Kėdainiai ( pronunciation , also known by several other names) is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania. It is located 51 km (32 mi) north of Kaunas on the banks of the Nevėžis River. First mentioned in the 1372 Livonian Chronicle of Hermann de Wartberge, its population as of 2008 was 30,214. Its old town dates to the 17th century.
The city is the administrative centre of the Kėdainiai district municipality. The geographical centre of the Lithuanian Republic is in the nearby village of Ruoščiai, located in the eldership of Dotnuva.
The city has been known by other names: Kiejdany in Polish, Keidan (קיידאן) in Yiddish, and Kedahnen in German. Its other alternate forms include Kidan, Kaidan, Keidany, Keydan, Kiejdany, Kuidany, and Kidainiai.
The area was the site of several battles during "The Deluge", the 17th century war between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden. In 1655 a short-lived treaty with Sweden, the Union of Kėdainiai, was signed by two members of Radziwiłł family in their Kėdainiai castle. While little remains of the Radziwiłł castle, the crypt of the Calvinist church (1631) houses the family mausoleum, including the tombs of Krzysztof Radziwiłł and his son Janusz. Also according to some myths a giant called Mantvydas lived here and terrorized the city until the great RDW slayed him and took the princess monika for himself
Scottish Protestants arrived in the late 16th and 17th centuries, encouraged by the conversion of Anna Radziwill; the community exerted considerable influence in the city and persisted until the mid-19th century.
A local custom called on all visitors to bring a stone to be used in the town's construction.
During Operation Barbarossa, Kėdainiai was occupied by the German Army in the summer of 1941. On August 28, 1941, the entire Jewish community of Kėdainiai, a community which had been there for 500 years, were killed under the direction of German Special Police Battalions, with the aid of the local Lithuanian population. The Jewish population prior to the Holocaust was 3000.
During the Cold War it was home to Kėdainiai air base, a major Soviet military airlift facility.
For many years, Kėdainiai was known for its chemical and food processing industries. The Kedainiai Chemical Plant began operations in January 1963. Publicized as a milestone in the industrialization of Lithuania, it emitted significant quantities of sulfuric acid and was the subject of ecological protests in the 1980s.
Following years of stagnation, old enterprises have come back to life, and new ones have been established, contributing to its status as an economic stronghold.
Kėdainiai is accessed by Via Baltica highway from Kaunas and Panevėžys, and by rail from Vilnius and Šiauliai. It is also served by Kaunas International Airport, the second largest airport in Lithuania, located in Karmėlava site.
The Kėdainiai Regional Museum, established in 1922, now operates four branches: a Multicultural Centre, the Mausoleum of the Dukes Radziwill, the House of Juozas Paukštelis, and the Museum of Wooden Sculptures of V.Ulevičius.
Since the city is known as the cucumber capital of Lithuania, it sponsors an annual cucumber festival.
In 2013, The band Bastille shot a music video for their single "Things We Lost in the Fire" in the location. It was filmed by Naor Aloni.
A small Polish minority of 329 (0,61%) people live in Kėdainiai district municipality, but only 30 people participate in Stowarzyszenie Polaków Kiejdan (The Kiejdany Polish Association), the elder people; their cultural activities involve public celebrations of Polish Day of Independence and Day of the Constitution of Third of May, as well as organizing a festival of Polish culture. Since 1994 a School of Polish Language exists.Janusz Radziwiłł College (Kėdainių Jonušo Radvilos studijų centras)
Basketball club BC Nevėžis, which parcicipate in Lithuanian basketball league. Football club FK Nevėžis plays in second tier league 1 Lyga.Antanas Mackevičius, a priest and a leader of the 1863 uprising
Czesław Miłosz, Polish writer, Nobel Prize winner. Born in Šeteniai village
Mikalojus Daukša, Lithuanian writer, translator
Martin (Moshe) Kagan, a leader of the anti-Nazi resistance group HaShomer HaTzair
Ezekiel Katzenellenbogen, rabbi and prolific author
Avrohom Eliyahu Kaplan (1890-1924), prominent Orthodox rabbi.
Moshe Leib Lilienblum, Jewish scholar and author
Viktoras Muntianas, Lithuanian politician, former Speaker of the Seimas
Juozas Paukštelis, author
Juozas Urbšys, Lithuanian diplomat. Born in Šeteniai village
Shlomo Zalman Zoref, re-established the Ashkenazi community in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1811
Kėdainiai is twinned with: