A settlement of Baltic tribes in the territory of the present-day city is said to have existed in the region as early as the 7th century. In the 1240s the Pope offered King Håkon IV of Norway the opportunity to conquer the peninsula of Sambia. However, following the personal acceptance of Christianity by Grand Duke Mindaugas of Lithuania, the Teutonic Knights and a group of crusaders from Lübeck moved into Sambia, founding unopposed a fort in 1252 recorded as Memele castrum (or Memelburg, "Memel Castle"). The fort's construction was completed in 1253 and Memel was garrisoned with troops of the Teutonic Order, administered by Deutschmeister Eberhard von Seyne. Documents for its foundation were signed by Eberhard and Bishop Heinrich von Lützelburg of Courland on 29 July 1252 and 1 August 1252. According to different sources, Memel received Lübeck city rights in 1254 or 1258.
By the beginning of the 18th century, Memel was one of the strongest fortresses (Memelfestung) in Prussia, and the town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. After the unification of Germany into the German Empire in 1871, Memel became Germany's most northerly city.
Under the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, Memel and the surrounding Memel Territory (or Klaipėda Region) was made a protectorate of the Entente States, in order to guarantee port rights to Lithuania and Poland.
In 1923 Memel became the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda. After World War II Klaipeda, together with Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Soviets transformed Klaipeda, the foremost ice-free port in the Eastern Baltic, into the largest marine base in the European USSR.
After Lithuania regained its independence Klaipėda became a very important city to the country, serving as a port and one of the largest contributors to Lithuanian economy.
The city is famous for its wonderful beaches, beautiful Old Town, liberal atmosphere, beer and gorgeous girls.
Klaipeda Old Town
Until the 15th century, the city was developing closer to the castle, which was situated on the islands formed from the Danė River tributaries. The castle was rebuilt several times and the city accordingly changed location as well. Until the late 15th century the southern city border stretched to the present-day Theatre Square. The castle underwent major repairs in 1529, and the territory inhabited by the citizens was used for the castle complex that was then under reconstruction. Residents of the Old City were moved to the island of the Danė River waters, the location of the present-day Old City area to Didžiojo Vandens Street.
In the early 16th century the main axis of planned structures were benchmarked: perpendicularly crossing Turgaus and Tiltų Streets. The city's territory was divided into small rectangular blocks, and by the end of the 16th century the network of streets and blocks was finally set, and thereafter was changing only vaguely. At the principal crossroad and at the bridge there was a gibbet - the stake where the gossipmongers or debauchees were chained! From 1595 and until the 19th century, the Old City held market fairs that lasted for two weeks, attended by tradesmen from the most remote localities.
Klaipėda old architechture
In Klaipeda's Old town you will face the oldest buildings of the city, dating from the middle of the 18th century. They are warehouses built in fachwerk style. This construction, influenced by Germanic culture, has been used since the foundation of the City. This method of construction was especially suitable for the marshy soil as frame constructions are lighter than the stone. Unfortunately, many of these buildings were destroyed by fire.
The tiny downtown houses and fachwerk-styled warehouses are being used by various art organizations - writers, artists and photographers. There you can find small art galleries, museums, souvenir shops and cozy cafes.
|The Simon Dach Statue on Theatre Square|
Klaipeda Theatre square is the heart of the city. There is a sculpture of Ann from Tharau in the fountain in the middle of the square. The monument is dedicated to Simon Dach, a German poet who was born in Klaipėda and studied at Königsberg University. Ann was the girl that the poet fell in love with at first sight. However, she was engaged to another man. Simon Dach dedicated a poem to her and called it "Ann from Tharau" which is still very popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The fountain with the sculpture of the girl and the bas-relief of the poet were created in 1912 by the sculptor from Berlin, Alfred Kune. During World War II the sculpture disappeared. It was reconstructed in 1990 on the initiative of the city inhabitants and emigrants.
The building behind the sculpture is the Drama Theatre. Since the 18th century the theatre has played an important role in the cultural life of Klaipėda. This building was reconstructed in the 19th century in a neo-classic style. The Klaipėda coat of arms is on the facade of the building.
You cant take a look at so called "crafts yard" located in the Old town of Klaipeda city. This area is like cradle of Klaipeda culture life. Building complex were build at XVIII century in old, facwerch style warehouses.
Original construction buildings are unique of their construction type and very rare to find on the cost line of Baltic Sea. They were made tall to store more trade goods.
Nowadays here are working various crafts workshops, witch invites guests to touch, feel and learn past times spirit by letting guests try to made local traditional goods by themselves, with assistance of craft artists.
Danės quay - Sailing vessel Meridianas
Walking along the river Danė and near the bridge you will see the sailing vessel "Meridianas". "Meridianas" was built in 1948 in Finland and is now one of the most beautiful sights of Klaipėda. The Klaipėda Navigation School used the sailing vessel for training purposes. When the vessel was laid up, it was turned into a restaurant and moored near the Dane River bank. Some ten years ago the owners who bought the vessel allowed it to fall into disrepair.
So a few years later the symbol of the city became nothing but a shadow of its former glory. The lawyer A. Žičkus then bought the Meridianas for a token sum of one Litas and the "Meridianas" once again became the symbol of Klaipeda. He organized a support fund and gave new life to the vessel. Today the restaurant "Meridianas" is again open to visitors.