Kaunas Castle (Kauno pilis) – the oldest in Lithuania
Kaunas Castle or Kaunas Castle (Kauno pilis) is one of the oldest brick castles in Lithuania and is a well-known landmark and jewel of Kaunas.
Kaunas Castle is one of the oldest of its kind in Lithuania.
The castle was first mentioned in written sources in 1361.
The site of the castle was not chosen by chance: it was of strategic importance at the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris (Neris, Vilia). The castle was built as a stronghold in the defense against the Teutonic Order. During the history the castle was repeatedly restored and expanded. Moreover, Grand Duke Jagaila of Lithuania used to live in the castle during his travels in the country.
The current castle structure dates from around 1368, although much of it has been destroyed and much has been added over the centuries.
In addition to the castle itself, there was also a brick defensive wall of the city of Kaunas with brick defensive towers. Only the remains of the walls and the Mill Tower (Malūnininko bokštas) have survived.
At present the fragments of the Kaunas castle with a part of the wall and tower have been restored, and a new wooden bridge over the former protective moat has been built.
On a part of the castle territory there is a park Santakos (Santakos parkas) and a functioning museum with exhibitions of the castle’s history.
Stairs to the tower, which you can climb and view the surroundings from a height.
Part of the surviving defense wall. This wall used to surround the whole area of Kaunas castle.
Fragment of the wall. In ancient times soldiers defending the castle from enemy attack lay under the sloping roof, with only the tips of their rifles stuck in the hole between the roof and the wall. This construction provided good protection against enemy bullets.
Earlier the castle was surrounded by a moat on all sides, which can still be seen today.
Inside Kaunas Castle there are several floors of exhibits, from atmospheric dungeons to a few intriguing artifacts at the top of a long stone spiral staircase.
Kaunas Castle regularly hosts concerts and events during the summer season, which are free to attend.
Near the castle is the Church of St. George and the Bernardine Monastery. They are separated from the castle by a former moat and road.
Near the castle there is a square with parking lots.
In the center of the square stands a large monument – rather bizarrely shaped, but typical of the Lithuanian masters.
The parking lot is connected to the territory of Kaunas Castle by a wooden bridge.
Green meadow, river and playground on the territory and near the castle.
Address of Kaunas CastleAddress: Pilies g. 17, Kaunas 44275, Lithuania.
Kaunas Castle coordinates: 54°53’56.0 “N 23°53’06.0 “E (54.898889, 23.885000).
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September 1-31 May: Fri-Fri 10:00-18:00, Sat 10:00-17:00. June 1-August 31: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00, Thu 10:00-16:00. Closed: Mon, Holidays, March 11 and July 6, every last Tuesday of the month from 10 to 12 pm (inspection day).
Kaunas Castle is considered one of the oldest stone buildings in Lithuania. According to the evidence of historians its construction dates back to approximately the middle of the XIII century. The castle is located in the city of Kaunas, at a strategically important location where the Nemunas and Neris Rivers meet. A small part of the castle – a wall and two towers – has been preserved and restored to this day. Kaunas Castle and its buildings are included in the Register of Cultural Property of the Republic of Lithuania and are protected by the state.
History of Kaunas Castle
Kaunas Castle was first mentioned in 1361. Its description was made after a reconnaissance expedition of crusaders led by Wiegand von Marburg. At that time the castle was protected by double fortifications, and the main fortress walls were at a distance of 18 to 30 meters around the castle walls. At that time there were no towers on the castle grounds and the outer sides of the walls were finished with a 2-metre long strip of red brick.
In 1362 Kaunas castle was besieged and destroyed by the Teutonic Knights. At the beginning of the XV century the castle was rebuilt by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vitovt, at the same time massive corner four-tiered towers were added to it. At that time the castle walls were 9 to 10 meters high and about 3.5 meters thick. The ceilings in the castle were made of wood, and there was a deep protective moat around the territory.
The famous battle of Grunwald took place in 1410, after which the Kaunas castle was no longer needed as a strategic defensive structure. At that time, Prince Vitovt sometimes lived in the castle and received guests there as well. After his death Kaunas Castle was used as a residence of the head of Kaunas and was home to various administrative institutions. In the 16th century the castle even served as a prison. In the middle of the XVI century one of the towers of Kaunas castle located on its south-western side was surrounded by a barbican. It was one of the last fortifications of the defensive part of the structure. At that time the Livonian War was taking place in Lithuania. A hundred years later, in the first half of the 17th century, the Neris River destroyed the northern wall of the castle; then in 1611 one of the towers of the castle fell down, and a couple of decades later the entire northern part of the castle was washed away. In the nineteenth century, the land of the Kaunas castle was divided into small parts and sold. In 870, permission was granted to take masonry for the construction of new roads and city streets, after which the ruins of the castle were very badly damaged.
In 1924, archaeological research began on the territory of Kaunas Castle; in 1930-1932, the castle environs were cleared and wooden structures were destroyed. In 1965, a museum of the same name “Kaunas Castle” was opened here, which is a branch of the Kaunas State Historical Museum. Today the roof of the castle was restored and the tourist information center operates in the tower.
The oldest historical object in the city, Kaunas Castle, hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions. One of the most popular exhibitions is called “Mosaic History of Kaunas Castle” and “A Touch of 17th Century Kaunas: From Glazed Tile to Ceramic Fragment”. The exhibitions present the most important historical facts and personalities, metamorphoses of the castle and changes in its functions from the 14th century to the present day. The exhibitions are held in five parts of the castle tower. They appeal both to visitors looking for historical facts and authentic exhibits as well as to those who enjoy entertainment.
