The Twentieth Century Society

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Vilnius and Kaunas: A Tale of Two Cities
Vilnius and Kaunas
27/09/2018 - 30/09/2018
Vilnius Parliament Building


Vilnius and Kaunas: A Tale of Two Cities -  Lithuania Friday 28th - Sunday 30th September 2018 with optional day on Thursday 27th Sept


Led by: Joyce Glasser and Cela Selley with local guides

Our September 2018 tale of two cities, Vilnius and Kaunas, is also the story of two heroic capitals. From Vilnius’s famous old town, a Unesco World Heritage Site to its two Parliament Buildings - the 1950s Supreme Soviet and the 2008 wing symbolising an independent Lithuania - Vilnius’s architecture expresses the country’s history and aspirations. In January 1919 Kaunas – situated in the middle of the country 103 kilometres northwest of Vilnius, at the confluence of the country’s two largest rivers - was an unassuming, peripheral Russian town when Vilnius was invaded by the Bolsheviks and then annexed by Poland. 

Over the next two decades (1919-1939), as the fledgling government moved to Kaunas, architects and engineers, at first from Russia, and gradually of varied backgrounds and nationalities, cautiously at first, and by 1930, at full throttle, transformed Kaunas into Lithuania’s temporary capital. The building spree produced a Modernist European City, whose great architectural treasure is its interwar heritage dominated by the City’s distinctive style: international Rationalism. Despite the occasionally deleterious imprint of the Soviet period after 1945, and commercialisation after independence in 1990, Kaunas boasts a rich architectural heritage from all three major periods. 

Our tour commences with an optional day on Thursday, 27th, with a free morning/lunch time to explore the city’s many fascinating museums [a list will be provided] and a guided tour of the famous Old Town in the late afternoon. 

On Friday we will explore 20th  and 21st century Vilnius on foot beginning with a private tour of the Parliament building and learn about its fascinating history. We will be greeted by Arūnas Gelūnas, MP and former Minister of Culture who will accompany us on the Parliament tour. We will be seeing some 40 buildings, including the only early 20th century school in Vilnius from 1913 (late art nouveau style);  the 1952 Pergale cinema by Giovanni Rippa in a Socialist Realist Style; and the city’s first post-modernist apartment building from 1985 finished in white plaster to blend in with the old town.

On Saturday we will take a coach to Kaunas where we will spend a full day, with a group dinner in the evening, returning to Vilnius by coach after dinner. In Kaunas we will visit the iconic 1939 Sports Hall (1939) by Anatolijus Rozenbliumas and the "most beautiful facade of the year 1935", a modernist apartment house designed by Leiba Zimanas. The Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Šančiai, a rare example of a Modernist (1938) Church in Lithuania, built to blend in with a former Tsarist military district. The roof of the church was one of the first examples of thin-walled reinforced concrete shell structures in interwar Lithuania. We will walk through the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum complex, designed between 1929 and 1935 by architects Vladimiras Dubeneckis, Karolis Reisonas, and Kazimieras Kriščiukaitis and since extended. It is named after the synesthete symbolist and art nouveau painter and musical prodigy (1875-1911) who died in an insane asylum at age 35. We hope to gain access into the Kaunas Garrison Officer’s Club, whose imposing design features nationalistic symbolism and decorative folk motifs, with hand-crafted furniture  in the Presidential Chamber. We will be strolling down the residential Donelaitis Street and down V Putvinskis Street to see a variety of interwar apartment buildings (exteriors). If time permits we will take a ride up the 1931 Zaliakalnis funicular, with new wagons designed In 1937 by Lithuanian engineer N. Dobkevičius.

On Sunday, after loading our luggage into the coach, we will focus on public and private housing, finishing the tour at Vilnius International Airport, (a huge, Socialist Neo-Classicist and glass-heavy Postmodernist extension to the 1939s tri-partite structure) at 15:30 in time to catch the recommended flights back to the UK. 

Meet time/place: 2.45pm Thursday 27th September outside the main Tourist Information Office, Didžioji g. 31, Vilnius 01128, or 9.30am Friday 28th September outside the main Tourist Information Office, Didžioji g. 31, Vilnius 01128

Finish time/place: Vilnius airport at 4pm, for recommended departure flights.

Members’ price: £299      Non members:    £356

Travel suggestions:

Direct flights to Vilnius are from London airports and either early morning, or late evening. There are flights from London Luton at 1725, arriving 2205, or 1935 arriving 0015. The London Stansted flight departs at 1900 and arrives 2340. Alternatively there is a flight from London Luton at 0740 arriving at 1220. Vilnius airport is approximately 20 minutes from the city and there is a frequent train service or shuttle bus costing around 1 Euro. Taxis to the centre are around 10 to 15 euros.

On Sunday recommended return flights depart 1750 for London Luton and 1805 for London Stansted.
Please note that Vilnius does not have as many hotels as some other capital cities so we would recommend that you book early. September also tends to be the ‘conference season in Vilnius’ so major chains may also have large group bookings. The following hotels are centrally located and offer a range of rooms. One of the group organisers will be staying at the Real House B&B.


Radisson Blu  
T: +370 5 272 6272, D: +370 5 272 6200
M: +370 674 89801

Artis Centrum Hotels | UAB Centrum
Totorių g. 23 | LT-01120 Vilnius
M (+370) 6988 7712 | T (+370 5) 266 0369 | T (+370 5) 2660366 | F (+370 5) 266 0377 |
Imperial Hotel
Subačiaus g. 2, Vilnius 11302,
Tel.: +370 5 255 33 55
Imperial - IMPERIAL Hotel & Restaurant
Location Subačiaus str. 2, Vilnius LT-01127 E-mail: Phone: (+370 5)2553 355 Fax: (+370 5)2553 311

Shakespeare Boutique Hotel
Bernardinu str. 8, Vilnius LT-01124
Phone: +370 5 266 58 85
Fax: +370 5 266 58 86
Boutique hotel in Vilnius Old Town, Lithuania - Shakespeare
Shakespeare boutique hotel located in Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania offers unique themed rooms, reflecting life-stories of literary classics and enchants.

Real House B & B
Šiaulių g. 8, Vilnius 01133, Lithuania
Phone: +370 655 19160

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