Smiltynes g. 18, LT-5800 Klaipeda; Tel. 13 63 54
by Danute Mukiene
Kursiu Nerija (Curonian Spit) National Park
Kursiu Nerija (Curonian Spit) National Park (18.000 ha) was set up in 1991. It is situated between the Baltic Sea and the Kursiu Marios (Curonian Lagoon). Unique and very delicate nature needs strong regulation of economic activities and that of visitors’ flow.
Kursiu Nerija is formed of sand grains, which started their long and complicated way from the Semba peninsula 5-6 thousand years ago. Sand grains accumulated in the sandbank, at first under the water, then they formed a white-coloured embankment above it. The lenght of the spit is 97 km, its breadth fluctuates from 400 m to 3.8 km.
On the west side of the spit, bordering the Baltic Sea, a narrow and low protective dune has been created. Behind it a forested plain stretches, and beyond it one can see a crest of great dunes; it is situated near the Kursiu Marios. The great dunes stretch for about 70 km. Their breadth is approximately 700-800 m and they are 60 m high, forming bays and capes on the side of the Kursiu Marios. The great dunes are real gems of the spit landscape.
The moving sandy surface of the spit was reinforced by forests, but due to the wars and anthropogenic activities most of them were destroyed. The wind drifted free sand, and from the 16th to the 19th centuries 14 fishermen’s villages were buried under it. To stop the moving dunes they were afforested. This work was started by the post station employee Georg David Kuwert in 1825. The maintenance and reinforcement of the sand dunes are going on further. Nowadays forest covers 6.731 ha including 3.556 ha Scotch pine and 1.874 ha stunted pine stands. 37 rare plant species grow on the spit. Some of them are listed in the Red Book of Lithuania: Eryngium maritimum, Glaux maritima, Aster tripolium, and Erica tetralix. The wildlife of the spit is also distinctive including save ducks (Tadorna tadorna), sea eagles (Haliaetus albicilla), noble eagles (Aquila chrysactos).
Kursiu Nerija has 2.600 residens. All settlements contain ethnographic architectural monuments, the old part of Nida has been pronounced an urbanistic monument.
Wilhelm von Humboldt said once that Kursiu Nerija opens wonderful sights for one’s sould. The Kursiu Nerija National Park is to preserve these sights for ever.
From: "Come to Lithuania", Lithuanian Information Institute.
Vilnius, 1996. Page:127-128
How to Get to Neringa?
- Planes from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, England, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, and other European capitals fly into Vilnius.
- Palanga airport is closest to Nida, which also receives passenger planes.
Ferries from Mukran, Kiel, and Stockholm travel to Klaipeda.
Buses from Vilnius, Kaunas, Siauliai, Panevezys, Alytus, Marijampole, and Palanga (Palanga buses leave every half hour from 6:30 am to 12:00 am) travel to Klaipeda.
Buses from Kaliningrad and Smiltyne travel to Nida about every hour.
It is possible to travel to Nida with the “Raketa” ship leaving from Klaipeda.
There are two ferry lines in Klaipeda. Ferries to Smiltyne run from 6 am to 2 am.
Winds and Weathervanes of the Curonian Spit
by Libertas Klimka
Wind direction names in the fishers’ lexicon is divided into eight planes.
It is interesting to note that there are no Germanic names for the winds, though much of fisher terminology is of Germanic origin. Some maintain that the wind names are Finno-Ugric in origin.
Weathervanes decorated the masts of kurenai sailing in the Curonian Lagoon. Their purpose was not so much to show the direction of the wind, but to identify the vessel. Each weathervane had to have the symbol of the village in which the owner of the vessel lived. The weathervane is a unique cultural phenomenon. Nothing similar is found in the fishing traditions of other European lands. They appeared only around the mid 19th century. The weathervanes later changed, became more precise, were added upon.
by L. Klimka:
The krikstas (sing.) is one of the most old-fashioned forms of tombstone in Lithuania. They were made from thick slabs of wood. The form of the krikstai resembles a tree and birds were often carved into the side of the monument.
by J. Butkevicius:
Krikstai started as simple wooden poles and eventually evolved into more complicated forms. Popular animal figures ornamented the krikstai of Klaipeda’s Lithuanians. Horse and bird heads were especially prominent. The tombstones of Klaipeda’s Lithuanians are also characterized by coloration. Favored colors for krikstai were blue, yellow, red, green, black, and gray. Inscriptions were colored in green, white, and gray.
