Forts "protecting" Kaunas: present and future 1

Laura Rimkutė, 2015-05-20

In brief: After visiting Kaunas forts, it becomes obvious that Kaunas has a great treasure of heritage. Although Fort was not beneficial during the First World War, if fully arranged now, Kaunas could boldly appear next to European heritage. Not only famous for great interwar architecture, but also as a unique example of military history with its intriguing legends.

A hundred years passed since the destruction of the fortress. Most parts of its structure still remain in Kaunas. Representative office buildings in the city center are perfectly restored and adapted to various uses. St. Archangel Michael (Garrison) church of impressive dimensions became the chief object of Kaunas new town; Žemieji Šančiai and Panemunė army barracks are being reconstructed and turned into apartments and a 9th fort was turned into one of the most important museums of Kaunas. However, eight forts of the first defensive ring became an urgent problem. Forts that surrounded the city during the czarist period, over the century, joined the cityscape and became a part of it. Thus, it is natural that there is a pending question of what should be done with these objects that are important to the war history. Also, since almost every fort is inhabited by bats, it was hard to create a dialog between environmentalists and conservationists. Protection of both things hurt each other. It is also important to note that the objects of the fortress are not protected as a whole - they have different owners.



Currently in Kaunas the idea of uniting the objects of the fortress into a single body is being considered. Forts have many owners or simply do not belong to anyone (for example the 6th fort), which means that there is no adequate protection. Public institution Kaunas fortress projects, which started operating in 2010, has the idea of creating a historical-architectural park, which would include parks, museums, community spaces. The institution could take care of promotion and the most important care of forts and other military buildings; to attract tourists and cooperate with the owners of the buildings in handling them.



However, the project, because of its massive scale is not that easy to implement. The head of public institution Kaunas fortress projects Valdas Rakutis says, that above all, such historical-architectural vision of the park is a new idea and people need to get used to it. Secondly, the municipalities of Kaunas city and Kaunas district are afraid that a new area, which requires money will appear that does not provide any tangible benefit. Moreover, it is hard to find the right bureaucratic solution. However, despite some obstacles project is slowly making its way.



Recently, a lot is expected from the bicycle trip organized by Kaunas fortress projects, which is dedicated to the topic of forts. Since forts are not visited by tourists, the participants of the tour will be taken there and in this way, will be introduced with the history of forts. By cycling from one fort to the other, participants of the tour will be able to grasp more easily the fortress as a whole rather than individual objects.

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