Welcome to Kaunas
Kaunas is a city rich in history – not only in terms of hundreds of years but also in the different eras that left indelible marks in the urban face and body. The old town, for example, is still full of the Hanseatic spirit, while downtown Kaunas and Žaliakalnis are full of fantastic modernist architecture examples.
Kaunas was first mentioned in 1361 and was granted Magdeburg rights soon after that. The full Christianisation of Lithuania occurred soon after, in 1387, but the history of our country dates back much further. Even further than 1009, when Lithuania, a polytheistic land full of gods of nature, was first mentioned in connection with the murder of a Christian missionary, St Bruno, at the border of Lithuania and Ruthenia.
Kaunas in 1441 joined the commercial and defensive confederation also known as the Hanseatic League. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania later joined Poland to be one republic and, in the late 18th century, became part of the Russian empire. Our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1918; Two years later, the capital had to be relocated to Kaunas as Vilnius was occupied by Poland. In the turmoil of World War II, the country was occupied by the Soviets, then Nazis, and then Soviets again, and the latter remained until 1990 when we restored our independence and were the first crack in the fragile construction of the Soviet Union. Years later some wounds of occupation have of course not healed, but we are working our way towards the goal and are generally a happy nation and a happy city.