from €18 per person
Route of the excursion: Vilnius – Kaunas.
One day excursion.
The price shown is for a group of 10 people.
The price includes: guide services.
Transport, food, accommodation and other services – for an extra charge.
Leaving for Kaunas, the provisional capital of interwar Lithuania, early in the morning. Tour of Kaunas by bus.
Then a visit to the Presidential Palace. Continuation of the tour on foot to the zones containing the most important interwar architectural monuments, reflecting the status of provisional capital, style and high artistic value: Central Post office, Laisvės Avenue, Music Theatre and its garden, former Justice and Seimas Palace (Philharmonic Society building), Palace of the Bank of Lithuania, Karininkų ramovė (Garrison Officer’s Club Building), Vytautas the Great War Museum and Vienybės Square. Free time for lunch.
After lunch, a visit to the Christ’s Resurrection Church, then a visit to Sugihara house-museum. Leaving for home towards evening.
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Kaunas – provisional capital of Lithuania
Kaunas became provisional capital of Lithuania, when Poland illegally annexed the official capital Vilnius and its region in 1920 up to 1939. The status of provisional capital made Kaunas more important as political, economic and cultural centre. In addition to newly established governmental institutions a university, museums, a theatre were established, living houses built, streets asphalted, communications, water supply and sewage systems installed.
Kaunas was the most important city of Lithuania in the period from 1919 to 1940, when a unique interwar modernistic architecture style flourished. The status of provisional capital resulted in exceptional growth of the city with governmental institutions, embassies of foreign countries concentrating in it. New industrial and trade enterprises, monopolies were established.
The former Founding Seimas Palace. The palace was built in 1862, where poet Jonas Mačiulis- Maironis learnt and finished grammar school (1920-1927). This building housed the first Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania: the Founding Seimas and Seimas I, II, and III. Architect Vladimir Dubenecki created the interior. It was in this palace that the Seimas majority elected Aleksandras Stulginskis the president in 1922 and re-elected him in 1923, Kazys Grinius was elected president in June of 1926 and Antanas Smetona in December 1926. Official ceremony of president’s oath used to take place in the palace after which the new leader of the country was escorted to Presidential Palace.
Historical Presidential Palace. The history of this palace started in summer of 1919, when the head of the state moved to it. It remained presidential residence until soviet occupation on 15 June 1940. Three presidents of the Republic of Lithuania resided in this palace: A. Smetona, A. Stulginskis and K. Grinius. It was restored in 1998-2003. Presidential garden is “guarded” by bronze statues of these presidents.
Central Post Office of Lithuania. It was designed by F. Vizbaras in 1930-1932. This building is one of the most important representative structures between two world wars, the then communications centre. It is a very important symbol of folk style modernistic architecture. The interior ceramic tiles floor displays folk textiles pattern.
Laisvės alėja (Freedom Avenue) is a 1.7 km long street of boulevard type for pedestrians connecting the Old Town and the New Town. The beginning and end of the avenue formed in the 19th century fits exactly the east-west direction. The most important objects of the new town are concentrated in it and around it. Annually it is flooded by people during Kaziukas fares and the City Days.
Music Theatre Garden. Music Theatre was established in 1940. Operas, operettas, children’s plays are staged there. A monument to commemorate R. Kalanta by sculptor R. Antinis was unveiled in the garden.
Former Justice and Seimas Palace (L. Sapiegos str. 5). The building was started in 1925 according to the design by engineer and architect Edmund Fryk. The construction was completed in 1928. The building is ascribed to Neo-Classicism style with distinct elements of Art Deco architecture. The first sitting of the Seimas took place in the great semi oval hall on September 1, 1936. In 1961, a part of the building with the great hall were handed over to Kaunas section of the State Philharmonic Society of Lithuania. Palace of the Bank of Lithuania (Maironio str. 25). The Bank of Lithuania started its activities in 1922 in Kaunas. Construction of the palace was started in 1925 and completed in1928 (arch. M. Songaila). It was of good quality, with a reliable security system made in England installed. It was one of the most beautiful, richest and most important buildings in Lithuania of that period. In 1940, department of Lithuania of the state bank of the USSR was established in it. The building was included in the list of architectural monuments in 1970. It was handed over to the Bank of Lithuania in 1991. It was declared a cultural monument in 2003.
Karininkų ramovė (Garrison Officers’ Club Building). This building is one of the most prominent structures of the late interwar period in Lithuania containing folk style decorations and patriotic symbols. The building was constructed in 1940 using local materials; it served public needs and state representation. The architecture and decorations of the Garrison Officers’ Club Building show the exceptional social status of officers in Lithuania between two world wars. Architects of the building were S. Kudokas, K. Kriščiukaitis, J. Kova-Kovalskis, engineer A. Rozenbliumas.
Vytautas the Great War Museum (K. Donelaičio str. 64). The building was designed by architects V. Dubeneckis and K. Reisonas. It is a monument to one of the greatest rulers of medieval Lithuania conveying the feeling of particularly harmonious interaction between modernism and tradition. Next to the War Museum there is a memorial square abundant in monuments to famous Independence period figures and events.
Vienybės aikštė. It is a unique garden in the centre of the city with eternal flame and Freedom Monument (sculptor J. Zikaras), the symbol of Lithuania’s statehood. There a number of busts of public officials and writers of Lithuania, carved crosses stand in honour of those who gave their lives for Lithuania’s independence. Every Saturday and Sunday concerts of carillon music take place here. This tradition was started in 1956.
Žaliakalnis funicular (Aušros str./V. Putvinskio str.). At the beginning of the 20th century, Kaunas underwent a rapid modernization stage. A lot of attention was dedicated to improve the city infrastructure: water supply, sewage, transport. For installation of Žaliakalnis funicular German specialists were consulted, Leipzig engineering company Curt Rudolph Transportanlagen prepared the project and made the funicular, AEG company supplied the electric installation, Swiss company T.Bell sold the running gears. At present, the huts running uphill are used as means both of communication and of entertainment.
Christ’s Resurrection Church (Žemaičių str. 31). It is the largest basilican church in the Baltic States designed by K. Reisonas (1932-1940). Undoubtedly, it is the most important example of interwar sacral architecture in Lithuania, the symbol of nation’s resurrection and independence. In the soviet era, in 1952, it was transformed into radio manufacturing plant. In 1990, it was given back to the people. The church is of basilican plan, consisting of three naves. Architecture is monumental, laconic. The tower is 70m high. It is possible to get to the roof and admire the panorama of the city from observation platform. The church was granted the status of the small basilica in 2015.
Japanese Consulate. Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara, vice-consul of the Japanese consulate resided in this building before WWII. This diplomat issued about 6000 Japanese transit visas in July-August of 1940 to Jewish people from Lithuania, Poland, Germany saving them from Holocaust. Jews called the gate, which used to stand by the house, “The Gate of Hope”. On August 2, 1940, all the embassies were closed; however, the Japanese consulate moved to the Metropolis restaurant and continued issuing visas. Even before leaving Kaunas, consul Sugihara managed to issue several dozens of visas at the railway station, straight on the platform. In 1985, Sugihara was granted the title of the Righteous Gentile among the Nations.
UNESCO design city. Kaunas became the first city in East and Middle Europe having received the status of UNESCO design city in 2015 for perfect interwar architecture.