The most important historical facts about Kaunas Castle are presented on the first floor of the castle tower along with images of the castle from different times, authentic and reproduced exhibits that testify to the castle’s defensive and other functions. Here you can also see an animated siege of the castle from 1362 and a three-dimensional rendering of reconstructions of the castle from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. There are also artefacts displayed in archaeological showcases on the first floor, they were collected during the research of Kaunas Castle under the supervision of Jalnerius and consist of crossbows and ballistic arrowheads, axes, and fragments of ceramic objects, which were found in the cultural layer of 1362, dedicated to the siege of the castle.
In the stylized castle prison every visitor will be able to try out medieval chains and take pictures chained to a disgrace belt, which was used in Western Europe from the 16th to 19th centuries to punish criminals. The exhibit is accompanied by the impressive sounds of clanking weapons, neighing horses and many others.
The castle’s defensive functions are highlighted in an exhibition dedicated to the capture of the Bastille, starting with the famous defense of the castle led by Duke Vaidotas in 1362 and ending with various legends. Here you can play with the night hologram “Rikis”, which repeats all the movements of the audience and is a favorite of the youngest visitors of the castle.
At the exhibition located on the second floor of the castle tower you can see a stylized trial version of Kaunas Castle and look at some reconstructed accessories of that time, feeling like an old Kaunas resident.
At the exhibition “Touch 17th-Century Kaunas: From Glazed Tiles to Ceramic Fragments” on the third floor of the castle tower you can see examples of reconstructed 18th-century stone items: pots, bowls, and pans. The glazed tiles found in the basement of the building at Daugirdo, 2/Rotušės 9 are 18 fragments of glazed and unglazed tiles (5 different ornaments were reconstructed), fragments of cornices and frieze and fully preserved tiles. Here you can try yourself as an archeologist, finding the necessary tile fragment.
Excursions: attractions and prices
In the territory of Kaunas Castle there are many different excursions and activities of interest to both children and adults.
Kaunas Castle Treasures
According to legends, a treasure is hidden in Kaunas Castle, but so far no one has been able to find it. During this tour, visitors will get acquainted with the old princes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, hear unusual stories about Kaunas from the elders and guests of the city. And clues in the stories will help to find and open a real treasure chest.
Excursion is available in English and Russian, for groups of schoolchildren from 4 to 30 people, duration – 60 minutes, price – 2 euros per person.
Kaunas Castle: Quiz
After learning many interesting facts about the past of the castle in the tour “History of Kaunas Castle Mosaics”, you can participate in a team quiz. Here the winner is the team.
Quiz is available in English, held for groups of schoolchildren from 4 to 30 people, duration – 60 minutes, price – 2 euros per person.
Archers of Kaunas Castle
Several hundred archers defended Kaunas Castle from Crusader attacks in the Middle Ages. This tour invites you to become one of them and explore the characteristics of a medieval warrior. During the event you will learn about the history of Kaunas Castle, its defense methods, the principles of medieval hunting and warfare, and the arsenal of the time. All participants will have the opportunity to try out a bow and crossbow in a shooting tournament. The tour is available from May to September in English and Russian, is for groups of schoolchildren from 4 to 12 people, lasts 60 minutes and costs 2 euros per person.
Old Lithuanian games
In Kaunas Castle you can also get acquainted with the toys and games played in old Lithuania, after which each visitor will have the opportunity to play the board game Alquerque, which was once played by monarchs, and try some of the sports games that ancient Lithuanians might have played. in their free time.
Games are in English and Russian, from May to September, for groups of schoolchildren from 4 to 15 people, duration – 60 minutes, price – 2 euros per person.
At this event, participants will learn about the archaeological finds from the 15th-17th centuries found in Kaunas Old Town and will see the beautiful tile stoves that were used by residents, noblemen and rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Later, during the master class, everyone will have an opportunity to try his or her hand at medieval craftsmanship and mold a fragment of a tiled stove from clay.
The event is organised in English and Russian for groups of 4-25 pupils, lasts 60 minutes and costs 2€ per person.
On this tour you can learn the history of Kaunas Castle and then take part in a ceramics workshop and make a souvenir medal with the image of Kaunas Castle.
The workshop is conducted in English and Russian, for groups from 4 to 25 people, its duration is 60 minutes, the cost is 1 euro per person for preschool children, 2 euro per person for schoolchildren.
Mosaic of the history of Kaunas Castle
Kaunas Castle is the oldest stone castle in Lithuania, older than even Kaunas itself. The castle stood strong when the country was defending itself against crusaders, and also served as a place to welcome noblemen, foreign emissaries and other honored guests. On this tour, the colorful history of Kaunas Castle is laid out as a mosaic of different periods.
The tour is conducted in English or Russian for groups of up to 30 people, its duration is 45 minutes, the price is 6 euros per person.
How to get to Kaunas Castle in Lithuania
The nearest Kaunas public transport stop to the castle has the same name – Kauno pilis. Buses No. 20, 21, 22, 23, 27G, 31, 31A, 35A, 37, 39, 40, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 57G as well as trolleybuses No. 1, 2, 5, 10, 14, 15 , and route cabs No. 57 pass here.
You can get to Kaunas Castle by cabs: A&G, Taksi Kaune, Diva Taksi, OptiTAXI Kaune, JSC “City Taxi”, UAB Einesa, Vyto taksi, Taksi greiciau, Zaibiskas greitis, Einesa and many others.