Christ's Resurrection Church in Kaunas
(Survived
, k.k.v.r.
16005
)
<p style="text-align: justify;">In 1922, Kaunas, the former temporary capital of Lithuania, gave rise to the idea to build the Monumental Christ's Resurrection Church, which, as a symbol of national revival, had to embody "long suffering and strenuous fights of our nation, in particular our greatest achievement - the revival of the independent state". In 1926, the council of construction and the executive committee, as well as their statutes were registered. The honorary chairmen of the council and the committee were elected the archbishop of Kaunas Juozas Skriveckas and the President of the Republic of Lithuania Antanas Smetona respectively; the rector of Žaliakalnis Church priest Feliksas Kapočius was appointed the chairman of the executive committee. In 1928, the municipal government gave a parcel of land in Žaliakalnis neighbourhood, near Žemaičių street.    </p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The church design competition announced the same year requested that the church would be designed "at the discretion of the author but it should preferably characterise the peculiar qualities of the spirit of Lithuania and be linked with its honourable past and the fight for independence, and its exterior view should by itself be a monument to that fight...". In fact, as soon as the idea was shaped, quite a large group of opponents to both improper urbanistic location (lack of communication with the lower part of the city) and the very idea of the church emerged: "The monument of independence should be the monument of the entire nation, without reference to religion, language and political views." Proposals were brought forward to replace the church by a monument To the Unknown Book Smuggler, museum, etc. Nevertheless, the competition was announced in 1928. Out of 15 projects, prizes were awarded to three of them. The first prize went to Jonas Krasauskas, the second was given to Feliksas Vizbaras, and the third was awarded to Karolis Reisonas. However, it was decided that "none of them is consistent with the monument idea" and "after discussing it with certain professional architects and well-known public figures" the construction of the church was assigned to Karolis Reisonas, who made considerable changes to his competition project by creating a spectacular reinforced-concrete 83 m-high spiral-pyramid volume, which was to be crowned with a giant "7 m high statute of Christ's Resurrection". It was believed that the building "will give a character to Kaunas, like the Eiffel Tower does to Paris".           </p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"> Nevertheless, the project became the target for vigorous debate and protests in the press of that time. The most active opponents were the art historian Halina Kairiūkštytė-Jacynienė, Balys Sruoga, V. Kudirka Society who saw "platform-type style", "profane character" and the "creative incapacity" of the Lithuanian nation in the church design. Hence, even though the collection of donations to the said project began, long debates and "the impaired economic state of the country" made to refuse the impressive sculptural project, and in 1933 the final, far more ascetic, solution more modest in scope (according to the first project, the church accommodated 5,000 believers, whereas the second was designed for 3,000 people; also, the height of the great tower reduced to 70 m) and rather close to modernism style was prepared. Nevertheless, even if reduced in scope, the church was designed as the largest in the Baltic countries and had to remain the pantheon of the nation.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Reinforced concrete poles (25x25, 3.5-6.5 m long) chosen for the foundations of the church were "for the first time applied on such a broad scale in Lithuanian civil engineering". 