HISTORY OF KĖDAINIAI
Kėdainiai is located on both banks of the calm and the sixth biggest Nevėžis river of Lithuania. The town developed in the peripheries of two main districts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Samogitia and Aukštaitija.
From the middle of the 15th c. to the middle of the 19th c. the town was privately owned by the GDL noblemen Radziwills and Kiszkas and counts of the tsar Russia the Hutten-Czapskis and Totlebens. The economical, legal and administrational principles of the town functionality were developed by the owners pursuing economic and political interests, accepting national feelings and religious beliefs of the town’s population.
In the middle of the 16th c. Kėdainiai became one of the first sources of the Reformation in the GDL. Kėdainiai was the home of the Arian, Evangelic Reformed and Evangelic Lutheran communities, the Protestant scholars and supporters of the Lithuanian writing. Their disseminated ideas and interests of Kėdainiai owners mobilized communities and formed a town of various confessions and cultures. In the 16th-17th c. Kėdainiai was the most rationally and innovatory planned town in the Lithuanian GDL territory. The town’s plan is adopted to the expressive terraced valley relief and territories populated by immigrants’ communities. Such planning was also a creation of pragmatism and attitude of the dominating Protestants.
In the middle of the 18th c. the Catholic faith gained ground in Kėdainiai. Their victory of the faith was marked by a wooden church of the Holy Virgin Mary Sacrifice (now St. Joseph) built in 1766 and by establishment of a new parish on the right bank of the Nevėžis river.
From the middle of the 18th c. the town was known for Talmud studies carried out by the famous Jewish scholars. The Jewish community, called qahal, was the biggest and the most influential in the whole Samogitia.
In the 19th c. and in the beginning of the 20th c. the town became a province of the Empire, marked with a masonry Orthodox church of Christ’s Transfiguration, cantonments built in territories of the Carmelite monastery and the Reformed Gymnasium, changing the Renaissance and Baroque buildings’ shapes into the Classical ones.
Kėdainiai obtained the modern town’s characteristics due to the citizens of the young and independent Lithuania. They innovatory planned outskirts of the ancient town and these outskirts and the town itself were built-up with modern forms cottages and public buildings.
After the Second World War, the Soviet authorities dismantled private holdings, demolished a part of historical buildings, built typical multi-dwelling-units, desecrated spaces of the communities centres and volumetric compositions.
Today’s combinations of the modern architecture, cheap dressing and eclecticism show evidence of town’s residents identity search.
Kėdainiai is famous by its chemical and food processing industries, good infrastructure and Kėdainiai region is famous by its intensive agriculture. Kėdainiai citizens are historically engaged in vegetable-growing and important producers of cucumbers. Therefore, sometimes Kėdainiai is called a capital of cucumbers in Lithuania.