We had been told by several Lithuanians that the Old Town in Kaunas was quite different than that in Vilnius – older, more intact, more medieval, just “different” – and it is! The stone streets are extremely bumpy and uneven, with some areas sinking in, feeling like they have been there for centuries. Buildings have both Dutch and German ornamentation. There are lots of flowers everywhere, and naturally, lots of churches. The city was founded at the confluence of the Neris and Neman Rivers. Jan’s maternal grandfather was born here in 1889, and left with his father for the US in 1900, so we wondered if he had walked on the same streets and would recognize the older buildings if he were still alive. It is a good feeling to think of sharing those memories of the past in the present day.
The churches! First up is the Kaunas Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, first mentioned in the year 1413. It doesn’t look like there is room for one more statue or one more speck of gold….quite a feast for the eyes! The second photo is of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Church of Vytautus the Great, consecrated in the year 1400, and an important example of classic Gothic architecture in Lithuania. The third photo is St. Francis Xavier Church, dating to 1722, and a stone’s throw away across Town Hall Square from the cathedral! Its spires are the ones you see in subsequent photos of the Old Town.
The fourth church is St. Michael the Archangel, dating to 1895. Built as an Orthodox Church, during the Soviet years it was used as an art gallery, and today it is a Roman Catholic Church. It is at the beginning – or end – of a very long pedestrian walkway, some of which is presently under construction. The walkway (and church) can be seen below in the photos from around town. The fifth photo is not a church, but is Kaunas City Hall, known as “the white swan,” set in between two of the Old Town churches!
Following Town Hall is a gorgeous Gothic brick building, Perkunas House. Read the description in the following photo as to the house’s importance. After that is a courtyard at the College of St. Ignatius of Loyola with beautiful, unusual planters backed up by Angels’ Trumpet flowers, followed by several photos from around the city, including some of the flowers along our route. The weather alternated between very dark and cloudy and sunshine! It finally rained as we walked back to our hotel, but alternated all day long.
There is a photo of the Neman River with the sentiment, “Together, We Love Kaunas.” That is followed by…???…we don’t know! It is a large stone with a wheel on one side, sitting on a corner in Old Town. Several people had gathered around, asking what it was. There was no sign and no information we could find on the internet, so we are not sure. Following that is a photo that looks mighty strange. Can you guess what it is? Black coconut ice cream with raspberry sauce and berries! It tasted great…lots of coconut, but made our lips and tongues black for a few hours. We end with – ahem – a famous Shakespeare quotation. You surely will recognize it.