20th Century Myths
by Nijole Strakauskiene
- This is an article about the history of Juodkrante’s “Mayaus” hotel and Nida’s “Manbijou” (known as “Geringo”) villa.
- The author maintains that the hotel was not named after the famous writer Carl May, but after the owner May, who had nothing to do with the famous writer.
- There is not data that Herman Gering had ever visited the Curonian Spit. This is one reason why the author denies the fact that Reich’s official ever came to rest at the Spit’s “Monbijou” villa.
The Changing Landscape
by Jurgis Bucas
One can say that the history of humans and nature on Curonian Spit was split in two, leaving a natural and cultural landscape. The latter is characterized by two time periods. This article is about how people in the 16th-18th centuries destroyed the forests and helped the wind wreck the natural landscape which had been evolving for 5000 years. In the 19th century, however, by manipulating the wind and cleverly using the green power of nature, humans created a new landscape in the sand wastelands, which we all admire to this day.
The landscape of the Curonian Spit, which we can presently see, is not much older than our elders - it is not yet 150 years old. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth and the only example of deliberately planned cultural scenery in Lithuania ranking with world-class protected natural territories.
Some Facts About the Daily Life of the Dwellers of the Curonian Spit
by Angele Vysniauskaite
Much is written about the unique nature and inhabitants (their language, culture, and daily life) of the Curonian Spit. Lithuanians of Neringa more often identified themselves as Curonians, since most of them spoke Curonian—a Latvian dialect—though by the 19th and 20th centuries they also spoke German and Lithuanian. Since they were beholden to East Prussia for such a long time, the ethnoculture of the Neringa Lithuanians is intertwined with Latvian, Lithuanian, and German cultural elements. However, the Baltic origins remain the most dominant. This fact is enforced by all those who have written about the Curonian Spit.
This article does not describe modern-day, but the ancient Lithuanian-Curonians or “Dune-Dwellers” (so called by the inhabitants of the dry plains).
The Sculpture Park of Juodkrante
by Danguole Zelvyte
The construction of a 2400 m boardwalk in Juodkrante started in 1995 (architect Ricardas Kristapavicius). During its construction, the idea arose to install a sculpture exposition “Earth and Water” at this site. The first sculptures were created in 1997 from July 10th-August 10th during the international sculptors’ symposium in Juodkrante “Earth and Water.”
This exhibit is bound to become rich with new sculptures, since the sculptors’ symposium is to occur every spring. All sculptures created in the symposiums will be used to expand the Sculpture Park’s exhibit.
Settlements of the Curonian Spit National Park
by Danute Ramonaite
This is the northernmost part of the Curonian Spit. Kopgalis was a fishing village until the end of WWII. It was settled in the beginning of the 19th century. In 1905, 134 people lived in Kopgalis. Later, this settlement became known as a summer resort. Beautiful villas were built, a Kurhaus arose. Contact with Klaipeda was via ferry.
There was a fort in operation in Kopgalis from 1865-1871. Around 1895 it lost its strategic value and was abandoned. Retreating Germans in WWII blew up the fort. In 1979 the buildings of Kopgalis were restored. A sea museum and dolphinarium were later built here.
First Lithuanian sea captain, Samogitian, Liudas Stulpinas (1871-1934) was buried between Kopgalis and Smiltyne. The remains of writer Jonas Zilius-Jonila also rest on the same hill.
This settlement is south of Kopgalis across from Klaipeda.
It is known that a tavern was located in Smiltyne during the reign of the Teutonic Knights. The settlement started to suffer from drifting sands in the 16th century. In the 1800’s it was buried twice. Anti-erosion plants were planted around the dunes of Smiltyne in 1836. In 1862 Klaipeda bought Smiltyne.
In 1865 a 100+ m boardwalk was built here. The inhabitants of Klaipeda started to use Smiltyne as a resting place at that point, since it had a perfect beach.
