Top things to see in Klaipeda
Klaipeda is the oldest city of Lithuania founded in 1252 when the Livonian Order built Memelburg Castle in the place where the Curonian lagoon meets the Baltic Sea. For many years it was a part of East Prussia, but after Klaipeda Revolt in 1923, the city joined Lithuania. Today Klaipeda is a beautiful, attractive, hospitable city, still keeping its distinct German flavour. So here are the top things you can’t miss when visiting this cosy city.
Black Ghost sculpture
The atmospheric bronze statue is located by the Old Mill Hotel. The bronze ghostly silhouette looks like it is just stepping out of the water via the shore line. Legend has it that one evening in the 16th century, a Memel Castle guard was walking around the docks and saw a hooded ghostly figure. This “black ghost” asked him about the city’s supply of grain and timber and if the amount was sufficient. The guard replied that supplies were indeed enough, but the hooded ghost warned the guard that the stocks would soon be insufficient, and with that as quickly as it appeared, it vanished. Check also nicely renovated warehouse area next to the sculpture.
The castle place in Klaipeda has always been the most significant part of the city. The castle impelled the city’s construction; the bastions protected Klaipeda from enemies. Klaipeda castle was first mentioned in the middle of the 13th century. Klaipeda castle lost its military importance after the Seven Years’ War and was gradually abandoned. Now, this square is used for various events, city celebrations, street acts, and handicraft fairs.
One of the symbols of the city, the sailing vessel “Meridianas” was built in 1948 in Finland. For many years it was the property of the Lithuanian Maritime Academy and operated as a training ship for trainees, sea navigators, and captains. Now permanently docked, the vessel was renovated in 2014, with a luxurious seafood restaurant set up inside. The interior of the rebuilt vessel has spacious design, light colours, and unique details and accessories.
Half-timbered buildings in the old town
The old town is filled with cobblestone streets and historic buildings, charming little shops and atmospheric cafes and bars. Klaipeda’s oldest buildings represent a beautiful German style known as Fachwerk. Fachwerk timber framing was especially popular in Klaipeda in the first half of the 19th century. It makes the architecture of this city unique in Lithuania. Some of the old Fachwerk constructions can still be found between Didžioji Vandens street and Market square.
Friedrich Passageway is a unique place in the old town of Klaipeda. For some time it had its own rights of the Friedrich town and even had its own coat of arms. Once you enter this cosy courtyard, you will feel as if you were on a small street in a Western European city, ready to sit down and relax, to try freshly prepared fish, to sip wine or coffee. Friedrich‘s passageway opened its doors in 2006 and combines historic spirit with traditional Lithuanian hospitality.Address: (Tiltų 26a, by the old market).
Back in the 17th century, the rocks and stones of the square were underwater. Up to the middle of the 20th century, the square was used as an active market place, and since the 19th century, one of the main features of the square was the Theatre (Dramos teatras), which quickly gained importance in the city’s cultural life. Many famous artists performed here, for example, in 1837 Richard Wagner conducted the Konigsberg opera musicians.
In the middle of the Theatre Square, you will find the city icon: monument of Ann from Tharau, dedicated to a famous Prussian poet Simon Dach (1605–1659), who was born in Klaipeda. Ann was a girl with whom 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”. The poem is still very popular in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. During World War II, the sculpture disappeared. It was reconstructed in 1990.
The bronze sculpture “Tower”
The bronze sculpture “Tower” (Bokštas) rose up in the Old Town in 1990, in the place where a house burned down during World War II. As the newly-opened square was empty, the decision was made to put a statue there. The statue by Algirdas Bosas is like a house where various epochs of Klaipeda residents and their traditions “live”. Address: Jono 9.
Liepų (Linden) Street is arguably the most interesting in the New Town. It developed on the right bank of the Dane river in the 17th century. The street became popular with the aristocrats and rich merchants of the city. There are many buildings of different styles showcasing different periods they were built in. Here you may find a neo-gothic German Royal Post building (1893) with a large tower. A carillon of 48 chromatically-tuned bells is installed in the reconstructed tower. At noon every Sunday, they play for 30 minutes.
Make sure to visit the Klaipeda Clock Museum in a gorgeous restored 19th-century building. It is one of the unique museums in Europe. Originals, models, or reconstructed copies of the ancient calendars, sun, water, fire and sand clocks, mechanical time measuring devices to the modern electro-mechanical, electro-magnetic, and quartz clocks are on display.Address: Liepu g. 16, Klaipeda
There are other beautiful residential buildings on this street.
A sculpture park next to the street is the Soviet replacement for Lutheran cemetery.
Other statues and monuments of Klaipeda
Klaipeda is filled with so many statues and monuments that I lost count of them. Look out for them everywhere. One place where they are exhibited is Martynas Mažvidas pedestrian alley. Klaipeda also has a 5 kilometre long statues and monuments route where you can see 37 various monuments and sculptures. The most popular of them are “The cat with the face of a gentleman” by R.Midvikis, “Magic Mouse” by S.Jurkus and S.Plotnikovas, and also the “Black Ghost” that I already told you about.
What I did not see but you should
Visit the giant dune-filled sand bar known as the Curonian Spit. Belonging half to Russia and a half to Lithuania, the 100 km long spit is a destination filled with beautiful buildings, multiple museums, and a stunning beach.
Want to see more of Lithuania near Klaipeda? This day trip could be easily done from Klaipeda or Palanga!
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What did you think? Have you been to Lithuania? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
Author: Anita Sane