Fact|date=October 2007


Historical population

Ethnic composition

With almost 93 percent of its citizens being ethnic Lithuanians, Kaunas is one of the most Lithuanian cities in the country. Kaunas has a higher proportion of ethnic Lithuanians than Vilnius, and more ethnic Lithuanians than Riga has ethnic Latvians or Tallinn has ethnic Estonians.

Ethnic composition in 2001, out of a total of 378,943: [ [http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/pages/view/?id=1351 2001 Census - Lithuanian Government Department of Statistics] ]
#Lithuanians 352,051
#Russians 16,622
#Ukrainians 1,906
#Poles 1,600
#Other 6,764

Municipality council

Kaunas city municipality council is the governing body of the Kaunas city municipality. It is responsible for municipality laws. The council is composed of 41 member elected for four-year terms.

The council is the member of The Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania.


*1990–1991 – Vidmantas Adomonis
*1991–1992 – Vilimas Čiurinskas
*1992–1995 – Arimantas Račkauskas
*1995 – Rimantas Tumosa
*1995–1997 – Vladas Katkevičius
*1997 – Alfonsas Andriuškevičius
*1997–2000 – Henrikas Tamulis
*2000 – Vytautas Šustauskas
*2000 – Gediminas Budnikas
*2001–2002 – Erikas Tamašauskas
*2002–2003 – Giedrius Donatas Ašmys
*2003–2007 – Arvydas Garbaravičius
*since 2007 – Andrius Kupčinskas


Administrative divisions

Kaunas is divided into 11 elderates



Points of interest

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 its continuation, Vilnius Street, leading to the oldest part of Kaunas. Some of the most prominent features in Kaunas include:

*the Kaunas Castle, a 14th century fortification;
*the Vytautas' Church, one of the oldest churches in Lithuania and the oldest in Kaunas;
*the Kaunas Cathedral Basilica, the largest Gothic building in Lithuania, with a late Baroque interior;
*the St. George's Church, which was rumoured to have been turned into a dance studio during the Soviet Occupation;
*the Pažaislis abbey, an impressive complex in Baroque style;
*the massive Neo-Byzantine church of St. Michael the Archangel;
*the Christ’s Resurrection Church with an unfolding panoramic view of the city;
*Kaunas Zoo, the only state-operated zoo in Lithuania;
*Kaunas Fortress, a 19-20th century military fortress, which includes a Holocaust site of the Ninth Fort;
*Kaunas Botanical Garden;
*Napoleon's Hill;
*House of Perkūnas;
*Town Hall and the square;
*Interbellum functionalism architecture complexes;
*The Žaliakalnis Funicular Railway;
*Ąžuolynas Park and the valley of Girstupis River named after Adam Mickiewicz.


Kaunas is often called a city of museums, because of the abundance and variety of them. The museums in Kaunas include:
*the War Museum of Vytautas the Great;
*the M. K. Čiurlionis State Art Museum, commemorating the work of the early 20th century avant-garde artist who sought to combine painting and music into a single artistic medium;
*a gallery of works collected by Mykolas Žilinskas at the Kaunas Art Gallery;
*the 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, most of them of folk provenance. Of particular interest are the Hitler and Stalin devils, together doing the dance of death over a playground littered with human bones;
*Aviation Museum;
*Ceramics Museum in the Town Hall of Kaunas;
*Communications History Museum;
*Kaunas Picture Gallery, with a little exhibition about George Maciunas, founding member of the Fluxus-movement, born in Kaunas;
*Lithuanian Sports Museum;
*Medicine and Pharmacy Museum;
*Historical Presidential Palace, displaying exhibits from the interwar period
*Museum For The Blind;
*Museum of Exiles and Political Prisoners;
*Museum of Folk Music and Instruments;
*Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum.


*Kaunas State Drama Theatre
*Kaunas State Musical Theatre
*Kaunas Youth Chamber Theatre
*Kaunas State Puppet Theatre
*Kaunas Little Teatre

Public art

A great deal of sculptuary is on display in the public areas of Kaunas.


