Liberty Avenue, called Laisvės Alėja in Lithuanian, is pounding as the heart of Kaunas ever since from the 19th century. Where nowadays the Liberty Avenue stretches, there was the lush forest, more than a century ago. But, with the right history turns, the avenue survived the wars and occupations and never stopped modernising. It is impossible to explore Kaunas without the promenade through Liberty Avenue. Being the longest pedestrian street in Lithuania and one of the longest in Northern Europe, this boulevard type avenue is an integral part of Kaunas and its history.
Liberty Avenue was born together with the modern city of Kaunas. In the middle of the 19th century, Lithuania was a part of the Russian Empire; thus, Czar's plans to develop Kaunas city were the very beginnings of Liberty Avenue. When the avenue was outstretched, the street was named after Czar Nicholas I. The steady modernisation of the avenue started during the interwar period when Lithuania gained independence from the Soviet oppression. In 1919, the avenue was renamed to the Liberty Avenue, to celebrate the one year of independence.
During the 19th-20th centuries, the avenue changed its appearance. Lindens were planted, the taller brick dwellings started to appear, and the avenue began to remind the west style boulevard. The bohemian life during the interwar period was widely alive; the intellectual ladies and gentlemen were listening to music from the gramophones near the open windows in their houses on Liberty Avenue. During the late summer evenings, the avenue used to drown into the soothing music from the surroundings. Many small stores and bakeries began to open alongside the avenue. The most popular spots of this street at that time were sewing stores. Lithuanian women were coming there to sew the latest French style dresses and suits.
Somewhere around the '80s on Liberty Avenue, the movie theatres and restaurants started to open. The large shopping mall "Merkurijus" (Mercury) was introduced here to the public. Even today, roaming around Liberty Avenue, you can spot the old "Merkurijus" signboard hanging on one of the avenue's buildings. For the joy of the Kaunas people, the fountain was settled as well. Quickly, Liberty Avenue fountain became a sign of the promenade. Together with the appearance of the new places, the avenue changed to a pedestrian road.
Nowadays, Kaunas Liberty Avenue remains the main street of the city. Full of restaurants, terraces, bakeries, stores, and hotels - it is truly the heart of Kaunas. In 2019, Liberty Avenue was renovated, with the fresh and modern look, it still spreads the aura of its spinning history. One of the symbols of Liberty Avenue is the St. Michael the Archangel's Church (Sobor). The place now belongs to the Roman Catholic church, but its life began as the Russian Orthodox cathedral. With the Neo-Byzantine design, situated towards the eastern end of Liberty Avenue, this site puts some charm into the daily life of the Kaunas.
The long history changed the appearance of the Liberty Avenue of Kaunas. However, as the name of this avenue prompts, this pedestrian promenade sparks with the freedom to be yourself. Thus, with the romantic evening walk, or lunch at one of the avenue's restaurants, enjoy the vivid life of the beating heart of Kaunas city.
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