We are talking about Kaunas, Lithuania, which certainly isn't just a popular destination for tourists and students from all over the world. The city is an established business location. Some German companies have moved to Kaunas, including Continental AG, the automotive supplier Hella, and the logistics firm Hellmann. Kaunas is not exactly a blank page to us at Rutronik either. We are pleased to count this picturesque place among one of our locations. Our Lithuanian office is situated right by the River Neman and just a few minutes away from the beautiful old town.
The city's castle ruins were first mentioned back in 1361. It was destroyed on several occasions by the Knights of the Teutonic Order and for a long time it was a fiercely fought-over Lithuanian cultural asset in the battles between the Polish/Lithuanian army and the Teutonic Order. As the city lost its importance as a stronghold, it enjoyed an upturn in trade until the opening of a first trading post in 1440.
From the 16th century onward, Kaunas became an important place of refuge for a large Jewish community, which was persecuted by pogroms at the time of the Seven Years War in the 18th century. When the capital Vilnius was occupied in the First World War, Kaunas was named the provisional capital of Lithuania and grew in stature as a result.
During the Second World War, in 1941, when the German army invaded Lithuania, countless Jews were immediately murdered or deported to concentration camps in the region.
Despite this dark chapter in the history of the country, Kaunas and many other Lithuanian cities worked hard to rise up again and it is no longer possible to imagine Kaunas in particular as anything other than a great location for tourism and business.
Kaunas will be one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2022. This fantastic honor is the perfect occasion for the city to stage numerous cultural events and festivals that will attract visitors from all over the world and bring the cities of Europe even closer together through twinning projects and joint events. In 2017, for instance, a kind of street art festival was held in Kaunas, where Berlin artists skillfully painted numerous buildings in the city with graffiti. These works of art can still be seen on the façades of the buildings in Kaunas.
One building that simply has to be seen during a visit to Kaunas is the serene Pažaislis Monastery. The adjoining baroque church, built in 1664, is one of the most beautiful in the country. Fans of architecture will definitely get their money's worth here.
One particular cultural treasure is the so-called Devil's Museum*. It houses around 3,000 sculptures and carvings of devils. The heads of Hitler and Stalin are modelled as the devil, for example, performing the dance of the dead. Anyone looking for a day trip with a difference will be in the right place here.
Lithuania's second-largest city is also very famous for its textile art. The textile industry has always been an important economic sector in the region around Kaunas and is evident today in the city's galleries and especially during the textile art biennial, which is held every other year and now attracts international art lovers and prospective buyers.
Just a two-hour drive north of Kaunas is the world-famous "Hill of Crosses" in the city of Šiauliai. The legend of the genesis of the hill, which is crammed full of crosses, dates back some 300 years. After the Second World War, the hill then became a memorial site for fallen soldiers and people who were deported. Under the occupation of the Soviets, several attempts were made to destroy the crosses, but the proud Lithuanians kept on rebuilding the hill. It is a wonderful place to visit with a story that deserves to be told.
Lithuania also has plenty to offer sports fans. The national sport is basketball and the Lithuanian teams are very successful. BC Žalgiris was Soviet champion on three occasions in the 1980s and the national team also achieved success in the 1990s, reaching the semi-final of the Olympic Games in 1992, for example. It is definitely worth paying a visit to the Žalgiris Arena in Kaunas to watch a Euroleague game. Even if you are not really a basketball fan, the atmosphere during the game is sensational.
If you are a tourist in Kaunas, you shouldn't miss the city's culinary variety. We have put together a list of some tasty places for you to discover:
The modern atmosphere of the MOMO Grill is perfect for steakhouse fans. It serves a hearty breakfast as well as steak in all its various forms.
Anyone who wants to try European cuisine with a Lithuanian twist will find everything the heart desires at Avilys. It serves pretty much everything from beer-braised loin of veal with porcini mushrooms to turkey breast in blackberry and red wine sauce. One particular specialty is the beer, which is brewed with honey.
Our third recommendation is the Peledine, which is renowned for its breathtaking burgers. There are classic burger menus here for all burger fans and those who aspire to becoming one.
A tour of the bars of Kaunas is also worthwhile. Cocktail fans should head for Baras Kamerinis, a modern, laid-back bar that serves elaborately mixed cocktails to suit every taste.
Beer fans may prefer to go to Vingiu Dubingiu Alude, a great place for sampling and enjoying a wide range of beers.
Hotel: Daugirdas Hotel
It goes without saying that we also have a hotel recommendation for you. You can make yourself at home at the Daugirdas Hotel in the heart of the city, right by the River Neman. Highlights include the central location and the roof terrace, which affords a great view of the old town.
Hot spot: Church of Christ's Resurrection
Those who wish to saunter around Kaunas like a real local should definitely head for the roof terrace of the Church of Christ's Resurrection. The view of the entire city is spectacular.
Also worth seeing is the part of the city where the Rivers Neman and Neris converge. It is a wonderful spot for whiling away a sunny day.
Hot spot: the heart of the old town
Kaunas is the perfect haven for visitors who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Vilnius. The heart of the old town, the countless activities for young and old alike, the hospitality, the architecture, and the clash of the modern and baroque eras make the region a unique destination. It has a charm all of its own and reflects the national character of the country through its eventful history. You have to see Kaunas for yourself to capture and absorb the spirit of the city.