Kaunas has 16 trolleybus routes, 49 bus routes ( [http://transportas.kaunas.lt/downloads/Kauno_VT_schema.jpgMap] ), a wide shared taxi carrier network - see [http://transportas.kaunas.lt/en/ Kaunas Public Transport] -, and it is also one of the major river ports in the Baltic States. The city is located in the centre of Lithuania, making it highly significant from a logistical point of view. Kaunas International Airport (KUN) is capable of handling 300,000 passengers and 100,000 tonnes of cargo per year. There is also the smaller S. Darius and S. Girėnas Airport south of town.


Since Kaunas is located on confluence of two rivers in the city are 34 bridges.
*Vytautas the Great Bridge connecting Old Town with Aleksotas across Nemunas,
*M. K. Čiurlionis Bridge for car transport across Nemunas,
*Vilijampolė Bridge connecting Old Town with Vilijampolė across Neris River,
*The Green railway bridge.


Kaunas is home to the Žalgiris basketball club, one of Europe's strongest, which plays home matches in Kaunas Sports Hall. The city is also the birthplace or childhood home of many of the country's top basketball stars, among them Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Linas Kleiza and Šarūnas Jasikevičius. The main stadium of the city is S.Dariaus ir S.Girėno Sporto Centras (total capacity 9,000), which is also the Lithuanian soccer club FBK Kaunas's and Lithuanian national football team home stadium.


Kaunas is often called a city of students; there are about 50,000 students enrolled in its universities.

*ISM University of Management and Economics
*Vytautas Magnus University
* [http://www.kvk.lt/?set_lang=en Kaunas Business College]
* [http://www.kauko.lt/english/college.php?page=college&main=college Kaunas College]
*Kaunas University of Medicine
*Kaunas University of Technology
*Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education
*Lithuanian University of Agriculture
*Lithuanian Veterinary Academy
*Vilnius University Kaunas Faculty of Humanities
* [http://www.kdi.lt/english/ Kaunas Art Institute]

Annual events

*Kaziukas Fair Kaunas fork (beginning of March)
*International open-air "Kaunas Jazz Festival" (April-May)
*International dance competition "Amber Couple" (beginning of May)
*Day of Kaunas city (middle of May)
*International poetry festival "Spring of poetry" (end of May)
*Pažaislis music festival (June-August)
*Traditional folk music competition "Play, Jurgelis" (November)
*Christmas tree lighting (end of November)
*Kaunas Textile Art Biennial (next from November 2007 until March 2008)

Notable residents

*Valdas Adamkus [ [http://www.president.lt/family/ Official website of the President of Lithuania] ]
*Aharon Amir
*Donatas Banionis
*Aharon Barak
*Antanas Baranauskas
*Marija Gimbutas
*Emma Goldman
*Juozas Grušas
*Žydrūnas Ilgauskas
*Tadas Ivanauskas
*Valdas Ivanauskas
*Šarūnas Jasikevičius
*Romas Kalanta
*Linas Kleiza
*Vytautas Landsbergis
*Emmanuel Levinas (philosopher)
*George Maciunas
*Abraham Mapu
*Šarūnas Marčiulionis
*Adam Mickiewicz
*Hermann Minkowski
*Oskar Minkowski
*Vlado Perlemuter (pianist)
*Michał Pius Römer (lawyer, judge)
*Arvydas Sabonis
*Mykolas Sleževičius
*Jonas Vileišis
*Vytautas Šliumba (Former Soaring Champion)
*Vytautas Žalakevičius
*L. L. Zamenhof (inventor of the Esperanto language)


*Two of the country's three funiculars are located in Kaunas.
*The main pedestrian street in the city, Laisvės alėja (Liberty Avenue), is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe.
*National hero Romas Kalanta committed self-immolation in Kaunas in protest against the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.
*Emma Goldman, the celebrated proponent of anarchism, was born in Kaunas.
*It is a sister city of Los Angeles.
*Sugihara Street commemorates the Japanese consul who issued thousands of exit visas to Lithuanian and Polish Jews during his World War II service in Kaunas. His home in Kaunas is now a museum.

