XIX a. antros pusės Kaunas užsieniečIų akimis

Pakštalis, Arvydas
January 2011
Kaunas History Chronicle;2011, Issue 11, p15
This article provides an overview of perceptions of Kaunas by foreigners who stayed there for longer or shorter periods in the second half of the 19th century. Urban researcher Kevin Lynch has defined several common elements of "mental maps" of cities. These are paths that are often or accidentally used by an observer of the city; edges -- certain points where the "mental map" ends or new points where places can be created; nodes -- places, as strategic points, from which the observer moves or takes a rest; and landmarks -- points that serve as markers for the observer. Variations in the details of the mental image depend on how well one knows the city. In this case, travelers were not familiar with Kaunas or had almost no knowledge about the city; however, some trends can be seen. The article is based on memoirs, traveler's sketches and letters by writers, journalists, politicians and missionaries from Great Britain, the United States, France and Germany. Constant landmarks remained in Kaunas throughout the entire second half of the 19th century. These include the towers of churches, the monument for the 1812 Russian victory over Napoleon in Town Hall Square, and the hills on the shores of the river Nemunas. The latter, together with the rivers Neris and Nemunas, were also the city's borders, which expanded to the railway in the 1860s. At the same time, one can feel the displacement of nodes. If the Town Hall Square with its postal station and the Port had been the main strategic points, the majority of life moved to the railway station and its surroundings after the expansion. Meanwhile, the paths of observers of Kaunas were also changing. Previously, travelers reached Kaunas by river or by crossing the rivers Nemunas and Neris and, therefore, could find themselves at strategic points after walking through parts of the city. After the 1860s, there appeared one more bright line, one that led from the railway station to the Town Hall Square or the port.


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