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KLAIPEDA

Klaipeda City MunicipalityThe Monument to Martynas Mazvydas, 1997
Liepu g. 11, LT-5800 Klaipeda
Tel. 21 36 41, 21 45 67; Fax 21 39 17
 
Klaipeda is 318 km west of Vilnius and is the third largest city in Lithuania with a population of  205,000. The city is located on the very southern seashore of the Baltic Sea, at a straight connecting the Kursiø Marios lagoon with the sea.
For nearly all of its history Klaipeda has been a predominately German town, called Memel. Historians maintain that a settlement of ancient Balts, the ancestors of modern Lithuanians, stood on the coast of the Kursiø Marios lagoon at the estuary of the Dane river as early as the 1st century. In 1252 the Livonian Order took over Klaipeda and the brick castle of Memelburg was erected.
The 17th century saw the devastation of Klaipeda (Memel) by the Swedish army. The middle of the 18th century brought tsarist rule to the town for five years. For a brief period Klaipeda became the capital of Prussia after the French army occupied Berlin in 1807. The establishment of the Second Reich in 1871 motivated a speedy Germanization of all national minorities living in the city.
As part of the Versailles treaty, Klaipeda (Memel) was separated from Germany and designated part of an„international territory”. This territory also included the northern half of the Neringa peninsula and a strip about 150 km long and 20 km wide along the east side of the Courland lagoon and the north side of the Nemunas River. This area was ruler by an autonomous government and French armed forces. In January of 1923 Lithuanians drove the French out and annexed the city.
On March 23, Klaipeda1939 Klaipeda, the only sea-port of Lithuania, was seized by Nazi Germany. It was only on January 28, 1945 that the city was liberated and then occupied by the Russians.
At the present time Klaipeda is not only one of the largest fishing ports on the Baltic Sea but also a major cultural centre of Lithuania. Of special interest is the Maritime Museum and aquarium that boasts thousands of exhibits from many seas and oceans around the world.

 

From: "Come to Lithuania", Lithuanian Information Institute
Vilnius, 1996. Page: 119

 

 


© Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial Board, 1998.
Page updated 2000.05.08.
Comments to: samogitia@mch.mii.lt

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