Due to the impressive quantities of cucumbers grown here, the region of Kedainiai (Kėdainiai) in central Lithuania has long deservedly boasted the name of Lithuania’s cucumber capital, but in recent years, tourists have discovered Kedainiai, which celebrated its 650th anniversary in 2022, in a different way. The city is making a name for itself and gaining traction not only with its unique cultural and historical heritage, festivals and events, but also with a multicultural gastronomic variety. Here you can taste Jewish dishes, Scottish haggis, Radvilu stew, cucumber ice cream, mead and other traditional and/or new groovy meals or drinks.
Talk to the locals and tourists and you’ll undoubtedly hear they enjoyed the experience in Grejaus namas, Kavamanija, Benneto karcema, Ragane, that they savoured Susves mead.
It is not surprising that in 2021 the municipality of Kedainiai district received the prestigious award of the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities, Auksine Krivule – for the diversity and innovation of local tourism services.
"With fewer than 50,000 inhabitants, Kedainiai really has something to humblebrag about. Here is the legacy of the Radvilos (the Radvilos family was one of the most influential and wealthy families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 15-18th centuries – TBT), the magical aura of Sateniai, the birthplace of the Nobel Prize laureate Czeslaw Milosz (Česlov Miloš) (located about 13 km north of Kedainiai, Seteniai is said to be his source of inspiration. In his novel The Issa Valley, Seteniai Manor comes alive together with its people, stories, legends and myths – TBT), the spirit of peace and tranquillity in the sacred heritage complex of Father Stanislovas in Paberze permeates the air. Kedainiai is proud of the unique architecture of the old town, its rich multicultural heritage. Tourists are also attracted by the impressive gifts of Mother Nature, like Bakainai Mound, the Mikalojus Dauksa Oak, Skinderiskis Park, which is famous for its thousand magnolias. Of course, we also have the distinguished geographical center of Lithuania. And then the slew of our famous cultural events: the Broma Jazz festival, the international Paberze festival, the events of Radviliada, various educationial activities, concerts," says Valentinas Tamulis, mayor of the Kedainiai district municipality.
Interestingly, being separated by the Nevezis river, which also marks the borders of Aukstaitija and Zemaitija, two ethnographical regions of Lithuania, Kedainiai is thereby split ethnographically.
On a beautiful day, the 209-kilometre Nevezis River, the country’s sixth longest river and one of the main tributaries of the Nemunas, the country’s longest river, bustles with kayakers, paddlers, sun-bathers.
The history of the city of Kedainiai begins in the 14th century, when in 1372 the name of the city of Kedainiai was mentioned for the first time in written sources – in Herman Vartberge's Chronicle of Livonia.
According to a legend, the name of Kedainiai comes from the name of the rich merchant Keidangen, who came from Kursas (Kursas is now a non-existent historical and ethnographic region of Latvia west and southwest of the Gulf of Riga – TBT) and set up a small village of fishermen and farmers.
From the 15th century to the mid-19th century Kedainiai belonged to the Radvila and Kiskas noblemen families of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy and to the counts Huten-Capskis and Totlebens of the Tsarist Russian Empire. Evangelical Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran, Arian communities, Protestant luminaries and pioneers of Lithuanian literature settled here, followed by Catholics, Jews, and Orthodox Christians. Not only Lithuanians left their traces in Kedainiai, but also Poles, Scots, Germans, and Russians. The foundations of the city were created in a multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-confessional society.
Due to the unique city plan and the architecture of the old part of the city, which reflects the traditions of various eras and peoples who lived here, Kedainiai has become a true phenomenon throughout the centuries, laying out the foundations for the values of today's Kedainiai inhabitants – the ability to build a modern life, do business and nurture the great heritage and fellowship with each other.
As part of various international projects, Kedainiai Museum workers conducted scientific research in the Renaissance Evangelical Reformed Church, known as the Radvilai Necropolis. Thus, the Radvilai sarcophagi were restored, the crypt was renovated, information about the noblemen was prepared for visitors on modern technologies; furthermore, films were shot here. New interactive expositions have been installed in the museum – one of them is dedicated to Czeslaw Milosz.
According to the mayor, today, Kedainiai is also an important center of agriculture, industry and transit, a strong hub for foreign investments. There are also large chemical, food, light industry, and building materials industries operating in the district.
The largest industrial companies creating the most jobs in the region are AB Lifosa, AB Nordic sugar Kedainiai, AB LTP Texdan, UAB Krekenavos agrofirma, UAB Transporto vystymo grupe, UAB Makveza. So indeed, Kedainiai is a great strategic location for business! Especially because the main roads cross the Kedainiai region. Not surprising that a Free Economic Zone has been established here!
"In 2020, when the world was still affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of small and medium-sized business enterprises were registered in our municipality – in all, 99. Due to its geographical position – the city is in close proximity of Vilnius and Kaunas, the largest cities of Lithuania –TBT – Kedainiai is definitely attractive for business. It is very nice to see investors coming to our region – Kedainiai is on the path of progress," says mayor V. Tamulis.
If you have spare time while in Lithuania, make sure you swing by Kedainiai as well – your trip will not be in vain!
The most prominent places of interest in the Kedainiai district are:
The Evangelical Reformed Church and the Mausoleum of Dukes Radvilos
Evangelical Lutheran Church,
Kedainiai Regional Museum,
Janina Monkute - Marx Museum - Gallery
Mikalojus Dauksa's Oak,
The geographical center of Lithuania
Birthplace of Czeslaw Milosz, the Nobel Prize Winner
1863 Uprising Museum and the Paberze Sacred Heritage Complex
Radvilos Escape Room