In 1978 Smiltyne and Kopgalis were unified under the name of Smiltyne. Kopgalis and Smiltyne still belong to Klaipeda and are a favorite resort for its inhabitants.
Neringa City territory starts at the fifth kilometer of the Klaipeda-Nida road.
This is the smallest settlement of the Curonian Spit of which one homestead remains.
Juodkrante (called Schwarzor [Germ.] until the beginning of the 20th century)
- This is one of the oldest settlements of the Curonian Spit. It is located on the Lagoon shore on both sides of the highway connecting Klaipeda with Kaliningrad. Klaipeda is about 18 km from here. It is believed that the name “Juodkrante” comes from the words “juodas” (black) and “krantas” (shore).
- In 1990 there were 670 permanent residents of Juodkrante.
- Numerous relics from the Stone Age were found around this settlement. Until WWII these relics were exhibited in Kaliningrad’s Prussios Museum, however now they have been dispersed among various German museums.
- Juodkrante was first mentioned in historical sources in 1429.
- In 1861 there were 222, in 1871—512, in 1885—851, and in 1905 there were 465 inhabitants in Juodkrante.
- After the old wooden church, which had been transferred from the buried village Karvaiciai, burned down in 1878, a new, brick, Evangelical Lutheran church was built in 1885 which is in operation to the present day.
- The first vacationers came to Juodkrante in 1840. Juodkrante was named a resort in the middle of the 19th century. It became renowned as a place for relaxation in the beginning of the 20th century.
- Between World Wars, about 600 people lived in Juodkrante and 4,000 people came to spend their summers here.
- In 1939, 15 hotels and summer homes were in operation in Juodkrante.
- After WWII Juodkrante and the other northern parts of the Curonian Spit came under the control of Lithuania.
- Juodkrante was incorporated into Neringa City in 1961.
- 33 km separate Pervalka from Klaipeda.
- In 1842 part of the fisher population that lost their homes in Naujieji Nagliai to sand drifts moved to Pervalka and established a settlement here. From 1880-1881 the sand drifts came dangerously close to Pervalka and the village moved 1.5 km northward.
- Currently there are about 40 permanent residents in Pervalka. They are fishers, tourist industry workers, and foresters.
- Pervalka was incorporated into Neringa City in 1961.
- Pervalka is the smallest settlement on the Curonian Spit after Alksnyne.
- This is the third largest settlement of the Curonian Spit located 9 km north of Nida. It is 39 km from Preila to Klaipeda.
- Preila was established by the former inhabitants of the buried Naujieji Nagliai settlement in 1836-1843.
- In 1849 there were 84 inhabitants of Preila and in 1919—238. The majority of the inhabitants were fishers.
- Relics from the Stone Age have been found around Preila.
- Preila belongs to Neringa City since 1961.
- Neringa City’s administrative center is located 48 km from Klaipeda.
- According to R. Rimantiene, the ancient inhabitants of Nida came to live here 2000 BCE.
- Nida is first mentioned in documents of the Teutonic Knights by the names of Noyken and Noyden.
- That settlement was established not far from the Baltic coast—a few km from present-day Nida—about the middle of the Spit. That settlement is termed Old or First Nida. In the second half of the 17th century, the drifting dunes came nearer the village and finally buried it in 1675. The inhabitants moved to a safer place (“Death” or “Silence” Valley) about 0.5 km north of Old Nida and closer to the Lagoon. Gradually, the Second Nida Settlement formed here. However, the dunes moved closer to this settlement as well. Second Nida was buried in 1732. The inhabitants of Second Nida moved even closer to the Lagoon to the site of present-day Nida and established the Nida and Skruzdyne settlements. Five families of buried Naujieji Nagliai established Purvyne, located in present-day Nida’s territory, in 1830. These three former villages—Nida, Skruzdyne, and Purvyne—make up present-day Nida. All three settlements are connected by a 2 km road. Previously, the majority of inhabitants were fishers.
- In 1933 Nida was granted resort privileges and an ethnographic museum and gliding school were established.
- 1630 permanent residents of Nida were recorded in 1990. About 50,000 people vacation in Nida every year.
- Neringa’s width at Nida is 2 km.
Tourist attractions in Nida:
- 1. Ethnographic Museum (Nagliu 2), Commerce Museum (Kuverto 2)
- 2. Thomas Mann’s Home
- 3. Kazimieras and Virginija Mizgiriai’s “Amber Gallery” (Pamario 20). Reproductions of the 19th century Juodkrante treasure are exhibited here. The treasure consisted of about 400 amulets and pieces of jewelry dated to 4,000 BCE.
by Danute Mukiene
For most people who know this person, he is a symbol of the merging of the Curonian Spit’s past and present. Folk artist Eduardas Jonusas is known not only in his homeland of Samogitia, but also on the Curonian Spit. He is a wood carver, painter, ethnographer. Tens of times he has walked and sailed the length and width of the Curonian Spit. Eduardas has restored the ancient tombstones in Nida’s cemetery, has formed a weathervane collection, and has built a kurenas (a type of boat popular in Curonia’s past) according to authentic blueprints. Nida is the site of his shrine—his creative workshop. Not only Eduardas creates in the studio which has become a museum. Over the summers, a number of Eduardas’ artistic peers come to stay here for some time. Foreigners, mostly Germans, stop by here as well. They are interested in Eduardas’ work and the atmosphere which he has created. E. Jonusas has organized exhibitions of his work in Lithuania and in Germany over the past few years.
by Nijole Strakauskaite
There were many fateful eras in the Curonian Spit’s history which radically affected the lives of its inhabitants as well as the environmental development. The 19th century is one of the most dynamic times on the Curonian Spit due to the spreading of civilization. The most important events were that people learned how to cope with the catastrophic erosion of the dunes (which almost wiped out the Curonian Spit), the Spit became an industrial center because of its amber supply, and the Spit became renowned as one of the most attractive places to vacation and relax on the Baltic coast.
Flora of the Curonian Spit
- by Dr. Zivile Lazdauskaite
- The vegetation on the Curonian Spit is varied and unique due to the specific climate conditions of the sea coast. There are about 700 types of plants found on the Spit, 100 of which were brought to the Spit by humans—on purpose as well as inadvertently. The prevailing plants are those, which adapt well to infertile and unstable sands.
- There are no plants on the beach itself. They begin to appear at the base of the dune ridges. These hydrochloric soil plants are called halophytes. Outside the dunes grow birches, solitary pine and fir trees, as well as black alders (where the ground water is not too deep). The oldest and most beautiful forests are on the ancient parabolic dunes near Nida and Juodkrante. The Large Dunes are covered by mountain pines. Humans planted these trees.
- 17 rare and protected plants, listed in Lithuania’s Red Book, can be found on the Curonian Spit. The green covering of the Spit is very fragile and can only be restored by long periods of peace, should it be damaged.
From the History of the Karvaiciai Parish Church
- by Darius Barasa
- This publication is a short overview of the history of the village Karvaiciai. Although Karvaiciai does not exist today, it was one of the most important settlements of the 17th and especially the middle of the 18th century.
- After Karvaiciai was buried beneath sand, Juodkrante inherited the functions as well as the grants obtained for the Karvaiciai church. Until 1860, Juodkrante was merely an obscure fishing village.
The Emblem of Neringa
by Danguole Zelvyte
- The Neringa City was founded in 1961. Artist Arunas Tarabilda created Neringa’s emblem in 1967-1968. The emblem pictured the fishing boats, called kurenai, of the villages of the Curonian Spit as well as weathervanes, which were established in the middle of the 19th century by the Rusne lagoon inspection. Preparing a new emblem for Neringa, it was noticed that everything was not accurately pictured on the 1968 emblem. Therefore, at the request of Neringa’s inhabitants, the symbol of Rasyte was replaced in the new emblem with an empty silver background to symbolize Karvaiciai and 16 other villages in Neringa’s territory buried beneath the sand. Neringa’s emblem created by A. Tarabilda was corrected by architect Ricardas Kristapavicius. Lithuania’s Heraldic Commission approved Neringa’s emblem on January 23, 1997. The President of the Republic of Lithuania confirmed the emblem on February 18, 1997 (Decree no. 1209).
