Kėdainiai is over 630 years old. One of the oldest towns in the region, the Magdeburg Rights were granted to the town in 1590. It is located some 50 kilometres north of Kaunas on the banks of the Nevėžis River. It was first mentioned in the 1372 Livonian Chronicle of Hermann de Wartberge. It has a population today of under 30,000, with some 50,000 in the greater municipal area.
The town prospered when it was ruled by protestant Prince Kristupas Radvila and his son Jonusas Radvila at the beginning of the 17th century. Both were activists in the Reformation, introducing economic and cultural innovations – for example, inviting many German, Scottish and Swedish merchants to come here and share their skills and expertise. It became known as the Town of Six Nations. It also became a town of many religions, Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Jewish and Orthodox.
The town declined after the 1655-1660 wars with Russia and Sweden in which the protestant Radvilas found themselves on the losing side and Counter-Reformation Catholics began to exert control. At the beginning of the 18th century, plague and wars with the Nordic countries had badly affected the town. In the 20th century, after World War Two, Soviet planners altered whole quarters of the old town.
Photo: view of Kėdainiai from St. Georges Church 1889
As the main cucumber growing area at the country, it holds a festival on the summer to celebrate this tradition, electing a Cucumber King. It also has an ice cream festival, but with the help of our cultural guides we’ll be finding out a lot more, which we’ll feature on this site.
Photo: 90th anniversary celebrations of the Museum during the town’s 2012 festival.
As the project progresses we will post information on this page from our cultural guides. In the meantime here’s a useful site: