Although Kaunas Old Town has the visitor plenty to offer when enjoying a city trip. Interwar architecture, unique museums and parks, statues and so on. Take a trolleybus, use one of the two funiculars or simply stroll and discover some hidden gems in Kaunas Guide.
Devil Museum in Kaunas Guide Outside Old Town
The best way to describe the Devil's Museum in Kaunas is "unique". The prominent Lithuanian painter and activist Professor Antanas Zmuidzinavicius (1876 - 1966) initiated this collection of worldwide fame. The story of the beginning of the collection is not an habitual one. In 1906, a man from Samogitia gave the painter a wooden sculpture of a devil as a present.
A bizarre coincidence followed this as the well-known priest and writer Juozas Tumas-Vaizgantas on the 13th of June (Zmuidzinavicius' patron saint's day) brought him a wooden statue named "Trampled Devil" dating back to the 18th century showing Saint Archangel Michael trampling a devil. The statue was so huge that the priest just sawed the saint off and brought the devil as a present. This was the start of the collection and soon devils from around the world arrived the painter's house. Initially, the painter exhibited the collection in his studio, but in 1961 he donated the collection to the state and the exhibition opened for the public in 1966. In 1983 it moved to its current place in the wing next to the memorial museum.
|Address||V. Putvinskio gatve 64, Kaunas|
|Telephone||+370 37 20 41 02|
|Open||Tuesday - Sunday 11:00 - 17:00|
AB Underground Printing House Kaunas
Founded and run by Vytautas Andziulis (born in 1930) and Juozas Bacevicius (1918-1995), the AB Underground Printing House operated at great risk during the last decade of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. The printing-house (the title comes from the family names of the founders) is hidden 3 meters underground under a greenhouse in the garden of Andziulis on the outskirts of Kaunas. Dug by hand between 1978 and 1980 and reinforced with sturdy concrete walls, during its lifespan it published 23 title dealing with subjects ranging from Lithuanian history to religion and poetry.
This was all done on a hand-cranked machine built from spare parts gathered by Andziulis, a professional printer. The printing-house is now part of the Vytautas the Great Military Museum. It has been preserved and you van visit it by appointment. Set in the village of Saliai 10 kilometers north of the city center, it's most easily reached by car or possible by bicycle, but it's off the public transport route. The exhibition has labels in Lithuanian only, and the staff will probably not speak any English.
|Address||Spaustuves 2, Saliai|
|Telephone||+370 60 18 65 21|
|Open||Monday - Thursday 10:00 - 17:00|
Seventh Fort Kaunas
The seventh fort is one in a series of twelve forts built between 1882 and the World War I to protect what was then part of Russia from an invasion from the west. The Seventh Fort, completed in 1902, is part of the largest surviving fortress complex built in the days of the Russian Empire. Fairly well-preserved due in part to the fact that, unlike the First, Second and Third Forts, it never saw action.
It served as storage space for the Central State Archive when Kaunas was the country's provisional capital, before entering its darkest period. On July 6, 1941, Lithuanian auxiliary police units murdered some 3,000 Jews at the site. After the war the fort fell into a state of serious disrepair before being privatized in 2009 and opened to the public two years later. There's still a lot of work to do, with restoration so far covering the barracks and dining room where tsarists-era propaganda can been seen painted on the walls. Tours of the site are available.
M.K. Ciurlionis State Art Museum Kaunas
Painter, composer, mystic and depressive are some of the words that have been used to describe Lithuania's favorite artist. During his short lifetime, the Polish-speaking Ciurlionis (1875 - 1911) penned the first Lithuanian symphony, Miške (in The Forest, 1901), painted prolifically, dabbled in photography, and even found time to get married, have a daughter and learn Lithuanian. The museum features many of his original paintings and offers the change to sit in a small lecture theater and listen to his music. Posters, postcards, and CD's of his work are on sale.
The museum also houses a small exhibition of work by some of his contemporaries, including a series of bizarre sculptures made from tree bark and sewn together by Elzbieta Daugviliene (1886 - 1959).
