Who would have thought that street art in Kaunas, Lithuania is so spectacular?
I must admit that before my first proper trip to Kaunas I didn’t know much about the city (besides the fact that this is the second-largest city in Lithuania and there is impressive modernist architecture in Kaunas).
But one of the first things I’ve noticed right after arriving was the incredible Kaunas street art.
It was so good that I wanted to return to Kaunas really badly, only to see more of the amazing works that can be found all over the city. OK, that was one of the main reason, Kaunas has so much more to offer than just the street art.
And so I did, in September 2019. And let me tell you – it was even better than I expected!
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Street art in Kaunas
After I’ve discovered very good street art in Vilnius I didn’t have many hopes for Kaunas. And I was blown away right away!
There are so many good works around, some of them are among the most beautiful and creative I’ve ever seen!
I’m sure you know some of them too since they are world-famous, you just might not know they can be found in Kaunas.
Street art has been present on the streets of Kaunas for years, even when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. But the real boom happened a couple of years ago, since the first edition of Nykoka Street Art Festival in 2014.
Now you can find some amazing works all over the city!
During my 2 days in Kaunas, I walked like crazy all over the place and still, I only managed to see what’s in the center. But if you would like to find works located in more distant areas you can easily use public transport (the old trolleybuses are painted in street art works too!).
Kaunas street art map
Before you start discovering Kaunas street art do yourself a favor and head to the tourist office. It is located in the town hall and open daily (Monday-Friday from 9am to 6pm, Saturdays 10am to 4pm and Sundays 10am to 3pm).
You will find there a great selection of Kaunas maps of various themes. They are updated often, which is important especially with street art when some works disappear and others are created. Soon a new map will be added to this collection (financed by Interreg program).
The one you are looking for is called “Wallographer’s Notes” and is available in Lithuanian and English. The map has 56 points marked (murals, sculptures but also cafes or galleries) is an invaluable help when looking for street art in Kaunas!
You can also find its online version here.
But that’s not everything you can find in Kaunas, the street art can surprise you in some of the least expected places!
Murals in Kaunas
The majority of Kaunas street art is big murals that you can find on the walls all over the city. Some of them were painted by some of the well-known artists like Ernest Zacharevic (you might have seen his works in Vilnius or Warsaw) or Os Gemeos (again Vilnius, Berlin, Lisbon or Łódź).
The most popular one is “The Wise Old Man” – a huge, 440 square meters painting on the former footwear factory. It is one of the symbols of the city and even made it to official Kaunas souvenirs!
But my favorite work in Kaunas and one of the best street art pieces I’ve ever seen is the painting “Princess on a Horse”. It was painted by the 7-years-old girl, Gabija, and then transferred to the wall by one of the artists. This is such a cute mural and it definitely put a smile on your face with its bright colors!
I also really liked the old wooden house colorfully painted. I remember it from my previous visit to Kaunas when it was just abandoned and sad. Now it’s still abandoned but looks so much better! I just assume it won’t be there all that long, but that’s the beauty of street art.
Below you can see many more works you can find on the walls in Kaunas. You can see the local street art scene is simply outstanding!
But street art in Kaunas isn’t only about murals.
Once you are on Ožeškienės street look for the gate at no 21. Step inside and be transferred to a magical world of the street art in so-called “Yard Gallery”.
It’s open 24/7 but keep in mind people live there so be respectful to the locals, don’t make too much noise and say hello if you meet someone.
The whole idea of Yard Gallery came from the local artist Vytenis Jakas who moved to one of the apartments in this courtyards. He didn’t like the lack of the community spirit and has decided to change it.
He put the photograph on the Jewish families on the walls, he invited all the neighbors for communal dinners so they can get to know each other, he organized various activities for locals.
All his efforts turned to be a big success and now the “Yard Gallery” is one of the most unique, charming and interesting places to visit in Kaunas.
The gallery is constantly changing, the new pieces appear on the walls while others are gone. Since my last visit in March 2016, so many new works are there, with a big pink elephant being the highlight of the yard (the inspiration came from the pink elephant on the wall you can find a bit up on the same street).
You can find pictures and paintings of the inhabitants, on the walls but also on the balconies (you need to stand directly below the balcony and look up).
I could spend the whole day in this yard, there are so many details, so many pieces, so many things to look at. Be sure to visit the Yard Gallery too, you will love it!
The most creative street art piece I’ve ever seen
You might have seen this work before as I always stumbled across it in all the list of best street art pieces in the world.
In the day time, it’s just a random sculpture of a man throwing seeds, there are other sculptures around so you might not even pay attention to that one in particular.
But once it gets dark and the lights are on the magic happens!
Behind the sculpture, on the wall, a local artist painted a few stars. The shadow of the sculpture looks like he is throwing stars. So beautiful, so cool, so creative!
When I visited the place in the middle of the day the square in front of the sculpture was occupied by skating teenagers. They were harmless but I clearly disturbed them when taking pictures around.
When I returned in the evening, around 9pm, they were still there and they still didn’t mind me but I couldn’t take a good picture – it was a bit dark and I didn’t want to be on their way when taking pictures (hence I didn’t take a good one).
But still, the sculpture of the man throwing stars is amazing and you can’t miss it!
There is another creative piece of street art in Kaunas, next to the Artists House at 56 Putvinskio street.
On the wall you can see a painting of a man looking up. During most of the year, he looks like a random painted man but when the nearby tree blossoms it seems like he is admiring the flowers. So sweet!
The main character of Kaunas street art
But the main character of the local street art scene isn’t the pink elephant, the horse painted by a little girl or the old wise man. It’s a smiling cat.
You can find him everywhere: on the walls, on the electricity boxes, guarding the passage at the riverside. He is so famous he even made it to the local souvenirs – I have a pin with the Kaunas cat that I now wear on my backpack!
If you like sculptures, especially those from the mid-20th century, you will enjoy Kaunas too!
There are some weird and quirky ones, like the cone-man or levitating man and some quirky, abstract sculptures that I enjoyed surprisingly much. You can find many of them at Putvinskio street.
As a big photography lover, I was very impressed with the photography-themed bike stands.
The most surprising street art in Kaunas
Now, that was something unexpected.
The old trolleybuses, the core of public transport in Kaunas, are painted in the cute street art pieces. And since there are still many of them the chances you will stumble upon some are really high.
You can recognize some characteristic pieces from the works you’ve seen on the walls of Kaunas, there is also a trolleybus all covered in cute cats!
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to take a picture of the painted trolleybuses as they move so fast but you can still admire them!
But hurry up, the old trolleybuses are replaced with the new ones and those are not covered in street art!
Kaunas street art is a symbol of the city
I don’t think I know any other city that made street art the symbol of the place. Yet that’s what happened in Kaunas.
You can find souvenirs (like tote bags, t-shirts or pins) with the most popular pieces – I have a pin with the smiling cat that I now wear on my backpack.
A few years ago there was a book about street art in Kaunas published – if you would like to get to know the local scene a bit more that’s definitely a good starting point!
Kaunas street art was also widely recognized – that’s one of the reasons why the city got the title of UNESCO City of Design in 2015 and will hold a title of European Capital of Culture in 2022!
If you are looking for not so popular street art place with works by world-known artists – Kaunas, Lithuania is your answer!
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Disclaimer: My recent trip to Kaunas was in collaboration with Visit Kaunas but my I simply adore this city and all you can read here are my honest opinions.
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