Kaunas is settled in central Lithuania on the confluence of Neminas and Neris, two biggest rivers in Lithuania. The settlement is first mentioned in 1361.
There was a masonry castle built here in XIII century, to protect local people form crusaders. There are the ruins of the castle, remained until our days.
In 1408 Kaunas was granted the city rights. In 1441 Hanza merchants opened here the office. In XVI a. the school, public hospital and pharmacy was opened in Kaunas.
Kaunas was ravaged during Russian attacs in 1665, Swede march to Russia in 1707, two plague epidemics in 1657 and 1708, and during two big fires in 1731 and 1732. During 1812 year war, Napoleon army was crossing the river Nemunas in Kaunas. In war city was ravaged 2 times.
When Russians occupied Vilnius in 1919, the Cabinet of Ministers and State Council, other state institutions. In 1920 Poland occupied Vilnius again, so Kaunas became provisional capital of Lithuania and the most important city in Lithuania. During the independence period, Kaunas grew and developed, industry prospered. Many buildings were reconstructed, new building were built, some of them now are very important monuments of architecture.
In 1924 buses started to run in city, in 1928 the urban water supply was arranged.
After the Second World War Vilnius recovered the capital title and Kaunas became the second biggest city of Lithuania by size and number of inhabitants. City was destroyed during the war and rebuilt, but the soviets demolished everything, that was related to Lithuanian independence.
One of the most known protests against soviets in Lithuania took place in Kaunas. Romas Kalanta burned himself down in the center of Kaunas, in front of the Musical theatre.
Legend about Kaunas
During a hunt, Lithuanians chased the king of Lithuanian woods – aurochs (the European bison) to the backwoods and killed it at the confluence of Nemunas and Neris. But then hunters noticed, that in between the horns of dead animal is the cross, made of wood branches. So they startleyd and sacrified the animal to the gods by burning him down. And now Kaunas stands in this place and it has the king of woods with the cross on this horns in the coat of arms.
Origin of the name
Nobody really knows, were do the name Kaunas comes from. There are a few versions.
The primary meaning of word Kaunas could be deep, low. Root kaun- could come from Indo-European root kau – (deep and low).
Last version is saying that the name Kaunas came from the family name, which can be found even in our days. Kaunas might be the ruler of local people.
Sometimes name Kaunas is related to the word “Kautis” (to fight)