Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania and a former temporary capital. It is served by the freeways Via Baltica (E67) and Vilnius — Klaipeda. Kaunas is located at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, and near the Kaunas Reservoir, the largest body of water entirely in Lithuania. The city's name is of Lithuanian origins and most likely derives from a personal name. Before Lithuania regained independence, the city was generally known in English as Kovno, the traditional Slavicized form of its name; the Polish name is Kowno.
The town was founded in 1030, but it is first mentioned in written sources in 1361. In the thirteenth century, a stone wall was built as protection from constant raids by the Teutonic Knights. Central Kaunas is defined by two pedestrian streets: the 2-km-long Laisves aleja (Liberty Avenue), a central street of the city, lined by linden trees, and its continuation, Vilnius Street, leading to the oldest part of Kaunas.