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Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania, and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation it was the capital of Kovno Governorate from 1843 to 1915. It became the only temporary capital city in Europe during the Interwar period. Now it is the capital of Kaunas County, the seat of the Kaunas city municipality and the Kaunas district municipality. It is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kaunas. Kaunas is located at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and near the Kaunas Reservoir, the largest body of water entirely in Lithuania.

St George’s church first was build as a wood one in 1468 and meant to be a minor one. But in 1471 renovations started and castle was rebuilt from wooden into bricked. As this church was built in strategically important place (near to Kaunas castle and close to where Nemunas and Neris river confluence) it has many times suffered from military as it often happened to be in aggressor’s way. Church of course never was build to serve as fortification so this kind of treatment was very harmful to church. You can see that this church is from two parts. It is because half of it was completely destroyed in a battle in XVI century. Later it was rebuilt, but you can clearly see that one part of it is way smaller. However both parts are in gothic style. When Napoleon came to Lithuania he found this church greatly damaged and decided that is it’s worthless and turned it into inventory for crops. In 1936 this church was once again renovated, but soon soviets came and turned this church into medical school (I am not kidding). After that this castle was so damaged that no one wanted it. It was abandon until 2005 when government decided that we once again must renovate it. Reconstruction started in 2008 and still goes on. I find this church very interesting as it has suffered so much and still stands and at least half of its remaining part is original from XV century.

You can’t really appreciate this forlorn-looking Gothic building without taking into account its history. It’s had a rough ride since its beginnings in 1487. It’s been ruined by fire three times, suffered the wrath of the Moscow army during the war of 1656-1659 and then had a bit of a rest during the 18th century before Napoleon turned it into a warehouse. During Soviet times, the church was used to store medicine. It was returned to the Friars in 1993 in a pretty shabby condition, and restoration of its outstanding if shabby Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque interior has been slow to say the least. The good news for those who appreciate religious buildings is that by the end of 2011 the job promises to be complete. At the time of writing in May 2010, a large crane was seen hovering over the building putting the finishing touches to the roof.

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Additional Photos by Krzysztof Dera (Fis2) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5010 W: 157 N: 6544] (79774)
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