Footnotes and references


:"This article incorporates text from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and has been released under the GFDL."

External links

* [http://www.kaunas.lt/ Website of Kaunas city]
* [http://www.gutstein.net/kaunas/kaunas-home.htm Kaunas Web Page] by Jose Gutstein
* [http://www.nwi.ru/id=5/city_id=8/lang=1/city.cgi Kaunas tour overview]
* [http://www.inyourpocket.com/lithuania/kaunas/en/ Kaunas In Your Pocket] City Guide (also a [http://www.inyourpocket.com/instant/kaunas-instant-guide.pdf downloadable PDF guide] )
* [http://www.randburg.com/li/kaunasci.html The city of Kaunas]
* [http://www.balticroads.lt/en/cities/kaunas.asp A short description of Kaunas]
* [http://www.bfcollection.net/cities/lithuania/kaunas/kaunas_01.html Historic images of Kaunas]
* [http://www.kaunasair.lt/index.php?lang=2&m=1&p=110 Kaunas International Airport]
* [http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/kovno/kovno.html Kovno site] and [http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/kovno/kovno_pages/kovno_stories_links.html Kovno stories links] by Eilat Gordin Levitan
* [http://muziejai.mch.mii.lt/Kaunas/kauno_rajonas.en.htm Museums in Kaunas]
* [http://www.kaunasjazz.lt/ The Kaunas Jazz festival]
* [http://www.bienale.lt Kaunas Textile Art Biennial]
* [http://www.kaunomozaika.lt Kauno mozaika - the project of urban photography]
* [http://www.kaunas.lt/transportas/ Public transportation in Kaunas (omnibuses, trolleybuses)]
* [http://visit.kaunas.lt/ Tourist Information Centre of Kaunas region]
* [http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Lithuania/Kauno_Apskritis/Kaunas-448588/TravelGuide-Kaunas.html Kaunas Travel Guide (tips about Kaunas)]
*United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005174 Kovno]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kaunas — Wappen Fl …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kaunas — Escudo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kaunas — Kaunas …   Wikipédia en Français

  • KAUNAS — (Pol. Kowno; Rus. Kovno; Ger. under Nazi occupation, Kauen), city in Lithuania situated at the confluence of the rivers Viliya and Neman. Formerly in Poland Lithuania, it passed to Russia in 1795, was occupied by Germany in World War I (1915–18) …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Kaunas — (en polaco: Kowno, en ruso Каунас, antiguamente Ковно), es la segunda ciudad más grande de Lituania con 400.000 habitantes. Kaunas es famosa por su casco histórico. La ciudad está situada en la importante autopista Vía Báltica (E 67) Varsovia… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Kaunas — (Каунас,Литва) Категория отеля: 4 звездочный отель Адрес: Laisves Al. 79, LT 44297 Каунас, Ли …   Каталог отелей

  • Kaunas — ou Kovno v. de Lituanie, sur le Niémen; 405 000 hab. Industr. diverses. Anc. cap. de la Lituanie …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Kaunas — Kaũnas dkt. XIV amžiuje pastatyta pirmoji Kaũno pili̇̀s …   Bendrinės lietuvių kalbos žodyno antraštynas

  • Kaunas — [kou′näs΄] city in SC Lithuania, on the Neman River: pop. 415,000 …   English World dictionary

  • Kaunas — /kow nahs/, n. a city in S central Lithuania. 370,000. Russian, Kovno. * * * Russian Kovno City (pop., 2001: 378,943), southern Lithuania. Founded as a fortress in 1030, it passed to Russia in 1795 after the third partition of Poland. It was the… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.