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_type2 = County
subdivision_name3 = Kaunas city municipality
subdivision_type3 = Municipality
subdivision_type6 = Capital of
Kaunas city municipality
Kaunas district municipality
part_type = Elderships
p2 = Centras
p3 = Dainava
p6 = Panemunė
established_date = 1361
established_title = First mentioned
established_date2 = 1408
established_title2 = Granted city rights
population_total = 355,550
population_as_of = 2008
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
website = http://www.kaunas.lt/3
Kaunas (pronunciation|Kaunas.ogg, pronEng|ˈkoʊnəs) is the second largest
cityin Lithuaniaand 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
June 30, 1993the historical coat of armsof Kaunas city was established by a special presidential decree. The coat of arms features a white aurochswith 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 emblemwas the result of much study and discussion on the part of the Lithuanian HeraldryCommission, and realized by the artist Raimondas Miknevičius. An aurochs has replaced a wisent, depicted in the Sovietera emblem, used since 1969.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
On the site of the current Kaunas
old townat 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 Rightsby Vytautas the Greatand became a center of Kaunas Powiat in Trakai Voivodeshipin 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 Deathstruck the area in 1657 and 1708, and fires destroyed parts of the city in 1731 and 1732.
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 Napoleonpassed 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 Governoratewith a center in Kovno (Kaunas) was formed in 1843. In 1862 a railway connecting the Russian Empireand Germanywas 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 plantstarted operating.
Vilniuswas 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. Stalinreturned 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 ( Žaliakalnisneighborhood 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 Kudirkalibrary, 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 Zionistcenter.
In 1940 Kaunas was annexed by the Soviet Union as part of the
Lithuanian SSR. 14 June 1941marked the beginning of mass arrests, executions and deportations of citizens to Siberiaand other parts of Russia. After the outbreak of German invasion into USSR on 23 Junean 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 émigrésin 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 ] ]
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
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 Rigahas ethnic Latviansor Tallinnhas 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] ]
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
*1997–2000 – Henrikas Tamulis
*2000 – Gediminas Budnikas
*2001–2002 – Erikas Tamašauskas
*2002–2003 – Giedrius Donatas Ašmys
*2003–2007 – Arvydas Garbaravičius
*since 2007 –
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:
Kaunas Castle, a 14th century fortification;
*the Vytautas' Church, one of the oldest churches in Lithuania and the oldest in Kaunas;
Kaunas Cathedral Basilica, the largest Gothic building in Lithuania, with a late Baroqueinterior;
*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;
Neo-Byzantinechurch of St. Michael the Archangel;
Christ’s Resurrection Churchwith an unfolding panoramic view of the city;
Kaunas Zoo, the only state-operated zooin Lithuania;
Kaunas Fortress, a 19-20th century military fortress, which includes a Holocaustsite of the Ninth Fort;
Kaunas Botanical Garden;
House of Perkūnas;
*Town Hall and the square;
Interbellum functionalism architecturecomplexes;
Žaliakalnis Funicular Railway;
ĄžuolynasPark and the valley of Girstupis Rivernamed after Adam Mickiewicz.
Kaunas is often called a city of museums, because of the abundance and variety of them. The museums in Kaunas include:
War Museum of Vytautas the Great;
M. K. ČiurlionisState Art Museum, commemorating the work of the early 20th century avant-gardeartist 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;
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 Hitlerand Stalindevils, together doing the dance of death over a playground littered with human bones;
*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
*Museum For The Blind;
*Museum of Exiles and Political Prisoners;
*Museum of Folk Music and Instruments;
Tadas IvanauskasZoological Museum.
Kaunas State Drama Theatre
Kaunas State Musical Theatre
Kaunas Youth Chamber Theatre
Kaunas State Puppet Theatre
Kaunas Little Teatre
A great deal of sculptuary is on display in the public areas of Kaunas.
Kaunas has 16
trolleybusroutes, 49 busroutes ( [http://transportas.kaunas.lt/downloads/Kauno_VT_schema.jpgMap] ), a wide shared taxicarrier 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 Airportsouth of town.
Since Kaunas is located on confluence of two rivers in the city are 34 bridges.
Vytautas the Great Bridgeconnecting Old Town with Aleksotasacross Nemunas,
M. K. Čiurlionis Bridgefor car transport across Nemunas,
Vilijampolė Bridgeconnecting Old Town with Vilijampolėacross Neris River,
*The Green railway bridge.
Kaunas is home to the Žalgiris
basketballclub, 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 basketballstars, among them Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Linas Kleizaand 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 soccerclub FBK Kaunas's and Lithuanian national football teamhome 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]
*Kaziukas Fair Kaunas fork (beginning of March)
*International open-air "Kaunas Jazz Festival" (April-May)
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)
folk music competition"Play, Jurgelis" (November)
Christmas treelighting (end of November)
*Kaunas Textile Art Biennial (next from November 2007 until March 2008)
Valdas Adamkus[ [http://www.president.lt/family/ Official website of the President of Lithuania] ]
Michał Pius Römer(lawyer, judge)
Vytautas Šliumba(Former Soaring Champion)
L. L. Zamenhof(inventor of the Esperantolanguage)
*Two of the country's three
funiculars are located in Kaunas.
pedestrian streetin the city, Laisvės alėja(Liberty Avenue), is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe.
National hero Romas Kalantacommitted self-immolationin Kaunas in protest against the Sovietoccupation of Lithuania.
Emma Goldman, the celebrated proponent of anarchism, was born in Kaunas.
*It is a
sister cityof Los Angeles.
SugiharaStreet 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."
* [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]
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