- The emblem’s shield is divided into 6 black and silver fields. Rectangle fields of the emblem symbolize Nida, triangles symbolize Preila, a rhombus symbolizes Purvynes of Nida, the silver field symbolizes Karvaiciai and other villages buried under sand, a cross stands for Juodkrante, and a rectangle symbolizes the historical kurenai’s weathervanes of Pervalka village’s fishers. Against the blue backdrop at the bottom of the shield is a silver letter “N,” which symbolizes the city Neringa.
by Gintautas Ciziunas
The Curonian Spit has a sea climate. As a rule, spring comes a little late, but autumn is longer and warmer than in the rest of Lithuania. It is warmest in August (average temperature around 17 C) and coldest in January and February (about -2.5 C). The total number of sunny days on the Curonian Spit is higher than in the rest of Lithuania. Northwestern and southwestern winds prevail here. Wind velocity can reach 30-40 m/s during storms.
The Curonian Spit National Park
by Danute Ramonaite
- The area of the Park is 26,500 hectares. 9,800 hectares of this number is dry land and 16,700 is water. The sea occupies 12,500 hectares and the lagoon 4,200.
- The purpose of the Park is to preserve the Large Dune’s ridge, the gray dunes of Agilo-Nagliu territory, the ancient parabolic dunes near Juodkrante, sea and lagoon plains, the ancient forest soils (which have been buried beneath a layer of sand), the sea-side dune ridges, the flora and fauna of the Spit, the remnants of ethnic culture, the historic homes of fishers, the old resorts and other monuments of Nida, Preila, Pervalka, Juodkrante, and Smiltyne. In addition, the Park seeks to preserve an unchanging ecological system, to organize preservation of nature and monuments, to propagate ideas of environmental protection, to preserve the material and spiritual inheritance of the inhabitants of the Curonian Spit, and to promote the Park territory’s traditional activities: fishing, tourism, and forestry.
- The National Park is divided into the following zones:
- 1. Reservation
- 2. Preservation
- 3. Protected
- 4. Recreational
- 5. Inhabited
Important Facts About the Curonian Spit
by Gintautas Ciziunas
- The Curonian Spit is a peninsula separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.
- The northern (and largest) part of the Spit (from Kopgalis to Pilkopos) belongs to the Republic of Lithuania. The other part belongs to Russia (Kaliningrad region). The Curonian Spit belonged to Prussia until WWI.
- Of the Spit’s northern part belonging to Lithuania, 800 hectares are overseen by Klaipeda and 25,600 hectares are under the care of Neringa City.
- Toward the southern end (near Zelenogradsk), the Curonian Spit joins the Semba peninsula.
- The area of the Spit is 180 km sq. The length is about 97 km. The total amount of sand in the Spit is about 2 km cubed.
- The widest part of the Spit around Bulvikis Cape (4 km northeast of Nida) is 3.8 km. The most narrow part of the Spit near Sarkuva (Liepsnojus settlement, the Karaliaucius region) is 380 m. 500 m separate Smiltyne (the old ferry site) from the Klaipeda Lagoon.
- The area of most beaches is about 10-50 m.
- Forests occupy 6852 hectares (=70% of the dry land).
- In 1961, the main settlements of the Lithuanian part of the Curonian Spit—Alksnyne, Juodkrante, Pervalka, Preila, Nida—were united into Neringa City. “Neringe” is a German word meaning a long strip of sand.
- Today there are about 2,600 permanent residents of Neringa.
- About 8,000 tourists visit Neringa every day during the summer season. Off-season, Neringa gets about 1,000 visitors per day.
- The resorts of Neringa can accommodate 5,000 guests. Smiltyne also has rest homes welcoming visitors.
- In 1991, in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, the Curonian Spit National Park was established. This is the longest national park in Lithuania.
Historical Museum of Neringa
- by Eleonora Jonusiene
- Since July 13, 1933, the Historical Museum of Neringa, established in Nida, has been concerned with protecting the historical and cultural valuables of the Curonian Spit. The Museum’s work came to a halt during the occupation of Klaipeda in WWII. All exhibits of the Museum were lost at that time.
- After the war, Klaipeda Ethnographic Museum director B. Elertiene became interested in the cultural artifacts of the Curonian Spit. She started collecting materials for exhibits and seeking premises for the Museum. On September 16, 1969, the Museum opened its doors in the former Lutheran Church of Nida.
- The Executive Committee of Neringa City allocated the Museum an ice-damaged fisher homestead in 1974. The authentic late 19th, early 20th century fisher’s homestead was recreated with the western building, the well, the yard buildings, and the original gardens.
- With the Atgimimas (“Rebirth”) of Lithuania in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, the home of the Museum for two decades was returned to the Lutheran and Catholic communities. After the Museum was closed, the exhibits were put into storage and the Museum ended its work.
- At this time, the Museum has two exhibits: the ethnographic fisher homestead and the Spit’s inhabitants’ craft exhibition—opened in 1995 on rented grounds. A new exposition, a modern hall for exhibits and chamber music, and an archive are to be established at Pamario 53.
Sundial on the Parnidzio Dunes
by Vitalija Jonusiene
- From an astronomical point of view, the Parnidzio Dune is an ideal place (and the only suitable one in Lithuania) for a sundial. An absolute mathematical horizon opens up here. Only from this point can one see the sun rising out of and setting into the water—from the Lagoon into the Sea. This structure symbolizes not only the passage of time, but also the interaction of natural elements—wind, sand, and water—on the Spit.
- The Parnidzio Dune raises up the sundial 53 m. This is the highest point on the Spit. The Nida Sundial carries on the astronomical traditions of the ancient Baltic tribes. Similar principles of the Sundial were used to build observatories designed for calendar measurements throughout Lithuania. The architecture of the sundial on Parnidzio Dune accents the superiority of nature and the memory of culture. It is believed that this site will become one of the main attractions in Nida or perhaps even a ritual like the famous bridge in Palanga.
- These are ancient fishing boats which historical sources start to mention in the 12th century. At this time, the kurenai are a symbol of the Curonian Spit just as are the weathervanes, the tombstones, and the moving dunes. These boats started to phase out before WWII with the arrival of motorboats.
- After the war, the visitors of Nida could only encounter a kurenas in the Museum at the fisher’s homestead. However, during the summers one can now see kurenai sailing in the Lagoon. Some time ago, folk artist and Spit researcher Eduardas Jonusas became interested in the kurenai. After studying the ancient kurenai blueprints and consulting with the older builders of kurenai, E. Jonusas and his son Jovas built a kurenas in two years and let her into the Lagoon on June 12, 1993.
- Currently visitors to the Curonian Spit can admire kurenai at Smiltyne and Nida. There is also the option of going for a sail in one of these old-fashioned sail boats in the summer.
NATURAL MONUMENTS IN THE CURONIAN SPIT NATIONAL PARK
- Angiu Dune - the northern entry into Nida. Driving to Nida it is on the right side of the road.
- (Currently sailors inhabit it.)
- Agilos Dune - a strip of moving dunes on the Pervalka side between Pervalka and Juodkrante. It is
- not far from Lydumo Cape and Nagliu Bay by the former Nagliu settlement.
- Karvaiciu Dune - near the Pervalka settlement. (Between Old Karvaiciai and Karvaiciai village
- buried under sand in 1787.)
- Lydumo Cape - a strip of moving dunes between Juodkrante and Pervalka by Nagliu Bay. You
- must sail by boat or walk the dunes.
- Nagliu (Agilos) Cape - a strip of moving dunes on the Lagoon side between Juodkrante and
- Pervalka. It is the second cape coming from Juodkrante. You must sail by boat or walk
- along the Lagoon.
- Raganu (“Witches’”) Hill - Juodkrante. This hill features a unique exposition—over 80 wood
- sculptures of characters from Lithuanian folk tales and legends.
- Skripsto Dune - located near the Pervalka settlement.
- Urbo Hill - the Nida lighthouse stands on this hill.
- Vecekrugo Dune (Senosios Smukles/”Old Tavern’s” Dune) - located near the Preila settlement. It
- is best reached by the old Nida-Preila road.
