Kėdainiai

Kėdainiai is one of the oldest Lithuanian cities located in the very center of Lithuania. Famous for cucumber cultivation, a few  charismatic local public characters, and its exceptional Old town Kėdainiai city is declared to be a meaningful center of Lithuanian industry and transit. In the territory of 25,5 square kilometers more than 35 000 inhabitants create a colorful daily life here.

History

The story of Kėdainiai city began in the 14th century  when in 1372 Kėdainiai name was mentioned in written sources for the first time. According to historical sources, the settlement of Kėdainiai formed from small fishermen and cultivators village. Kėdainiai started growing significantly in the 15th century.

It was considered to be an important trading center then. German Hanza merchants liked the town a lot as it was easy reachable and pretty rich. The same 15th century was fateful for the city as it then accrued to Radvilai family. Soon the estate and the first Gothic church of St. Jurgis were built up here, the market place was opened, cultural and educational segments were developed. Permanently growing settlement even became the center of Žemaitija region for a particular period. In the 16th century Kiškos family started ruling the city. Kėdainiai became one of the first focus centers of reformation in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania then. Flourishing of cultural and economical life in Kėdainiai reached the top in the 17th century, before the war with Sweden and Russia. However, wars, wastes and foreign introducers damaged the former glory of Kėdainiai city. Despite the fact that Kėdainiai never reached the former economical level, local inhabitants also never gave up trying to develop the situation.  Kėdainiai resounded as a city of many cultures, crafts and nations. Favourable tax system attracted new talented people to settle here and create the surplus for Kėdainiai city. The world famous Jew Gaon Elijahu (1720-1797) was living and learning here. In the 19th century Polish culture influenced the daily life there a lot. In addition, Jews began the cucumber industry here then, which is alive till nowadays. Beginning of the 20th century was not successful for Kėdainiai as it faced several big fires then. Luckily, these fires did not destroy so many historic architectural monuments of the city built here in 17th – 19th centuries. During the years of independence, many modern building were built there: hospital, bank, schools, museum, printing house, library…  Kėdainiai renewed its appearance. However, the sinister Second World War destroyed the beauty of Kėdainiai. May people were killed, nay deported, retreating Germans burst new buildings, bridges, public institutions. Soviet industrialization and nationalzationed damaged the former Kėdainiai city face a lot. Many historical values were turned into objects of simple usage. Churches became storages and sport halls, unique historical squares became standard living blocks and so on. But as soon as Lithuania got back its independence, Kėdainiai woke up from the slack season.

Nowadays

Today Kėdainiai is an attractive city for both - inhabitants and tourists.  Educational system is well adjusted for children and grownups to gain a good background, manufacturing industry is well developed in chemical, alimentary, metallic and wood sectors.  Professional sport clubs (basketball, football) train professionals, active local news media works for people as a concentrated source of local news. Kėdainiai city has much to offer for tourists too. They even mark 10 reasons why Kėdainiai city must be visited.  First of all, Kėdainiai is proud to be one of 7 Lithuanian cities including an authentic Old town.  The beautiful Town Hall decorating the Old town is also mentioned as one of the reason to visit Kėdainiai. The third purpose for coming to Kėdainiai is the renaissance Church of Evangelical Reformats built by Radvila family in the glorious 17th century.  In addition, the complex of 4 former market squares is a remain of a unique Lithuanian 6 market square complex. Moreover, the only one in Lithuania minaret can be also seen in Kėdainiai. Devotional tourist might be interested in the Paberžė church where the famous father Stanislovas (1918 - 2005) used to work. Šeteniai village in Kėdainiai region is the motherland for word famous writer Czeslaw Milosz – visitors can visit the culture center opened here in honor of this talented writer. The other village named Ruoščiai owns the geographic center of Lithuania which is exceptionally marked here. The amazing dendrology park of Skinderiškės astonishes visitors not less than the best botanical gardens and finally, the view of natural white phosphor gypsum hills distinguish as a unique phenomenon in Lithuania. Nothing left to say, only to pack things and go to Kėdainiai.

Kėdainiai is a city always entertaining its guests. Number of activities, theme summer fests (where else could you participate in Cucumber fest?), well developed tourism infrastructure seems really appreciable. Do not miss a chance to visit the center of Lithuania – it will really surprise you.