2020 in Kaunas: Significant Changes and Innovations

Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic and quarantine, Kaunas ended 2020 with a solid workload. Many of them have started or accelerated on an even larger scale this year. Kaunas City Mayor Mr. Visvaldas Matijošaitis says that the gained momentum cannot decrease even in this difficult period, but today it is especially important to notice and evaluate the efforts and initiatives of Kaunas residents, taking care of each other in order to stay safe and healthy.

“The New Year’s Eve is a good time to evaluate 2020. The year was full of challenges. However, this did not prevent the continuation of works started in Kaunas and the start of new ones. There was definitely no shortage of action.

We cannot afford to slow down the pace of the city today – too much effort has been put into achieving such momentum. It covers many areas – from big projects, convenient trips in the city, care for small Kaunas residents to street art. The pandemic will still end and we will all get back on track. In order for this to happen as soon as possible, we must concentrate for the time being and at least to stop for a while now, in order to avoid even more painful consequences,” said Kaunas City Mayor Mr. Visvaldas Matijošaitis.

Mr. Matijošaitis, who usually avoids forecasting, believes that 2021 will be meaningful for Kaunas. First of all, there is only a step left – only one year – until 2022, when Kaunas will become the European Capital of Culture.

In addition, a number of important works for the city are planned to be completed in the coming years. The construction of the new Kaunas Ice Palace, a kindergarten in Šilainiai and a bridge to the Nemunas Island leading to the future science museum and water sports center will be completed. The Romuva cinema and sports hall will also open their doors after the reconstruction. From last summer, the athletes at the new Bangputis rowing base will soon have a fully dredged track and all the necessary infrastructure for the highest-ranking competitions to take place in Lake Lampėdžiai.

“Today we need to see not only what the city is doing, but it is especially important to see those heroes who are doing their best for all of us. We must thank to the medics for their titanic work. Special services, teachers, social workers, various organizations and individual volunteers contribute in their own way to protect the city and its people. I would also like to thank the Kaunas residents for staying conscious. Let us not lose our sense of responsibility on the New Year’s Eve. We must stay healthy, because Kaunas is waiting for another year of positive changes,” said Mayor of Kaunas City

In summing up the 2020, it is not difficult to make the top ten highlights. These are the events and works that Kaunas residents noticed the most.

Triple construction on the Nemunas Island

This year, two capsules marking the beginning of construction were buried on the Nemunas Island. Next to the Žalgiris Arena there will be a multifunctional water sports center with an Olympic-size swimming pool, a SPA area and a sports club. Nearby works are also underway at the construction site of the only science museum in the country, “Science Island”, and a new bridge to the island.

Revived Unity Square

The unrecognizably changed space became one of the most visited places in Kaunas. This is no longer the place to pass through – now you want to stay here. After the reconstruction, the square was decorated with a fountain, an artificial stream, benches for a quiet rest, lighting and an underground parking lot. In 2021, it is planned to fundamentally reconstruct the Student Square on the other side of S. Donelaičio street.

Space for rowers

The old buildings on the shores of Lampėdžiai Lake have been replaced by a modern rowing base of the sports school “Bangpūtys” – a modern two-storey complex with two gyms, a seminar room, administrative premises and all amenities. In the yard – new sheds. The dredging of the 2 km long track will soon be completed.

Quality public transport

Investments in the public transport did not decrease this year either. Most of the 100 new hybrid MAN buses were taken to the streets. German vehicles guarantee not only greater comfort for passengers, but also less noise and air pollution on the streets. “Kauno autobusai” plans to include even more innovations.

Open-air gallery

The projects “Living Walls” and “Kaunas Accents” continue to amaze with new works of art. This year, 5 large-scale drawings were drawn on the walls of gray buildings. The Street Art Festival gave freedom to the artists’ work by opening two walls for legal drawings. The exposition of the city was complemented by 4 new accents from other fields of art.

Focus on babies and parents          

More than 2 thousand families received a special city greeting this year for having a baby – from the most essential items for raising little Kaunas residents to special gifts for parents. More information can be found on Instagram kad_augtum_laimingai

Reborn Laisvės Avenue

After completing the reconstruction of the longest pedestrian street in Eastern Europe this year, Kaunas residents are delighted not only by the new granite pavement, but also by the reconstruction of the most famous Kaunas fountain, new greenery and renewed elements of small architecture. Accesses to Laisvės Avenue are also changing: L. Sapiegos street has been renovated, the last works are being done in Kęstučio street, and works are gaining momentum in S. Daukanto street and the entrances of the Musical Theater.

Lithuanian Silicon Valley

The Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park (AIPP), located on an area of 30 hectares, is developing infrastructure for future investors. New underground communications, streets, bike paths, lighting – all of this is coming to an end. The conversion of the old helicopter repair hangar will begin soon. The building will become a space for laboratories and research centers. AIPP plans to create over 1,000 places for high-skilled jobs and attract 90 million euro investment. In November, the industrial park was included in the list of projects important for the whole of Lithuania.

More kindergartens for Kaunas residents

A new kindergarten is opened in Kaunas every few years. The changes started in 2016. The kindergarten “Aviliukas” has been opened in S. Žukauskas street. Two years later in Aleksotas, J. Kumpio street, a 100-seat kindergarten “Dvarelis” opened its doors. This year, the constructions started in Šilainiai, Kuršių street, and the outlines of the new 200-seat nursery are already clearly visible.

It is obvious that the growing Kaunas needs more educational institutions, therefore we are preparing to repair the former kindergarten in Vilijampolė, Jūratės street. A kindergarten on Vijūkų street is being designed in the fast-growing Romainiai.

Oak Park preservation works

In the summer, the complex reconstruction works of Kaunas Oak Park officially started. In preparation for the major renovation of the infrastructure of the entire park – paths, small architecture and leisure spaces – nature management works are being continued here. Crowns are being repaired, fortified, while dry branches and low-value greenery are being removed, thus creating favorable conditions for centuries-old oaks to continue to adorn the largest urban Oak Park in Europe.

The construction of S. Darius and S. Girėnas stadium is underway at full pace, the reconstruction of the sports hall is continuing, preparations are underway for the revival of Sporto street Square and the construction of a new athletics arena.