An essential guide to the street art of Kaunas, Lithuania

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Kaunas Street Art

Don’t equate ‘second city’ with ‘second rate’. There are cities in Europe like Barcelona and Milan that may not be national capitals but are equally vibrant and exciting. Among such cities, Kaunas of Lithuania finds its place, never falling in the shadow of the national capital, Vilnius. It has even worn the crown of a European Capital of Culture in 2022. Filled with a charming old town, delectable cuisine, bustling bars, and a lively street art scene, Kaunas is a perfect weekend getaway. Here’s a curated guide to its breathtaking murals that lead you through the heart of the city.

  1. Tribute to the Wisdom

In Kaunas’s Old Town, you will come across the iconic landmark, the ‘Wise Old Man.’ This massive mural gracing the entire side of a former shoe factory on the verdant Jonavos street is hard to miss. The colossal figure depicted, sporting a red bodysuit and smoking a pipe larger than his head, is Jurgis Maciunas – a renowned artist from Kaunas who introduced Lithuanian modern art to the global stage in the mid-20th century. He would have been familiar with the nearby streets and structures, including the Kaunas Castle, which lies opposite to this grand mural.

  1. A Gaze at the Colorful Walls

The Old Town and the castle reside at the convergence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers, home to several historical sites, such as the 15th-century Cathedral Basilica. Heading east into the New Town, you’ll discover the Yard Gallery (Kiemo Galerija) located in a residential courtyard off E. Ožeškienės street. This vibrant art installation was the brainchild of local artist Vytenis Jakas, who decided to enliven the walls of his apartment building. The unique mix of murals here certainly attests to his success.

  1. Starry Mischief

Venture east on the K. Donelaičio street, and you’ll find a playful example of street art in the garden of the Vytautas, the Great War Museum. A novel idea by contemporary artist Morfai, a classical sculpture by Bernardas Bučas appears to be spreading stars daubed on the wall behind it. The piece emerges fully after sundown, showcasing the city’s balance between tradition and modernity.

  1. Feminine Grace

Not far off on the K. Donelaičio street, within the courtyard of Kaunas University of Technology, resides another impressive mural. Created by Lithuanian muralist Linas Kaziulionis, ‘Contemporary Ladies’ infuses the present with the past. It features two females from Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic paintings (‘La Belle Ferronnière’ and ‘Lady with an Ermine’), reimagined as modern women donning headphones.

  1. A Chronicle on Walls

A short stroll south from K. Donelaičio street leads you to Laisvės alėja (Liberty Avenue), a tree-flanked boulevard spanning the center of Kaunas. However, halt at S. Daukanto street 28 before you reach it, where another mural narrates a story. This piece, painted on the side of a Lithuanian National Radio studio, was commissioned for the institution’s 90th birthday in 2016. Created by artist Tadas Vincaitis, it illustrates nine decades of Kaunas’s history, depicting both strife and hope.

The UK to Kaunas flight duration is roughly two and a half hours, with direct flights available from Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London Luton, and Stansted. For more details, visit visit.kaunas.lt/en. To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, click here (Available in select countries only).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Kaunas Street Art

Q: What makes Kaunas a great destination for street art enthusiasts?

A: Kaunas offers a vibrant street art scene that beautifully showcases the city’s cultural side. From massive murals depicting influential artists to creative installations blending history and modernity, Kaunas’s street art scene is a visual delight for enthusiasts.

Q: Where can I find the famous ‘Wise Old Man’ mural in Kaunas?

A: The ‘Wise Old Man’ mural can be found in the Old Town of Kaunas, specifically on Jonavos street. It covers the entire side of a former shoe factory and pays tribute to the influential artist Jurgis Maciunas.

Q: Are there other notable street art spots in Kaunas?

A: Absolutely! Kaunas has numerous spots that showcase impressive street art. Some notable locations include the Yard Gallery off E. Ožeškienės street, the Great War Museum garden, the courtyard of Kaunas University of Technology, and S. Daukanto street, among others.

Q: How can I plan a trip to Kaunas to explore its street art scene?

A: To plan a trip to Kaunas, you can find direct flights from various cities in the UK, such as Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London Luton, and Stansted. For more detailed information and assistance, you can visit the official website visit.kaunas.lt/en.

Q: Can I learn more about Kaunas’s history and culture through its street art?

A: Absolutely! Kaunas’s street art not only adds a vibrant aesthetic to the city but also serves as a visual representation of its history and culture. Many murals and installations incorporate elements from Kaunas’s past, creating a unique blend of art and heritage.

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