If you are a Baltic history buff, meeting the three interwar presidents of the Republic of Lithuania will surely rank at the top of your list. Well, guess what? If you visit the courtyard of the historical Presidential Palace of Lithuania in Kaunas, you can do just that.
When the former owner of the building, Ms Flora Čechavičienė, rented a plot of land from the Dominican monastery in Kaunas back in 1844 and began building a house there, she could never have imagined that this building would become the residence of high-ranking officials and bear witness to some of the most significant decisions of the state.
The house has been refurbished and renovated several times and had several different owners until it became the luxurious palace of the Governor of Kaunas in 1866. In 1915, Wilhelm II, the last German Kaiser, stayed there for a short time.
After Lithuania had declared its independence in 1918, Kaunas became the temporary capital of the newly established state. On 1 September 1919, the President of the Republic of Lithuania and his office moved into the residence. During the interwar period, the Presidential Palace was one of the most significant centres of political life. All three presidents of independent Lithuania worked and lived there: Antanas Smetona, Aleksandras Stulginskis and Kazys Grinius. It remained the Presidential Palace until the Soviet occupation on 15 June 1940. During World War II, the building was taken over by German military officials. The sculptures in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace were placed in 1996 to commemorate the former presidents of the state.
The historical building currently houses a museum dedicated to researching and presenting the history of the institution of the President, telling the story of the Presidents and other political leaders of the First Independent Republic of Lithuania, the temporary capital and Lithuanian society. It also hosts diverse cultural events and educational activities.