Resurrection Church of Christ Kaunas
This extraordinary, modern white church towering over the city a little way outside the center came about through an idea for a house of worship in praise of Lithuanian independence in 1922. Work began over a decade later to a design by Latvian architect Karlis Reisons (1894 - 1981) who also designed the city's Vytautas the Great Military Museum among other notable Kaunas buildings. Bit it wasn't finished and consecrated until 2004.
The main tower reaches 70 meters into the heavens and the plain but strangely moving interior has enough room for 3,000 worshippers. The church was used as a warehouse by the Nazi's and as a radio factory by the Soviets. Outside are 6 graves, 4 of which are actually empty. The other 2 hold the remains of Vytautas Kazlauskas (1919 - 2008), a Lithuanian priest who spent years working in the Vatican, and Mykolas Krupavicius (1885 - 1970), another local gentleman of the cloth known for his nationalist tendencies.
Stumbras Museum Kaunas
Lithuania's biggest alcoholic spirits producer has been making vodka since 1906, when this factory was opened at the personal decree of Tsar Nicholas II. It unveiled the country's first and perhaps only distilled beverage museum here in 2009, giving an overview not only of the history of the distillery, but also of Lithuania's age-old drinking culture.
See how strong drink is created and bottled and, to enhance the experience, enjoy a tasting session. The museum has a shop too. Book your visit in advance.
|Address||K. Bugos gatve 7, Kaunas|
|Telephone||+370 68 69 43 88|
|Open||By appointment only|
Pazaislis Monastery Kaunas
Given the centuries of war, turmoil, invasion and occupation, it's amazing that any of Lithuania's magnificent Baroque buildings still survive at all. The impressive Late Baroque church and monastery at Pazaislis (PAŽAISLIO VIENUOLYNO ANSAMBLIS) on the eastern edge of Kaunas, close to the shore of the sparkling Kauno Marios, is one of the country's most treasured architectural monuments.
Nuns are still in charge of the monastery, and a peaceful guest house and one of the region's finest and most coveted restaurants absorbs part of the complex. It is possible to walk around and explore the grand old church with its dome, frescos and delicate stucco, even on a Sunday when the venue is officially closed and a service is underway.
Paintings in the alcoves of the hexagonal church show violent scenes from the Bible, meditations on death and Christ's resurrection. Orchards and gardens surround the complex, but it's not possible to walk there. A small museum inside the ensemble traces the history of the buildings from their founding to the present.
Pazaislis Monastery Kaunas
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania's wars with the Golden Horde along the Black Sea coast lead to Vytautas the Great's resettlement of various Tartars in Lithuania from the 14th century onwards. The Lipka Tatars, as the Tatars from Lithuania and Poland are known, have lived in the region ever since. Kaunas' community built the fine-looking Vytautas the Great Mosque (Vytauto Didziojo Mecete) in 1930 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Vytautas' death. During the Soviet occupation it was converted to other uses (a circus, then a storage) before being restored to its original use.
Stepping inside is something of a shock for those who've been visiting churches all day, reminding one more of Kabul than Kaunas. New life is being breathed into it thanks to new Muslim immigrants to the city.
Carmelite Church Of The Holy Cross Kaunas
Carmelite Church Of The Holy Cross
Built on the site of an older church dating from the beginning of the 16th century, local historians are of the general opinion that this often overlooked masterpiece once stood in a place called Kaunakiemis, now long since incorporated into the city's boundaries. Building work on the current structure began in 1685 and was completed 15 years later. Featuring two distinctive towers that weren't completed until the end of the 19th century, the cross-shaped Late Baroque church hides a wealth of chapels, frescoes, and other works of art added over the centuries.
It was for a time a warehouse under tsarist rule but survived fairly intact through the years of Soviet occupation and even has artwork dating from this period.
|Address||Gedimino 1, Kaunas|
|Telephone||+370 37 20 13 40|
|Open||Daily between 08:00 and 18:00|