Accommodation time capsule and “devil” museum: discovering the European capital of culture Kaunas

There is a crystal perfume bottle on the dressing table in every room at Villa Grabyte in Kaunas, Lithuania.

An information sheet, placed next to one of the bottles, explains that the liquid inside has notes of white lilac, old wooden furniture and heavy books.

The villa owners had it created to imitate the scents that were made in Lithuania during the interwar period (1918 to 1940) and vaping it is just one of the ways guests can enjoy themselves. immerse in this period when staying at the property.

Pictured is the living room of Villa Grabyte, a guest house designed to give visitors the impression of living in the interwar period (1918 to 1940). In the background of the photo you can see the wireless replica which allows guests to listen to period music.

Pictured is an apartment from the 1970s where you can stay in Kaunas.  It comes with a Soviet-era ¿Chaika¿ vacuum cleaner and a record player that lets you listen to Soviet-era records

Pictured is an apartment from the 1970s where you can stay in Kaunas. It comes with a Soviet-era “Chaika” vacuum cleaner and a record player that lets you listen to Soviet-era records.

This photo shows the perfume provided to guests of Villa Grabyte.  The owners of the villa had it created to imitate the perfumes that were made in Lithuania during the interwar period

This photo shows the perfume provided to guests of Villa Grabyte. The owners of the villa had it created to imitate the perfumes that were made in Lithuania during the interwar period

When they open the wardrobes they find inter-war style clothes they can try on and when they relax in the living room they can listen to the music of the era on the wireless replica.

Villa Grabyte is not the only immersive accommodation option available in Kaunas.

Elsewhere in town, you can stay in a 1970s apartment equipped with a Soviet-era “Chaika” vacuum cleaner and a record player that lets you play Soviet-era records.

Experiences like this are what characterize a visit to Kaunas in 2022, I discovered during my trip there.

The former capital of Lithuania is one of three European Capitals of Culture this year (the other two are Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg and Novi Sad in Serbia) and, in addition to offering a program of events throughout the year the city has developed a range of new cultural activities to celebrate.

Liberty Boulevard (photo) is the main street of Kaunas.  It is pedestrianized and lined with shops, bars, restaurants and an assortment of bakeries

Liberty Boulevard (photo) is the main street of Kaunas. It is pedestrianized and lined with shops, bars, restaurants and an assortment of bakeries

The medieval Kaunas Castle (pictured), with its roof shaped like a wizard's hat, is located near the Old Town Square

The medieval Kaunas Castle (pictured), with its roof shaped like a wizard’s hat, is located near the Old Town Square

This photo shows the Saint-Michel-Archange church with its forget-me-not blue domes.  It is located at the top of Liberty Boulevard

This photo shows the Saint-Michel-Archange church with its forget-me-not blue domes. It is located at the top of Liberty Boulevard

In addition to staying in time travel accommodation, visitors can now take a free walking tour with a ‘cultural host’ or a guided driving tour as part of the new Culture Ride offer.

Both types of tours are led by Kaunas locals with specific areas of expertise, such as photography, modernist architecture (there are over 600 modernist buildings in the city) and street art ( there are 30 murals to find and some are three stories tall). ).

Of course, if you prefer to visit the sites at your own pace rather than with a guide, Kaunas is made for strolling. I lost several hours wandering alone on the main pedestrian street – Liberty Boulevard.

There are more than 600 modernist buildings in Kaunas.  The old post office (photo) is one of the most imposing.  To learn more about modernist architecture, you can take a free tour with a cultural host of Kaunas 2022

There are more than 600 modernist buildings in Kaunas. The old post office (photo) is one of the most imposing. To learn more about modernist architecture, you can take a free tour with a cultural host of Kaunas 2022

Venture on the

Venture over the “Vytautas the Great Bridge” and you will find the Aleksotas funicular (photo). This 1930s railway climbs up the hillside to a lookout point that offers stunning views of Kaunas

To celebrate its year as European Capital of Culture, Kaunas has developed a Culture Ride initiative, which allows you to take free car tours with locals like Vida (pictured) to learn more about the city.

To celebrate its year as European Capital of Culture, Kaunas has developed a Culture Ride initiative, which allows you to take free car tours with locals like Vida (pictured) to learn more about the city.

This mile-long road is flanked by shops, bars, restaurants and more bakeries than you can shake a baguette at. If you only go to one of these, make it Spurgine.

In operation since the 1970s, it is a local institution. His signature dishes are baseball-sized donuts filled with jam or meat.

I tried a jam, still warm from the oven, and immediately understood why queues often form outside the door of this place.

The Old Town ate up another few hours of my time in Kaunas. The main square is cobbled and framed by cafes, bars and restaurants.

There are 30 street art murals like the one pictured above to study in Kaunas

There are 30 street art murals like the one pictured above to study in Kaunas

Pictured is one of the largest street art murals in Kaunas.  This one is a monument to Jewish poet Lea Goldberg, who lived in the building where the artwork is located.

Pictured is one of the largest street art murals in Kaunas. This one is a monument to Jewish poet Lea Goldberg, who lived in the building where the artwork is located.

Take a guided tour here and you’ll discover dozens of historical sites that are hidden in plain sight, including a few related to the Knygnesiai or Lithuanian book smugglers, who used to smuggle literature into the country when it was banned by Russia between 1866 and 1904.

Strolling along the main street and through the old town you will come across most of the city’s main sights, such as the Church of St. Michael the Archangel with its blue forget-me-not domes and the medieval Kaunas Castle with its wizard- roof in the form of a hat.

There are, however, a few points of interest that you have to leave the immediate center of town to find. Venture over the “Vytautas the Great Bridge” and you will find the Aleksotas funicular. This 1930s railway climbs up the hillside to a lookout point that offers sweeping views of the city.

Finally, the Devil’s Museum, with 3,000 sculptures of devils, deserves a mention. It’s kind of a Marmite place. However, if you like to visit the most unusual museums in the world, this place is on par with Froggyland in Split in terms of craziness.

Kaunas 2022 celebrations will continue throughout the year. For the full program visit the website.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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