Kaunas (/ˈkaʊnəs/; Lithuanian: [ˈkɐʊˑnɐs] ( listen); also see other names) is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the centre of a county in Trakai Municipality of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. In the Russian Empire, it was the capital of the Kaunas Governorate from 1843 to 1915. It served as temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period, while the traditional capital of Vilnius was part of Poland between 1920 and 1939. During that period Kaunas has been nicknamed the Little Paris because of rich cultural and academic life, fashion, construction of countless Art Deco, Lithuanian National Romanticism architectural style buildings as well as popular furniture, interior design of the time and widespread café culture. The city interwar architecture is regarded as one of the finest examples of the European Art Deco and received the European Heritage Label, it also resulted in naming Kaunas the first city in Central and Eastern Europe as a UNESCO City of Design. In 2022, Kaunas will be the European Capital of Culture, together with the Luxembourgish city of Esch-sur-Alzette.
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