True Lithuania

Aleksotas Borough

Aleksotas district is immediately beyond Nemunas river from the Old Town but it has a certain suburban feel, just like the entire southwestern Kaunas. The Nemunas valley, deep by lowland Lithuanian standards, means that Aleksotas has a lower part and the higher part built atop a wooded hill. This hill can be ascended by another of the Kaunas interwar funiculars still running on its Swiss machinery manufactured in 1935 (closed on Sundays).

The best vantage point in Kaunas is near the funicular upper station. You can see most of the historical boroughs of the city with Old Town dominating the foreground. This place may be reached by stairs or by car as well as the funicular.

Winter in Kaunas, as seen from the top station of Aleksotas funicular. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

In the higher part of Aleksotas, the Darius and Girėnas airfield is located. Built in 1915 it was the main airport of Kaunas until the 1980s when it was replaced by a new one in Karmėlava suburb. Now it is overtaken by sports aviation but Aviation museum is also located here. You should probably skip it if you aren't a fan of aviation; that said the museum has interesting pictures and aircraft models from interwar Lithuania when the country was known for its aircraft manufacturers and had a mighty air force with some 100 fighter planes. There are some Soviet aircraft and helicopters in the exposition outside. Darius and Girėnas airport one of the oldest continuously operating airports in Europe. However, with old buildings replaced by new ones that dawn of the aviation era remains largely in the museum pictures.

Aleksotas was considered to be a separate town until 1919. In fact, it was on different Governorate of Russia with Kaunas being the capital of Kaunas governorate and Aleksotas being part of Suvalkai (Suwalki) governorate. The differences between these two governorates were no small deal: not only the laws were different but also the calendar. Kaunas Governorate had the old Julian one and was lagging two weeks behind Aleksotas where Gregorian calendar was used.

As such, Aleksotas bridge was nicknamed "time machine". This was not the bridge you see now, however, as the current one was built by the Soviets after the previous one was destroyed in World War 2. The monumental columns of Aleksotas bridge (rebuilt in 1948) are the last place in central Kaunas where the Soviet symbols are still not removed. They are safeguarded for their architectural value. This sometimes raises heated arguments as some politicians prefer to cover them.

A view towards Aleksotas from the Old Town with Aleksotas Bridge visible. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Compared to Žaliakalnis Aleksotas is less interesting.

Aleksotas map is included in the map of Kaunas fortress area.

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