One: Central Kaunas

On texture and tinted light in Old Town

The daylight over central Kaunas is gray and wet with winter. It falls, delicate as the snow of which it is sire, to the uneven Belgian block of Vilniaus gatvė. On this, the oldest street in the oldest part of the city, light and ice alike deliquesce and drain away into dingy puddles. The puddles reflect, like smudged mirrors among the setts, the intricate texture of the city’s center, one informed quite wonderfully by cohabiting architectural styles coated with an alluring patina of disrepair.

Vilniaus gatvė in Kaunas Old Town
The setts of Vilniaus gatvė
A cobblestone path in Old Town
Exposed brick on a building in Old Town.
A disused building in Old Town
Kaunas Castle: Built in the 14 century, Kaunas Castle sits at the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers. It is the origin of Kaunas, as it is the structure around which the rest of the was built.
The tower of Kaunas Castle.
Vytis, Lithuania’s national symbol, rides proudly outside Kaunas Castle
Vytautas the Great Church: the oldest church in Kaunas
The Vytautas the Great Church sits on the banks of the Nemunas. Also shown: one end of the Vytautas the Great Bridge
The Vytautas the Great Bridge spans the Nemunas and connects Old Town with Aleksotas, a borough of Kaunas.
The Vytautas the Great Bridge and the Nemunas River
The Nemunas River
A Statue of Jonas Vileišis (January 3, 1872 – June 1, 1942), a celebrated mayor who greatly expanded Kaunas and improved the lives of its citizens during his administration (1921-1931). Behind him stands the Kaunas town hall (aka, the White Swan).  

On lindens and leather along
Laisvės alėja

Dark and dormant lindens line the center of Laisvės alėja. The pedestrian avenue extends, like a long, exhaled breath in a lacuna between eras, from the edge of Old Town to the Neo-Byzantine eyes of St. Michael the Archangel, forming the very soul of New Town. Here, mortar cracks and crumbles from facades, exposing brick, and the light from street lamps can be traced in the polished shafts of a thousand leather boots, the winter-hardened heel of each one grinding grit into the walkways between stoic modernist structures.

Laisvės alėja at night
The new surface of Laisvės alėja: The avenue is in the process of renovation for when Kaunas becomes the European Capital of Culture in 2022.
The old surface of Laisvės alėja
St. Michael the Archangel Church, known locally as Soboras.
The northern aspect of St. Michael’s
The base of a column at St. Michael’s
St. Michael’s viewed from Gedimino gatvė
Kaunas State Musical Theatre

On street art, unsanctioned

From Old Town to New Town, no surface, it seems, is safe from graffiti. Indeed, central Kaunas is literally covered in it. Yet, much like Kaunas itself, the city’s unsanctioned street art is a mixture of messages ranging from the political to the purely artistic and whimsical. Though graffiti is, without a doubt, an undesirable element in the eyes of many, it possesses the peculiar power to transform surfaces meant to communicate only one message into bulletin boards that communicate many, thus making it, in a sense, the voice of citizens who may feel that they have none otherwise.

Graffiti in Old Town
On the back of the Museum of Exile and Resistance
Graffiti under the Vytautas the Great Bridge

9 thoughts on “One: Central Kaunas

  1. These pictures are stunning! I love the mix of close-up and landscape settings. I felt as if I were right there with you. I also enjoyed how you separated the pictures into different sections, almost like chapters. I look forward to seeing more of your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you have had a chance to explore and detail some of the wonders of Kaunas. You have an eye for photography and a way with words, telling a compelling story. Please send more!

    Liked by 1 person

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