Klaipeda: the sights of the «German» city in Lithuania
Klaipeda is a city in the west of Lithuania, the only port in the country and, moreover, the northernmost non-freezing port on the Baltic Sea. The city is located on the banks of the channel connecting the Curonian Bay and the Baltic Sea.
The lands on which the city is located are also called Little Lithuania, and they became part of Lithuania only after the Second World War. However, the Lithuanian population lived in these places from time immemorial, since the first centuries of our era, and their closest neighbors were representatives of another Baltic tribe — Prussians.
Later the Crusaders came to these lands, Germanization of the local population began, and then Little Lithuania was part of Prussia for a long time. The order and German past of Klaipeda distinguishes it from other cities of Lithuania, determines the architectural appearance of the historical part of the city.
According to historical sources, the city was founded on August 1, 1252. On this day, the wooden castle Memelburg was laid by the knights of the Livonian Order. Memel is the German name for the river, which in Russian is called Neman, and in Lithuanian it is called Nemunas. A trade settlement, annexed at the end of the 14th century by the Teutonic Order, began to grow around the castle, and then the stone fortress.
From 1525 to 1871, with short breaks, Klaipeda belonged to Prussia, and then with it became part of Germany.
Before the end of World War II, the city managed to visit the hands of the Entente, an independent Lithuania, Germany. In 1945, Klaipeda was transferred to the USSR. Now it is one of the largest cities in the independent Republic of Lithuania, the third after Vilnius and Kaunas.
The devastating fire of 1854 (when almost half of Klaipeda died in the fire), the fighting of the Second World War and the subsequent Sovietization of the city destroyed most of its historic buildings. But now it has a sufficient number of attractions, the study of which can take more than one day.
Most of the attractions of Klaipeda are located in its two historical parts: the Old Town on the left bank of the Dane River and the New Town.
On the narrow streets of the Old Town you can still feel the spirit of the old Prussian city. A distinctive feature of this place — half-timbered and stone buildings with tiled roofs and walls, overgrown with wild northern grapes. The streets of the Old City are so winding and tangled that they resemble a labyrinth, and many citizens advise to visit this place for the first time with a guide.
The heart of the Old Town is Theater Square with a magnificent fountain dedicated to a native of Klaipeda, the poet Simon Dah, and a sculpture of Anika from Torava, sung by him. Both the fountain and Anika are symbols and touching sights of the city.
Of course, there is also a theater in the square. In the history of this institution there are two remarkable events: in 1837 Richard Wagner conducted it, and in 1939 from the balcony of the theater Adolf Hitler proclaimed the accession of Klaipeda (Memel) to the Third Reich.
Unusual urban sculpture can be attributed to the cute and amusing sights of the Old Town — in the most unexpected places you can see a bronze one:
- chimney sweep on the roof;
- the Doberman, as it were, emerging from the wall of the house, is the “guard of the Old City”;
- eared «wonderful little mouse»;
- important cat Klaipedis with a gentlemanly mustache.
Another touching landmark is in the port of Klaipeda. This is a sculptural composition, consisting of a figure of a boy waving his capless ships and an elegant little dog calling the boy home.
Klaipeda is famous for its urban sculpture. In addition to the listed monuments, you can call:
- The Little Mermaid, installed near the Birzos Bridge, on a platform on the Dane River at Korolevskaya Embankment. The two-meter-long mermaid is one of the symbols of Klaipeda as a sea city;
- “Black Ghost”, sculpture perpetuating the character of Klaipeda legends. It represents the figure of a «ghost» in a black long mantle, crawling out of the water;
- «Wild man.» The sculpture seems to depict a primitive man. From the point of view of the authors of the sculpture, he looked like a half-naked man with a crown of oak leaves;
- “Kiss” — a sculpture of a girl standing on tiptoes, blowing a kiss to the hero of the sculpture “The Dream of Childhood”;
- «Post of the Old City», consisting of a bronze antique box in the form of an envelope and a pair of pigeons on it;
- Monument to the fisherman — one of the business cards of the city.
One of the most romantic sights of the city. Built in 1948 in Finland, the sailboat served for 20 years as a training ship, on which the cadets of the nautical school were trained. Now it is located on the embankment of the Dane River, and a restaurant has been located there for a long time. One of the symbols of the city.
The main attraction of the city is the Lithuanian Maritime Museum. This grand museum consists of the museum collection itself, a huge aquarium and the Museum of the Nature of the Curonian Spit, since Klaipeda is very close to this amazing natural landmark.
The museum has a rich collection of live fauna: birds, fish and marine mammals. In the collection of shells and corals, there are more than 20 thousand exhibits. In the section dedicated to the history of shipbuilding, models of ships are presented, and on the open area in front of the museum you can look at real samples.
The greatest interest in children and adults is the aquarium, in which you can see exotic fish and other marine life.
Part of the Maritime Museum is the fisherman’s ethnographic manor, a wooden house built more than 100 years ago, and where you can look at household items and fishermen of distant times.
The unique watch museum is located in a beautiful 19th century mansion. The history of the museum began in 1984, but the first exhibition of antique watches took place in Klaipeda in 1977 and was a great success. Interest in the history of watches and significant collections of collectors allowed in a few years to open one of the most interesting museums in the city.
In its expositions are presented the clock mechanisms of all times and technologies: from fiery to atomic. Attract and aesthetic qualities of vintage watches, their beauty, various style decisions.
In the summertime, in the cozy courtyard of the museum you can look at the magnificent flower clock and listen to bell music from the nearby tower of the old post office.
The museum, which opened in 1992, contains samples of Lithuanian blacksmith art. Exhibits include blacksmith tools, openwork crosses, fences, gates, wrought iron utensils, weathercocks, hoes, plows, and much more.
All visitors to the museum are offered souvenirs made here right before their eyes. And, as practice shows, few people leave without taking the horseshoes for luck with them.
The main natural attraction of Klaipeda is the unique Curonian Spit, divided between Lithuania and Russia. The northern cape of the Curonian Spit is located opposite the port of Klaipeda. You can reach the cape in 10 minutes by ferry.
On the Lithuanian part of the Curonian Spit are the small town of Smiltyne and the resort town of Neringa, consisting of four villages. They are among the unique Curonian landscapes: whitish sand dunes, magnificent forests and meadows and, of course, the cleanest sea with equipped beaches. In addition, migration of migratory birds passes through the territory of the spit, the number of which reaches 10-20 million per season.