900 of such poles were used. The walls feature a reinforced concrete framework with brick filling. The ceiling is flat and "made of tall reinforced concrete beams with reinforced concrete masonry among them, cascade-shaped, which will not only create a certain architectural view but will serve as a very strong framework". Apart from a flat roof which is the key citation in the architectural language of international modernism, there were plans to use a symbolic sign of modernism - bright electrical lamps: "on the major holidays the great church tower will be illuminated with energy-intensive electrical lamps which will spread the rays of light across far-reaching environs". Even if the building is far simpler compared to the original project, the representative function of the church as "the sanctuary of the nation" was to be highlighted by various decorative solutions: "the great altar of the church will be like an ark of the covenant of the Lithuanian nation with God a giant painting will be behind the altar: Lithuanian old graves featuring leaning crosses with the <em>Vytis </em>- the revival of Lithuania - rising in the background of the reddish rays on the roof, the sculptural Way of the Cross with the bloody way of the cross of our nation next to them - the sufferings of Lithuanians for their faith and the freedom and independence of their country. Such a way of the cross will be the first in the entire Christian world," says the 1939 publication on the construction of the church.  </p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Though in the beginning of construction processes it was optimistically believed that the church will cost some 3-5 million litas, one third of which would be financed from the state and the other share would be collected in donations and the work would be completed in 3-4 years, even when the estimate for a new project was considerably reduced, the construction was not completed until the Soviet occupation. During the years of Nazi occupation, the church was turned into a paper warehouse. In 1952, the building was adjusted to a radio factory, and was only returned to the believers in 1988. "In 1989, the architect H. Žukauskas and the specialists from the Department of Reinforced Concrete Constructions of Vilnius Institute of Civil Engineering, led by Prof. A. Kudzys, prepared the church restoration project." However, construction works were completed in 2004 only. The final project was drawn up by the former long-year chief architect of Kaunas City Algimantas Sprindys. As it was planned in the interwar period, the cellarage housed a columbarium and a chapel.     </p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Due to its scope, urban situation and political importance, the church is definitely the most significant example of sacred architecture of the interwar Lithuania. A moderate building, not overloaded with details, flat-roofed and modern-structured, features the intertwining international ideas of modernism and the interpretations of local forms. One of the key aesthetical solutions - a dense rhythm of vertical lines - is an obvious characteristic feature of a number of public objects of the interwar period in Kaunas.   </p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">P.S. <em>A part of the illustrations were taken from the Archive of Cultural Events and Publishing Group of the Kaunas County Public Library (KCPL). Travelling exhibition: Monumental Christ's Resurrection Church, 2003.</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Vaidas Petrulis, Beata Brazdžionytė</em></p>
Adresas: Kauno m. sav., Kauno m., Žemaičių g. 31A
Architektūros tipas: Professional
Architektai: Karolis Reisonas
Metai: 1933
Laikotarpis: Interwar
Architektūros šakos: Church, Architecture, Separate building, Religious buildings
Medžiagos: Masonry (brick), Ferroconcrete
Nuotraukos: 24
Susiję objektai
Telšiai Žemaitė (Former M. Valančius) Gymnasium
Telšiai Žemaitė (Former M. Valančius) Gymnasium
1935 - 1936
Kaunas central post office
Kaunas central post office
1930 - 1932
Dormitory for the victims of war
Dormitory for the victims of war
1934 - 1935
Jonas Vileišis House in Kaunas
Jonas Vileišis House in Kaunas
1930
M. Bruskienė Residential House in Kaunas
M. Bruskienė Residential House in Kaunas
1932 - 1933
Kaunas County Municipality Palace
Kaunas County Municipality Palace
1932 - 1934
Borisas Goldbergas Residential House in Kaunas
Borisas Goldbergas Residential House in Kaunas
1937
Vatican Diplomatic Mission (Nunciature) in Kaunas
Vatican Diplomatic Mission (Nunciature) in Kaunas
1930 - 1931
Residential House of Artist A. Žmuidzinavičius