- Vingio Dune - a strip of moving dunes between Juodkrante and Pervalka not far from the buried
- ancient Nagliu settlement.
- Mariu Mergelio Cliff - locate at the base of Parnidzio Dune. Go from Nida along the Lagoon.
- All four settlements of Neringa with their ethnographic zones:
- NIDA - Nagliu, Lotmiskio, Pamario streets (traditional homes).
- PERVALKA - post office (house 42), and houses 2, 4, and 7.
- JUODKRANTE - the former “Kurhaus” (Kalno street 7, the former post office), New Karvaiciai
- settlement, and L. Rezos street 5-60.
- NIDA’S 19th-20th CENT. ETHNOGRAPHIC CEMETARY - located by the church in Nida on Pamario street between houses 43 and 47. Original tombstones “krikstai.”
- NIDA’S GLIDING SCHOOL - the school functioned from 1933-1939. It was the main camp in Lithuania for gliding. An arch was built on the foundations of the former hangar in 1979. Commemorating the hangar are a stone and a glider.
- From the road leading to Parnidzio Dune, walk 500 m into the forest. 240th forest section.
- G.D. KUVERTAS MONUMENT - commemorates the first person to plant trees and plants in the area of Nida. It was built in 1865 and since then restored. Located in Nida forestry service, 220th forest section at the end of Kuverto street. (Driving from Nida, it is on the right side by the main highway Klaipeda-Kaliningrad.
Traces of the Ancient Inhabitants of the Curonian Spit
by Rimute Rimantiene
- At the beginning of the 19th century, local fishers noticed traces of the ancient inhabitants of the Curonian Spit in the open, wind-blown sand plains of Neringa. They informed the fishing inspector V. Berbomas (Beehrboohm) working on Vente Cape that they had found shards of pottery. The inspector found three relics of the Stone Age when he finally went there in 1932—they were remnants of the inhabitants of the Nida, Parnidzio, and Grobsto Cape.
- A 1973-1978 archeological expedition of the Lithuania Historical Institute concluded that the first settlers came to the Curonian Spit when it was still a string of separate islands. Channels connected the Sea with the Lagoon. The fresh water lagoons formed in the middle of the channels were an ideal place for people to settle. They were separated from the Lagoon by parabolic dunes, which were covered with luxurious, broad-leaved forests. It was a fertile and prosperous territory and did not turn into wasteland until the 18th century.
- The first inhabitants settled around 3,000 BCE. They were fishers and hunters of the Narva culture. They made modestly decorated pots of clay and sea shells that had pointed bottoms. There were very few inhabitants. Traces of their small settlements were found in the 19th century in the Klampsmelis region not far from Juodkrante and more recently at research sites near Nida. There should obviously be more artifacts, since the famous amber treasure found at the bottom of the Lagoon near Juodkrante in the mid-1800’s had many figurines and much jewelry typical of the Narva culture.
- However, the Curonian Spit was mostly settled during the late Neolithic time period (early 3000 and late 2000 BCE). These were Virveline (“Rope”) ceramic inhabitants of the Pamariai culture. Their most definite traces were found around the Nida settlement.
Churches of Nida
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nida
This church was built in 1887-1888. From 1966-1988 this was the site of the Curonian Spit Historical Museum, after which time the Church was given back to the Evangelical and Lutheran community. Now Catholic as well as Lutheran services are held here. The main altar of the Church was restored from 1990-1992. An organ was installed in 1984. Since 1988, organ music festivals, poetry readings, and advent, chamber, and choral music concerts take place in the Church.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Juodkrante
The Church was built in 1885. Unique stained glass windows decorate the Church’s interior. During Soviet times this was the site of a figurine museum. In 1989 the Church was returned to the Evangelical Lutherans. Now here, as in Nida, Lutheran and Catholic services are offered at the Church.
