Kaunas – the heart of Lithuania or how many capitals will we count here (20+)
Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania and beyond, and can be described as the temporary capital, the capital of basketball, European capital of culture in 2022 and beyond.
We will start our acquaintance with Kaunas from Kaunas Castle. It is the oldest surviving stone castle in Lithuania, 14th century. A settlement developed around this castle, which grew into the present city. According to legends, the army of Queen Bona Sforza is mysteriously underground here. Today, the Kaunas City Museum is located in the castle, where we will get acquainted with the history of the castle and the city. In the stylized castle prison we will try on the medieval chains with our fur, take a photo of being imprisoned at the “pillar of shame”, 16–19 c. Used to punish criminals in Western Europe. Here, in the basement of the castle, there is a ghost of the castle. And these are not all the secrets of the castle!
We continue on our way to Kaunas City Hall, sometimes called the White Swan because of its ornate, white facade. We will visit the Lithuanian Museum of Medical and Pharmaceutical History in the Town Hall Square. It is one of the most unique museums in the Baltic States. Its collections consist of personal belongings of Lithuanian physicians and pharmacists, medical devices, documents, hospital and pharmacy equipment. On the way from the hall to the hall, you get acquainted with the structure of the pharmacy, which consists of the office (prescription room), cocktail, drug storage room, laboratory, basement.
In Vilniaus Street, leading to the Lithuanian capital, we will see the buildings of the 16th century. This street is probably always bustling, because there are many cozy restaurants and cafes, souvenir shops, various events and fairs.
We continue our walk around Vilnius Street at the historic presidency here. As you know, the temporary capital of Lithuania was Kaunas in 1919-1939. Political, economic and cultural life moved here. All three then Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania worked and lived in the Presidential palace: Antanas Smetona, Aleksandras Stulginskis and Kazys Grinius. Today, this building houses the museum. In the courtyard of the Presidential palace you can see sculptures of the former Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania.
Let’s visit St. Gertrude Church. The greatest sacral value of this sanctuary is the cross with the sculpture of the Crucifix, which has long been famous for the graces experienced by believers. And after descending to the basement of the church we will find here the so-called candle sanctuary. Here, anyone can light a candle that does not go out for 7 days. The prayers, faith and love of the believers are symbolized by this unquenchable flame in the sanctuary.
It is also worth seeing the usual yard of Kaunas apartment building. He has been different for more than a decade. On the walls of the house we will see photos of Jews who once lived here, their families; other various abstractions by artists, drawings such as a yard cat squatting in a window with yellow shutters.
Kaunas cannot be imagined without one of its symbols – Laisvės Alley. Let’s go and we are on this 1.7 km long one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. This alley is like a gem of Kaunas architecture between the wars. Going here, we see the exceptional and rich legacy of Kaunas interwar modernist architecture, which is a reflection of the intelligentsia, industry, government and diplomatic institutions that once moved here. Until now, Kaunas remains probably the only city in the world where so many modernist, Bauhaus-style buildings have been built and have survived to this day. Kaunas modernist buildings are included in the list of the European Heritage Label and Kaunas has been given the name of a UNESCO city of design.
In Kaunas, we will invite you to the “Journey of Lithuanian Drinks” at the first and probably the only museum of strong alcohol in Lithuania. Here we will get acquainted with the history of the „Stumbras“ beverage plant and the company’s role in the development of Lithuanian industrialization. The factory, which still operates in 100-year-old buildings, and the museum itself reveal historical memory and at the same time allow us to see how drinks are created and bottled at the Stumbras factory today. We will hear stories about the origins of the most famous beverages produced here, see the whole process of their production and have the opportunity to taste the most popular products.
On an extraordinary excursion with the brewer, we will visit Wolf Engelman in a minibrewery, get acquainted with the art of brewing, the exclusive history of the brewery and become evaluators of the tastes of this drink. During the degustation we will taste different types of naturally fermented kraft drinks that are created in minibrewery.