Kaunas mosque (LT: Kauno mečetė), Totorių str. 6, Kaunas (54.894436,23.928371)
The mosque is open everyday for daily prayers. There is also a weekend school "Minaretas" for kids and adults.
For more information please contact administration of community by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Touristic visits can be organised by the tour guide specialist. Facebook: Turininga.
Žiūrėti didesnį žemėlapio vaizdą
History of Kaunas mosque
Once upon a time, Kaunas Tatars (an ethnic group that settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from the 14th century) had a wooden mosque along the banks of the Nemen (LT: Nemunas) river in the 16th to 19th centuries. However, during the Napoleonic troops’ assault on Kaunas in the winter of 1812, the building was set on fire. Since then, the Muslims had no common place of worship in Kaunas.
In 1847, along with the entire New Town, Kaunas Old Cemetery was established in accordance with the approved Kaunas city development plan. The plots of the Kaunas Old Cemetery were assigned according to the ethnic and religious affiliation of the inhabitants at that time. Thus, the territory was divided into four parts to Catholic church, Lutherans, Orthodox church and Islam (formerly known as Magometon). Approximately one hectare of land was devoted to this religious denomination.
When cemetery were assigned, a local Muslim descender of Tatars Mr. Aleksandr Illasevich (LT: Aleksandras Iljasevičius), who was known to be the owner of the famous “Turkish bakery” in Kaunas and also to be the first Lithuanian to perform pilgrimage to Makkah, succeeded to obtain by intercession to the local authorities, the permission to build a mosque in the territory allocated to the Muslims. In 1906, he built a wooden mosque (size: 10x8 m2). This wooden mosque was built as a memorial to his deceased parents who were buried at the Muslims Tatar graveyard. Furthermore, not far of the wooden mosque, was a wooden building divided between Imam’s house and a school for kids. All territory was cared and looked more like a beautiful garden.
The graves of the deceased members of the local Muslim Tatar community were buried there. Most of them were A. Iljasevičius family names, who were senior officers and officials. Next to them, their wives were buried. It has been also reported that near the Tatar Muslims graves, about one hundred of Turkish soldiers who died in captivity in Kaunas during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 were buried also there. Later, after the end of the World War I, behind the wooden mosque, German soldiers who died during the conflict were buried there.
After the end of the First World War, the Republic of Lithuania regained its Independence and restored an independent state, which became Kaunas, the provisional capital of the Republic of Lithuania (Vilnius was occupied by Poland at that time). The city quickly modernized and expanded.
In 1930 the government of Lithuania was planning to organize many events and build numerous public buildings in order to commemorate an anniversary of the death of Vytautas The Great. Thus, Kaunas Muslims' community got an idea to build a new mosque next to the old wooden mosque. After the approval of the Government of Lithuania, the funds for building of the mosque was provided by the state and the other part of them was collected from Community. The project of the building was prepared by architects Adolfas Netyksa and Vaclovas Michnevicus.
In 15th July, 1933 its doors were opened. The construction of new mosque lasted for three years. The purpose of the building is highlighted by interlaced historical forms and eastern details in the compact, modest size mosque. Outside: an elliptical dome and small minaret. Inside: the main hall of 90m² for men, 45m² open balcony for women, a corner for performance of rituals for dead people, an utility room, next to it – stairs to the balcony and the minaret. There was Muslims’ graveyard outside, at the corner of Tatars’ street and Traku Street, separated by the fence. The mosque was not radically changed up to these days, but graveyard was demolished.
During World War II the Mosque was closed and was robbed. Religious activities ran after the war until 1947, when the Mosque's ownership was transferred to the Municipality of Kaunas, following the order of the USSR Communist Party, the Muslim community was completely destroyed.
During Soviet times, the building was used for a circus and a library. There were plans to establish a museum of Islamic/Oriental art. The Mosque's external appearance is similar to its original appearance, but, all the internal decorations were replaced with the passage of the time. And in 1959 all the cemeteries were demolished and replaced by the "Peace Park". No cemetery is visible today.
