2023-09-18 Back to list

Historical recognition: interwar architecture of Kaunas is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

It's official - the 45th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Saudi Arabia has approved the Kaunas Modernist Architecture Bid "Modern Kaunas: the Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939".



Inter-war architecture has become the fifth of our country's treasures to be awarded the prestigious UNESCO status. On 18 September, the city's inter-war buildings and their diversity in Žaliakalnis and Naujamiestis were recognised as a significant value for all of humanity and for present and future generations.




Kaunas has received the most important recognition not only for the city, but also for the country as a whole - the city's name will now be on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The application "Modern Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939" was approved at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh. It gives global recognition to the Naujamiestis and Žaliakalnis areas, with more than 1 500 unique interwar buildings.

"Everyone in Kaunas can and should be proud. In recent years, more and more people have been smiling as they walk around the city. From now on, those smiles will be even broader and more numerous. We have a new calling card for Kaunas - UNESCO status. The buildings of inter-war Kaunas, their diversity, the optimism that binds them all together, are unique not only in Lithuania, Europe, but also in the world.

It is a long but fruitful road. I sincerely thank and congratulate all the heritage promoters, the experts who prepared the nomination application, the delegation that represented Kaunas in Saudi Arabia, and all those thanks to whom we can continue to promote the unique heritage and the name of our city," - congratulated Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis on the historical achievement.

The buildings erected between 1919 and 1939 stand out for their unique interpretations of modernist styles, with Art Deco, neoclassicism, traditionalism, functionalism and other influences. 


Unesco Kaunas3



"Kaunas' heritage has "sailed" into international waters with the European Heritage Label on 44 buildings. The UNESCO status for the New Town and Žaliakalnis areas, their architecture, natural framework and all their urban values is a definite success story and a supreme achievement. It will contribute to their preservation and attract foreign tourists interested in modernism," said Saulius Rimas, Head of the Cultural Heritage Division of Kaunas Municipality, who was in Riyadh for the session.

According to him, the Lithuanian delegation in Saudi Arabia received strong support for Kaunas and additional interest in other UNESCO sites in Lithuania - the Vilnius Historical Centre, the Curonian Spit, the archaeological site of Kernavė, and the Struve geodesic arches.

Our country was represented at the session of the World Heritage Committee by the Permanent Delegate of Lithuania to UNESCO, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Jolanta Balčiūnienė, and the authors of the Kaunas nomination dossier - Sigita Bugenienė, Marija Drėmaitė, Saulius Rimas, Renata Vaičekonytė-Kepežinskienė.


Unesco Kaunas 3

They presented to the other delegates the nomination file of Kaunas - a document of more than 400 pages, the preparation and financing of which was taken care of by the Kaunas City Municipality Administration, coordinated by the specialists of the Division of Cultural Heritage, consulted by the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO Secretariat, and the great work done by various experts.

In January 2021, the nomination application "Kaunas Modernism: the Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939" went to the World Heritage Centre in Paris.



Information and photos from the Public Relations Department of Kaunas Municipality.


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