Residential House of Artist A. Žmuidzinavičius
1928
Apartment House of Company “Butas” in Kaunas
Apartment House of Company “Butas” in Kaunas
1931 - 1932
Antanas Gylys Hospital Building
Antanas Gylys Hospital Building
1932 - 1934
J. Papečkys Residential House in Kaunas
J. Papečkys Residential House in Kaunas
1937
Petras Mačiulis Residential House in Kaunas
Petras Mačiulis Residential House in Kaunas
1935 - 1936
Cinema theater "Romuva"
Cinema theater "Romuva"
1938 - 1940
Elementary School for Jewish Children in Kaunas
Elementary School for Jewish Children in Kaunas
1930 - 1931
Sports Hall in Kaunas
Sports Hall in Kaunas
1938 - 1939
Vytautas the Great War Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum
Vytautas the Great War Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum
1929 - 1936
Č. Pacevičius Villa
Č. Pacevičius Villa
1935
Residential House of Architect Stasys Kudokas
Residential House of Architect Stasys Kudokas
1937
Agriculture Bank in Kaunas (now KTU Central Administration Building)
Agriculture Bank in Kaunas (now KTU Central Administration Building)
1933 - 1935
Palace for Firefighters in Kaunas
Palace for Firefighters in Kaunas
1929 - 1930
Grigorijus Gumeniukas Residential House (Adapted to Kaunas 3rd Gymnasium)
Grigorijus Gumeniukas Residential House (Adapted to Kaunas 3rd Gymnasium)
1934 - 1935
Evangelical and Reformed Church in Kaunas
Evangelical and Reformed Church in Kaunas
1937 - 1947
Health Insurance Fund
Health Insurance Fund
1933 - 1935
The Palace of the Common Labourers in Kaunas
The Palace of the Common Labourers in Kaunas
1938 - 1939
Palace of Physical Education
Palace of Physical Education
1932 - 1934
Palace of Klaipeda Pedagogic Institute’s Sports and Gymnastics
Palace of Klaipeda Pedagogic Institute’s Sports and Gymnastics
1937 - 1938
Old People’s Home
Old People’s Home
1937 - 1938
Funicular of Žaliakalnis
Funicular of Žaliakalnis
1931
Elementary School (now Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium) in Kaunas
Elementary School (now Jonas Jablonskis Gymnasium) in Kaunas
1931
Jonas and Gediminas Lapėnai Apartment House
Jonas and Gediminas Lapėnai Apartment House
1932
The headquarter of milk processing company "Pienocentras"
The headquarter of milk processing company "Pienocentras"
1931 - 1934
Commerce, Industry and Crafts palace
Commerce, Industry and Crafts palace
1937 - 1939
A garage of Amerikos lietuvių prekybos akcinė bendrovė company
A garage of Amerikos lietuvių prekybos akcinė bendrovė company
1929 - 1932
Office of the Bank of Lithuania in Kėdaniai
Office of the Bank of Lithuania in Kėdaniai
1931 - 1932
Office of Former Insurance Company Lloyd
Office of Former Insurance Company Lloyd
1938
Simonas Volpertas Private Clinic in Šiauliai
Simonas Volpertas Private Clinic in Šiauliai
1930
Former Frida Arkusienė Residential House
Former Frida Arkusienė Residential House
1939
Gymnasium named after Petras Vileišis in Pasvalys (former School of Commerce)
Gymnasium named after Petras Vileišis in Pasvalys (former School of Commerce)
1933 - 1935
Residential Houses at 83 and 85 Laisvės Av. in Kaunas
Residential Houses at 83 and 85 Laisvės Av. in Kaunas
1931 - 1940
A project for Culture House in Kudirkos Naumiestis
A project for Culture House in Kudirkos Naumiestis
1939
Draft project for the Mother and Child Museum in Kaunas
Draft project for the Mother and Child Museum in Kaunas
1938
Draft project for the Adelė and Paulius Galauniai House
Draft project for the Adelė and Paulius Galauniai House
1930
Jewish Gymnasium in Kaunas
Jewish Gymnasium in Kaunas
1931
Telšiai St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
Telšiai St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
1935 - 1937
Kaunas Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Kaunas Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
1935 - 1938
Raseiniai Old Post Office
Raseiniai Old Post Office
1933 - 1934
House of Vladas Stankūnas in Kaunas, Savanoriu av. 58
House of Vladas Stankūnas in Kaunas, Savanoriu av. 58
1934
Kaunas German Upper Exact Sciences Gymnasium (now A. Puškinas Gymnasium)
Kaunas German Upper Exact Sciences Gymnasium (now A. Puškinas Gymnasium)
1923 - 1930
Juozas Daugirdas Apartment House
Juozas Daugirdas Apartment House
1930
House in Kaunas at 4 L. Sapiegos St.
House in Kaunas at 4 L. Sapiegos St.
