History of Kėdainiai
Didžiosios rinkos square XX c Kedainai was first mentioned in historical sources in 1372. Name “Kedainiai” came from the name of rich merchant Keidangenas who the legend claims came from Kursai region and established small fishing village. From the middle of the 15-th century Trade routes passed through Kedainiai from Vilnius to very important Zemaitija’s region centre Raseiniai and from Kaunas to Lithuanian town Siauliai and Ryga in Latvia. “Senoji Rinka” the Old Market square was established along these Trade routes beside Smilga River.
Jonušas Radvila In 1604 Kedainiai had 348 house and around 2800 people living there. It was a great time for inn’s business. Kedainiai had 104 inns: 82 beer, 21 vodka and one for mead drinkers. Kedainiai were ruled by dukes of Radvilai family from 1614. The town lived through an economical and cultural renaissance during the rule of Duke Kristupas Radvila and his son Jonusas. In the first half of the 17-th century there were 10 functioning craftsmen workshops with 300 craftsmen consisting of tailors, pottery, blacksmith, shoes makers, weavers, curriers, carpenters, few slaughter houses and merchant unions. On 24-th of August 1627 Duke Kristupas Radvila verified the Old Rights of Kedainiai and honored town with new coat of arms and emblem from Radvilai and Kiskai families who ruled town in that time.
Arm of Kedainiai In later years Kedainiai experienced a lot of changeable events from religious community mixes to Russian and Sweden War, town crises, plague and rebirth.
At the end of 19-th century Kedainiai had 674 houses and 6113 people. More than half of this population was Jewish. Town sustained 50 different workshops, 140 shops and very famous horse markets. Kedainiai gardeners mostly Jewish started growing cucumbers and since then town is famous for this activity even in the present time.
Didžioji street XX c In 1919 the first battles for independence were taking place near Kedainiai and Povilas Luksys was the first rebel to lose his life. Those battles stopped Bolshevik’s army attack on temporary capital Kaunas. Kedainiai became region centre and was attached to first group of towns in Independence Time. The town was expanding and growing but on 14-th of June 1941 most town and region population were exiled to Siberia and on 28-th of August that year Nazis and their sidekicks shot 2 076 Jews from Kedainiai and destroyed a 400 year old Jewish community. In July of 1944 Nazis were retreating and blew up Duke’s E. Tobledenas Palace, College, region hospital, bank and several bridges. After World War II Kedainiai developed as an industrial centre particularly in chemical industry. In 1950 Kedainiai became centre of the region. Population was growing fast: in 1959 town had 10 600 and in 1972 – 23 600 people.
For more information about Kedainiai, its region and places to visit you may inquire in Kedainiai Tourism Centre, Didzioji St. 1, Kedainiai. Phone: 00370 347 60363