Kaunas

Kaunas is the second largest town in Lithuania with 400,000 inhabitants. Kaunas is famous for its historic city centre. The town is situated on the main highway "Via Baltica" (E 67) Warsaw-Riga-Helsinki. Geographically Kaunas is situated at the junction of two largest Lithuanian rivers - Nemunas and Neris. Kaunas was sometimes seen with its Russian name Kovno.

History

At the place of current Kaunas oldtown, at confluence of two large rivers, people lived already 10th century BC. The town was first mentioned in written sources in 1361. In 13th century stone wall was built to protect from constant Teutonic Knights attacks. At 1408 the town was provided with Magdeburg Rights. Then Kaunas started to grow, as an important city at trade route intersections and river port. In 1441 Kaunas signed Hansa treaty and had Hansa merchant office opened. Already in 16th century Kaunas had public school, hospital, drugstore and was one of best formed towns in Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The 17th and 18th centuries were unfortunate for Kaunas. In 1665 Russian army attacked the city several times. In 1701 city hosted Swedish army, plagues in 1657 and 1708, fires in 1731 and 1732. At 1812 war army of Napoleon was crossing Nemunas, so the city was devastated too times during same year.

In 1862 a railway connecting Russian empire and Germany was constructed, making Kaunas a significant railway hub. In 1898 first power plant started its operation. After Vilnius was occupied by Russians in 1919, government of Republic of Lithuania established its main offices here. As Vilnius was occupied by Poland breaking Suvalkai treaty in 1920, Kaunas became temporary capital of Lithuania.

Between the World Wars Kaunas industry prospered, it was largest city of Lithuania, though, after regaining Vilnius it became second largest. After Second World War the city was ravaged a lot. During occupation of Soviet Union it was restored and became main industrial city of Lithuania - it produced about a quarter of Lithuanian industrial output those years. Trolleybuses started to operate in 1966.

After regaining Lithuanian independence in 1991 the TV and radio retranslators in Sitkunai during Soviet aggression were the critical part of remaining free media and people were on duty to protect them, willing to sacrifice their lifes.


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