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 New Town and Žaliakalnis areas, with more than 1 500 unique interwar buildings.
Kaunas is the only European city on the World Heritage List that represents the large-scale urbanisation of the interwar period and its diverse modernist architecture. The buildings that emerged between 1919 and 1939 are distinguished by their unique interpretations of modernist styles, with influences from Art Deco, Neoclassicism, Traditionalism, Functionalism and others.
Kaunas is significant for the World Heritage List as an example of the creation of a state, a city, a society and a change in cultural identity and values. It represents the whole of the new Europe – the countries that emerged after the First World War, after the fall of the Empire. All of them created new identities, but Kaunas’ status as Provisional Capital was unique and the best preserved.
Lithuania already has four sites on the list, including the historical centre Vilnius, the Kernave archaeological site, the Curonian Spit and the Struve Geodetic Arc.