In 1991, after the Independence of Lithuania, the ownership of the mosque and the territory of 0,8405 hectares around it was returned to the community of the Muslims. After long time the first prayers were held therein. Thus, since the independence of Lithuania, the Kaunas City Muslim Religious Community (Kauno Miesto Musulmonų Religinė Bendruomenė) owns the Mosque.
Till 2000 The Muslim community of Kaunas did not have an imam. This community was represented by Mr. J. Ridzvanavičius, chairman of the Community. Also, the esteemed professor R. Makaveckas and Mrs. Krinickaitė, as well as several students from Muslim countries, actively worked for the community. The religious service, as a Friday prayer, was conducted in the mosque by an imam from the Raižiai mosque, J. Chaleckas. It is only since 2000 that R. Jakubauskas has been elected chairman and imam of the community.
In 2007-2008, the Government of Lithuania provided funds to cover the cost of repairing the mosque. The exterior of the minaret, the roof, the exterior painted facade, the heating system, and the carpeting of the prayer halls were repaired and reinforced. After it, in 2009 the mosque of Kaunas has the status of the state protected object of cultural heritage. It is the only brick-built mosque in the Baltic countries.
The Lithuanian Muslim community always had close cooperation with the Turkish government since Independence of Lithuania. Turkish imams began to perform religious services at the Kaunas Mosque. For the longest time (2013-2018) these duties were performed by the imam A. Belge from Turkey. And the longtime chairman of Community was replaced in 2017 by Mr. S. Okat. From 2019 he became an imam of Community as well.
In 2018, the mosque of Kaunas was completely renovated. This was financed by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Interior and exterior renovation were realized under the supervision of the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture.
Since 2019 Kaunas City Muslim Religious Community is a member of the Council of Lithuanian Muslim Religious Communities - Muftiate.
At the moment there are about 300 to 500 Muslims living in Kaunas. There are a lot of regular students from countries of the Near East and Muslims’ countries in Kaunas. All these people are the members of the present day mosque of Kaunas. For the Friday prayer mosque is always overcrowded which results in a group of Muslims having to pray outside the mosque. The community is increasing in numbers each year.
Territory of the mosque
The land plot of the mosque is a part of the former Kaunas Old Cemetery. The former Kaunas Old Cemetery was established in 1847. The sites were for burial of members of various religious denominations, but it was not forbidden to build schools, prayer houses, etc. This strongly changed the urbanization of Kaunas city.
Until 1930 there was a small wooden mosque in the mosque area (1906), two dwelling houses with a beautiful garden. Although Kaunas Municipality considered that all the buildings were "outdated, dangerous in terms of fire and unsanitary condition", their demolition terms were postponed until the war. There were also Muslim cemeteries on the corner of Trakai and Totoriu streets. They were enclosed in a fence, according to local Tartars, in 1935, "perfectly tolerant of good looks and standing for any length of time."
The then Kaunas city government decided to transform the territory of Kaunas Old Cemetery into the “Ramybės Park”. The project included the construction of a cemetery and the construction of new trails.
1998 a piece of mosque land was leased to the community. In this way it regained its historical plot of 0.8405 ha. The area has tall trees and low-value shrubs.
2019 archaeological exploration of the entire mosque area was carried out. The conclusion mentions that no burial has been found, so the community plans to fence the entire area with openwork metal fences, clear paths, and set up parking.
Throughout the mosque, Islamic (Muslim-Sunni) religious canons prohibit dogs, dogs, plants, litter and noise. It is a sacred place for meditation and family recreation.
Kultūros vertybių registras, Kauno mečetės u.k.1151
Laurinaitis Paulius Tautvydas, Petrulis Vaidas. Totorių mečetė Kaune
Totorių paminklas Vytautui Didžiajam
Kauno apskrities totorių bendruomenė