The main thoroughfare of Kaunas’s New Town is Laisvės alėja (Freedom Avenue), a broad, pedestrianized shopping street running east from the Old Town. At the junction with L. Sapiegos the street is enlivened by a bronze statue of Vytautas the Great facing the City Garden. Here, a contemporary memorial composed of horizontal metal shards commemorates the 19-year-old student Romas Kalanta, who immolated himself in protest against Soviet rule on May 14, 1972 and whose death sparked anti-Soviet rioting. Towards the eastern end of Laisvės alėja, the silver-domed Church of St Michael the Archangel looms over Independence Square (Nepriklausomybės aikštė). The striking modern building in the northeast corner, with the controversial naked “Man” statue in front, is one of the best art galleries in the country, the Mykolas Žilinskas Art Museum, housing a collection of Egyptian artefacts, Japanese porcelain and Lithuania’s only Rubens.

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