Embrace the cultural and religious context of the Land of St. Mary. Set in the centre of the country and well accessible from both the capital Vilnius and Lithuania’s Baltic seashore, Kaunas is the country’s second largest city and its national hub. It served as the capital of Lithuania between the World Wars, and as an anti-regime citadel during the 50 years of Lithuania’s Soviet occupation. Originally a medieval settlement, Kaunas retained a cosy old town area alive with universities, restaurants, pubs and locals enjoying a leisurely stroll or a bicycle ride at a day’s end.
Take a sightseeing tour of the old town, featuring castle ruins and the Church of St. George, situated at a beautiful meeting point of two rivers, Nemunas and Neris. Walk to the Town Hall Square to take in the Jesuit Church and the Seminary of Priests, the Gothic Cathedral Basilica, the nearby Perkūnas House and Church of Vytautas the Great. Hop on a vintage funicular for a lift up the Aleksotas hill to take in panoramic views of the small but picturesque old town and enjoy a locally sourced lunch at Medžiotojų Užeiga (The Hunters‘ Inn), famous for delicacies foraged in the country’s bountiful dense forests, a pastime and a trade still very much alive to this day.
Monuments of the New Town bear legacy of the country’s independence - the Eternal Flame, the Statue of Freedom and, at the bottom of Freedom Avenue, the memorial to Romas Kalanta, a 19 year old who set himself ablaze in protest against the foreign Soviet rule in 1970’s, sparking up an independence movement that was to break out in song and crumble the Soviet Union in early 1990’s. The most astounding history of all is that of the modern Christ’s Resurrection church atop Žaliakalnis hill, a monument funded by donations of the faithful that was brutally turned into a radio electronics factory by the Soviet regime and today serves as a symbol of the nation’s regained independence and spiritual revival.
If you’re travelling to or from Vilnius, be sure to take a stop en-route to admire the charming grounds of Pažaislis Camaldolese Monastery, located about 10km outside Kaunas city centre. Resting gracefully amidst a lake and forest park and renowned for its elegant baroque architecture and miraculous painting of Mary Belle Mother and Child, the monastery is run by St. Casimir nuns who will gladly show you around. If you’re lucky enough to visit in the summer, you might get to attend one of the classical concerts held here as part of Pažaislis Music Festival. The ambience is sublime and the exquisite restaurant Monte Pacis, located on the grounds, serves dainty dinners worth an overnight stay.
The geographic location of Kaunas makes it a perfect stopover spot en route from Vilnius to the Hill of Crosses and the shrines of Šiluva, Tytuvėnai and Žemaičių Kalvarija as part of St. John Paul II Pilgrimage Route. It also makes for an excellent day trip destination if you’re only in Vilnius on a short Divine Mercy pilgrimage. Just an hour’s drive from the capital, it provides an opportunity to gain more insight into the cultural and religious context of the country. The magical insular castle of Trakai is also on the way.
For additional information, please call one of our Pilgrimage Specialists:
- Currency: Euro (€, EUR)
- Local time: GMT +2 hours
- Airports: Vilnius (VNO) / Kaunas (KUN)
- Flight duration: 2 hours 50 minutes approximately
- Transfer time: 15 minutes from Vilnius (VNO) airport / 30 minutes from Kaunas (KUN) airport
- Languages: Lithuanian; many people speak English
- Climate: Typical European continental influenced climate with warm, dry summers and fairly severe winters; Best time to travel is mid -April to mid-October, when the days are warm and the nights are cool
- Voltage: 230V A/C, sockets outlets and sockets Type C 2 pin and Type F 2 pin are used
- Visa: not required for EU citizens; non-EU citizens are advised to check with the relevant authorities
- Passport: EU passport holders travelling to Lithuania must have an up-to-date passport valid for travel three months beyond the date of return; non-EU citizens are advised to check with the relevant authorities