1935
P. J. Krasauskas Residential House
P. J. Krasauskas Residential House
1938
Museum of Samogitians "Alka"
Museum of Samogitians "Alka"
1936 - 1941
Gymnasium in Kėdainiai
Gymnasium in Kėdainiai
1935 - 1944
Villa "Šilelis"
Villa "Šilelis"
1938 - 1939
Villa in Naglis st. 8
Villa in Naglis st. 8
Residential house of Lidija Vaišvilienė and Olimpija Balsienė
Residential house of Lidija Vaišvilienė and Olimpija Balsienė
1939
Meilach Melamed house in kaunas
Meilach Melamed house in kaunas
1938 - 1939
House of Janina Rožanskienė
House of Janina Rožanskienė
1939
House of Dumbriai in Ukmergė
House of Dumbriai in Ukmergė
1933
Church in Biliakiemis
Church in Biliakiemis
1937 - 1940
Lithuanian Riflemen's Union house in Utena
Lithuanian Riflemen's Union house in Utena
1933
Mausha and Nathan Feinberg‘s house
Mausha and Nathan Feinberg‘s house
1929
House of Lionginas Junknevičius
House of Lionginas Junknevičius
1937
Meat Processing and Bacon Factory of “Maistas” company in Tauragė
Meat Processing and Bacon Factory of “Maistas” company in Tauragė
1931 - 1932
Former Petras Araminas primary school in Marijampolė
Former Petras Araminas primary school in Marijampolė
1934
Primary School in Alytus
Primary School in Alytus
1937
Branch of Lithuanian Bank in Biržai
Branch of Lithuanian Bank in Biržai
1934
State Pulmonary Diseases Hospital in Jurbarkas
State Pulmonary Diseases Hospital in Jurbarkas
1913 - 1931
Railway station in Plungė
Railway station in Plungė
1931 - 1932
Health Insurance Fund in Panevėžys
Health Insurance Fund in Panevėžys
1936 - 1937
Building of the Panevėžys District Municipality
Building of the Panevėžys District Municipality
1933
Former house of notary Jonas Dikinis in Raseiniai
Former house of notary Jonas Dikinis in Raseiniai
1933 - 1936
Former bus station in Raseiniai
Former bus station in Raseiniai
Raseiniai Primary School
Raseiniai Primary School
1933
House built by Teresė and Mykolas Narbutai
House built by Teresė and Mykolas Narbutai
1932
Kėdainiai County Municipal Hospital
Kėdainiai County Municipal Hospital
1935 - 1937
House built by Uršulė and Zigmas Starkai
House built by Uršulė and Zigmas Starkai
1933 - 1937
Primary school in Palemonas
Primary school in Palemonas
1935 - 1937
1 79

In 1922, Kaunas, the former temporary capital of Lithuania, gave rise to the idea to build the Monumental Christ's Resurrection Church, which, as a symbol of national revival, had to embody "long suffering and strenuous fights of our nation, in particular our greatest achievement - the revival of the independent state". In 1926, the council of construction and the executive committee, as well as their statutes were registered. The honorary chairmen of the council and the committee were elected the archbishop of Kaunas Juozas Skriveckas and the President of the Republic of Lithuania Antanas Smetona respectively; the rector of Žaliakalnis Church priest Feliksas Kapočius was appointed the chairman of the executive committee. In 1928, the municipal government gave a parcel of land in Žaliakalnis neighbourhood, near Žemaičių street.    


The church design competition announced the same year requested that the church would be designed "at the discretion of the author but it should preferably characterise the peculiar qualities of the spirit of Lithuania and be linked with its honourable past and the fight for independence, and its exterior view should by itself be a monument to that fight...". In fact, as soon as the idea was shaped, quite a large group of opponents to both improper urbanistic location (lack of communication with the lower part of the city) and the very idea of the church emerged: "The monument of independence should be the monument of the entire nation, without reference to religion, language and political views." Proposals were brought forward to replace the church by a monument To the Unknown Book Smuggler, museum, etc. Nevertheless, the competition was announced in 1928. Out of 15 projects, prizes were awarded to three of them. The first prize went to Jonas Krasauskas, the second was given to Feliksas Vizbaras, and the third was awarded to Karolis Reisonas. However, it was decided that "none of them is consistent with the monument idea" and "after discussing it with certain professional architects and well-known public figures" the construction of the church was assigned to Karolis Reisonas, who made considerable changes to his competition project by creating a spectacular reinforced-concrete 83 m-high spiral-pyramid volume, which was to be crowned with a giant "7 m high statute of Christ's Resurrection". It was believed that the building "will give a character to Kaunas, like the Eiffel Tower does to Paris".           


