Address: Žemaičių g. 31, Kaunas
Architect K. Reisonas
Built in 1933–1940
Routes: The Skyscrapers of Kaunas
The idea of building a sanctuary, as a way to thank God for the resurrection of the Lithuanian nation, arose back in 1922. But the process, which required a lot of discussions and political debates on the appearance of the building and the construction site, took a long time. At last, the vision of a monument that would symbolize both the struggle and the rebirth of an entire nation, began to turn into reality. An eminent construction spot was chosen for the occasion – the Žaliakalnis hill was perfectly visible throughout the city, which made it a perfect anchor point to epitomize Kaunas’ newly found status within its landscape.
In 1929, plans were developed for a spectacular 82-meter spiral tower project, dubbed by Kaunas’ inhabitants as a “šakotis” (baumkuchen) – a traditional Lithuanian spit cake, because of its shape. It was to be crowned by a 7 meter tall statue of a rising Christ, in hopes that such a structure would become a symbol of Kaunas much like the Eiffel Tower was of Paris (“Resurrection Church”, Lietuvos Aidas, July 9, 1929). However, this project was abandoned due to its complexity and exorbitant cost. Another, simplified project by the same architect was chosen for the monument. In 1934, the first cornerstone of the future church was laid down. By 1940, the building was completed up to its 63-meter high tower, but the church was yet to be finished, as WWII engulfed the nation.
The narrow strips of windows that split the flat walls of the sanctuary are meant to reinforce the feeling of progress and a strive to always reach higher. The building has indeed become the dominant landmark within the city’s landscape, with its silhouette somewhat reminiscent of American stairway-style skyscrapers. The church was originally meant to be illuminated, on the occasions of great Catholic holidays, by a series of strong electric projectors, which would spread their light throughout the wide spaces around the building (Tėvynės Garbei, Kaunas, Žaibas, 1939). Today, such architectural beacons, well visible from the outskirts of the city, are commonplace to us, but one can only imagine what extraordinary impression it would have been created back then. The Resurrection Church is a symbol of faith and a veritable skyscraper in Kaunas, having successfully survived both the strains of time and business imperatives.
Text by Žilvinas Rinkšelis