Construction of "military" or "garrison" Orthodox churches in former partitioned Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth lands, started after the putting down of the January Uprising of 1831 and peaked during the reign of Alexander II.
Initially the site of the future Kaunas St. Michael the Archangel Church was intended to be used for a Catholic church, however these plans were abandoned due to the Uprising.
Kaunas Cathedral stood out among similar military churches due to its size (it was designed to fit 2,000 worshipers) and unusual architecture employing triple Corinthian columns in an otherwise typical Neo-Byzantine five-dome design.
In total the exterior has 266 large and small columns and pilasters. This eclectic spin-off of mainstream Byzantine architecture (the so-called Roman Byzantine style) was hailed by contemporary architectural magazines but never gained popularity.
As built, the Cathedral reached 50 meters height; it was finished in three shades of sandstone color with equal-armed cross ornament. For the interior the structure relied on four load-bearing pylons designed to appear slimmer and lighter than in reality. The space between external and internal shells of the main dome was filled with hollow clay resonators. Cut from granite, floor tesseras were bought from abroad. In the dome above the main altar there were two Archangels – evangelists. The main altar's stained glass portrayed God's entrance to heaven. Smaller domes there used for the bells, one of them was founded in 1681. Just inside the church and to the right is the entrance to the catacombs, that are available to the public.