 Nevertheless, the project became the target for vigorous debate and protests in the press of that time. The most active opponents were the art historian Halina Kairiūkštytė-Jacynienė, Balys Sruoga, V. Kudirka Society who saw "platform-type style", "profane character" and the "creative incapacity" of the Lithuanian nation in the church design. Hence, even though the collection of donations to the said project began, long debates and "the impaired economic state of the country" made to refuse the impressive sculptural project, and in 1933 the final, far more ascetic, solution more modest in scope (according to the first project, the church accommodated 5,000 believers, whereas the second was designed for 3,000 people; also, the height of the great tower reduced to 70 m) and rather close to modernism style was prepared. Nevertheless, even if reduced in scope, the church was designed as the largest in the Baltic countries and had to remain the pantheon of the nation.


Reinforced concrete poles (25x25, 3.5-6.5 m long) chosen for the foundations of the church were "for the first time applied on such a broad scale in Lithuanian civil engineering". 900 of such poles were used. The walls feature a reinforced concrete framework with brick filling. The ceiling is flat and "made of tall reinforced concrete beams with reinforced concrete masonry among them, cascade-shaped, which will not only create a certain architectural view but will serve as a very strong framework". Apart from a flat roof which is the key citation in the architectural language of international modernism, there were plans to use a symbolic sign of modernism - bright electrical lamps: "on the major holidays the great church tower will be illuminated with energy-intensive electrical lamps which will spread the rays of light across far-reaching environs". Even if the building is far simpler compared to the original project, the representative function of the church as "the sanctuary of the nation" was to be highlighted by various decorative solutions: "the great altar of the church will be like an ark of the covenant of the Lithuanian nation with God a giant painting will be behind the altar: Lithuanian old graves featuring leaning crosses with the Vytis - the revival of Lithuania - rising in the background of the reddish rays on the roof, the sculptural Way of the Cross with the bloody way of the cross of our nation next to them - the sufferings of Lithuanians for their faith and the freedom and independence of their country. Such a way of the cross will be the first in the entire Christian world," says the 1939 publication on the construction of the church.  


Though in the beginning of construction processes it was optimistically believed that the church will cost some 3-5 million litas, one third of which would be financed from the state and the other share would be collected in donations and the work would be completed in 3-4 years, even when the estimate for a new project was considerably reduced, the construction was not completed until the Soviet occupation. During the years of Nazi occupation, the church was turned into a paper warehouse. In 1952, the building was adjusted to a radio factory, and was only returned to the believers in 1988. "In 1989, the architect H. Žukauskas and the specialists from the Department of Reinforced Concrete Constructions of Vilnius Institute of Civil Engineering, led by Prof. A. Kudzys, prepared the church restoration project." However, construction works were completed in 2004 only. The final project was drawn up by the former long-year chief architect of Kaunas City Algimantas Sprindys. As it was planned in the interwar period, the cellarage housed a columbarium and a chapel.     


Due to its scope, urban situation and political importance, the church is definitely the most significant example of sacred architecture of the interwar Lithuania. A moderate building, not overloaded with details, flat-roofed and modern-structured, features the intertwining international ideas of modernism and the interpretations of local forms. One of the key aesthetical solutions - a dense rhythm of vertical lines - is an obvious characteristic feature of a number of public objects of the interwar period in Kaunas.   


P.S. A part of the illustrations were taken from the Archive of Cultural Events and Publishing Group of the Kaunas County Public Library (KCPL). Travelling exhibition: Monumental Christ's Resurrection Church, 2003.


Vaidas Petrulis, Beata Brazdžionytė