Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sights in Kaunas (Part 1)

In my previous blog post I introduced you to Kaunas – second largest city in Lithuania. Today I will give you the list of the most interesting sights in Kaunas. All sights described in this article are in the old town and in the centre of Kaunas, so you can visit all of them in just a few hours and you can easily reach all of them on foot.
Kaunas Castle
Kaunas Castle was built in 14th century at the confluence of rivers Nemunas and Neris. It was the first stone castle in Lithuania and it is the oldest building in Kaunas now. This Gothic building helped to protect the town from Crusaders’ attacks.
Kaunas castle is in Papilio str. 17. Today tourism information center is located in Kaunas castle. You can visit exhibitions and buy souvenirs there.
Kaunas Castle

Town Hall
Town Hall’s construction began in 1542. This building with Gothic, Baroque and early Classicism elements is called the White Swan. Nowadays the Town Hall is the Wedding Hall, where marriages are registered. In the basement of the Town Hall Kaunas Ceramics museum is situated.
The address is Rotuses sq. 15.
Kaunas Town Hall

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter eggs and Easter traditions in Lithuania

The most important symbol of Easter in Lithuania is Easter eggs (marguciai). Painting, dyeing and decorating eggs is a tradition popular in Eastern European countries.  It is a very ancient custom. Although Easter is a Christian feast, the tradition of painting eggs is much older than Christianity.

The tradition of decorating eggs is still very alive in Lithuania. You can find Easter eggs in every home. I remember that dyeing eggs was very fun when I was a kid. It was so special to paint eggs together with all family members!

Easter eggs can be dyed in a single color or in patterns.

The most beautiful eggs are those painted with wax. A stick is dipped in hot wax and then patterns with the stick are painted on a warm egg. When the painting with wax is completed, the egg is dipped in dye. Later the egg is placed into hot water for wax to melt.

Easter eggs painted with wax

Easter eggs painted with wax

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Visit Kaunas - hearth of Lithuanian culture, tradition and history

Kaunas is situated in the center of Lithuania at the confluents of two largest Lithuanian rivers: Nemunas and Neris. It is 2nd largest city in Lithuania with 350,000 inhabitants. Kaunas is very Lithuanian city - 93% residents in Kaunas are Lithuanians. This city is often called the hearth of Lithuanian culture, tradition and history.

Confluence of Nemunas and Neris

The settlement here was first established between 4th - 5th centuries B.C. In 14th century Kaunas castle was built. But shortly the castle was destroyed by Teutonic Knights. It was rebuilt in the beginning of 15th century. At the time Kaunas became the major trade center in Lithuania. In 16th century it was one of the main towns in the country.

During centuries Kaunas was several times attacked by Russian and Swedish armies. In the end of 18th century the city was taken over by Russian Empire. Napoleon with his army passed through Kaunas twice devastating the city.

In 19th century two Uprisings against Russians took place in Kaunas. Russian authorities placed large military garrisons to suppress it.

After Vilnius was occupied by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1919 and captured by Poland in 1920, the government of Lithuania established its main base in Kaunas. Kaunas became temporary capital of Lithuania. Between World Wars Kaunas was a very modern city.

In 1940 Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1941-1944 Kaunas was occupied by Germans. On 1 August, 1944 Kaunas again became a part of Soviet Union and was in Soviet Union till 1990, when independence of Lithuania was restored.


Kaunas is famous for basketball. Very first official basketball game in Kaunas was held in 1922. Kaunas has  famous Zalgiris team and its NBA superstar Arvydas Sabonis.

Arvydas Sabonis

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Facts about suicides and crimes in Lithuania

Suicide in Lithuania is a huge problem. According to data from World Health Organization Lithuania is 1st in the world by the number of suicides. Total suicide rate per 100,000 people per year in Lithuania is 31,5 (58,5 for male and 8,8 for female). Suicide rate for men is the highest in the world in Lithuania, but by the number of women suicides Lithuania is in 11-12 place in the world.

Why Lithuanians commit suicides so often? Life is difficult in Lithuania: unemployment, alcoholism, poverty. Lithuanians also often have problems with mental health, but getting help is not easy. It is still considered a shame to go to psychiatrist or psychologist in Lithuania. Most people with mental health problems need long term psychotherapy. Lithuanian health care system does not provide it for free. And average Lithuanian cannot pay for therapy, because it is very expensive compared to our income.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lithuanians - educated nation!

In this blog post I will give you some interesting information about Lithuanians’ education. Statistics show that we are very educated! 

In Lithuania almost everyone enters a university, some other higher education institution or college after finishing school. Only 7% of 18-24 years old people do not study anywhere after finishing school in Lithuania. The average of EU (European Union) is 15%. The number of universities in Lithuania is very high for such a small country.  Lithuania is 1st in EU by the number of university graduates each year! 30% of Lithuanians (25-64 years old) have university degree. It is more than the average of EU!

Is it good for Lithuanians that almost everyone can get university degree? Not really… University degree is not such valuable as it should be. Someone of important people (I don’t remember who) working in Vilnius university once publicly said that in Lithuania even idiot can get a university degree…

Monday, April 4, 2011

Surveys show Lithuanian children are unhappiest in Europe

When I started looking for interesting facts about Lithuania, I was actually surprised how much negative information I found. I knew economy in Lithuania was bad and I knew Lithuanians had problems with mental health. But some statistics really scared me… As I mentioned in my previous blog post Lithuanians are pessimistic people and I believe that in some surveys they say situation is worse than it really is. I hope I will not scare you off coming to Lithuania with all this negative information. I can assure you that Lithuania is a very interesting country worth visiting. Maybe it is not the best place on Earth to live, but really great place to travel.

Today I will give you some interesting information about Lithuanian children:

Taunting in Lithuanian schools is a huge problem. 27% of schoolchildren say they suffer from taunting and insulting 2-3 times a month or more frequently. I finished secondary school 8 years ago. And I remember that taunting was really a problem. But I am not sure that situation in other countries are much better. I have never been to USA, but what I see in American TV series and movies makes me believe that in USA it should be even worse. Or is it just on TV but not in reality? Anyway, I am sure that being popular at school is not as important in Lithuania as it is in USA.

Surveys show that schoolchildren in Lithuania feel unhappier than children in any other European country.