Artists of Nida
- According to current data, it is supposed that the first artists visited Nida in the 1880’s. They came from the Karaliauciai Art Academy and a number of them practically lived in Nida permanently. They would gather at the house of Hermann Blode. Ernst Mollenhauer was the then proprietor of this famous artist hotel. A quote from the hotel’s promotional material reads, “Artists have found Nida. They were the heralds of this corner of paradise, which mesmerized them again and again and inspired their creations. Here, between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, a second Worpswede has formed, which has not lost its mesmerizing influence on artists-creators. Here, surrounded by irreplaceable and unique scenery, among people reflecting the native land, the artist is able to choose impressions which create deeply moving works of art.”
- The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century found the fishing village of Nida truly an artist colony. Artists would meet at Hermann Blode’s place. There would be drink, song, discussion, happily spent time. Paintings created in Nida decorated the walls. Years went by. Nida began to attract more and more visitors as well as artists from other countries. They became bedazzled promoters of the beauty of the Curonian Spit.
Thomas Mann and Nida
by Vitalija Terese Jonusiene
Thomas Mann visited Nida with his family for the first time in August of 1929 after a vacation spent in Rauschen. In the summer of 1930, Mann built himself a summer home on Uosves Hill reminiscent of the fishers’ homes of the Curonian Spit. On July 16, 1930, the Nobel Prize laureate writer once more came to Nida with his family. Mann worked intensively during his vacation. The writer spent three summers here (1930-1932). Because of political differences, Mann was forced to leave his homeland. In 1936 his German citizenship was revoked and in 1939, after the occupation of the territory of Klaipeda, the Reich took over the author’s home and established in it a hunting house for Gering. After the war, there were plans to demolish the house. In 1965, the house was handed over to the Ieva Simonaityte Library. After that, the building was restored and a three-part memorial exposition on Thomas Mann was formed. On July 14, 1967, the summer home opened its doors to visitors and soon became an important site for literary conventions, a place for making contacts, and a symbolic bridge to Europe for those who admired and researched Thomas Mann. In preparation for the centennial of the writer’s birth, the exposition was supplemented, the grounds taken care of, and the tiled roof was replaced with one made from reeds. In the summer of 1987 the summer home saw the first seminar “Thomas Mann and Lithuania.” These seminars have become a tradition and are organized every year. Neringa City granted the house the status of a memorial museum in 1996.
The Land Honors Its Hero
by Ruta Zeimiene
The Curonian Spit is connected with the fate of many of its former inhabitants. One such person was Liudvikas Reza. His road was one of a bright person, an ardent Lithuanianist, and a person working in the “Sajudis” (“movement”) against the Germanization of Lithuania Minor. This is portrayed in A. Jovaisa’s book “Liudvikas Reza.” Reza furthered Lithuanian literature by publishing Donelaitis’ “Metai” and short stories. Perhaps his greatest work was a collection of songs. The memory of this person is held sacred in Neringa. From the trunk of a centuries-old oak, folk artisan E. Jonusas created a memorial sculpture. The 7-meter-high Lagoon dweller looks out as if in search of his home Karvaiciai, which had been buried forever beneath the sands of the moving dunes. An excerpt from his poem “Nugrimzdes Kaimas” (“The Sunken Village”) is carved into the trunk of the oak. On April 30, 1994, another memorial to the famous countryman was unveiled in Juodkrante.
Traditional annual commemorations of this patriot, “Rudens Poezija” (“Autumn Poetry”), and traditional dialect speech contests are proof that scientist, ethnographer, poet, and great cultural worker Liudvikas Reza is indeed still alive.
Professor A. Bezzenberger and the Curonian Spit
by Nijole Strakauskiene
- Adalbert Bezzenberger was born in Kasel, Germany in 1851. He studied at Gotingen and Munich Universities. He received his doctorate in 1880 at Karaliaucius University and worked there until his death. The life of Adalbert Bezzenberger (1851-1922), renowned German linguist, archeologist, ethnographer, and historian, is closely tied with the Curonian Spit, which he first saw in 1880 and which remained important to him the rest of his life.
- Bezzenberger achieved much in Lithuanian studies for professional reasons, however, his love of foreign languages was also apparent. He always returned to the topic of the Curonian Spit—it was an important facet of his work and his very existence. In 1914, Bezzenberger gave a lecture which contained the following words:
- Many things are already lost—songs first of all. People can no longer sing their old songs
- and that is mournful. The danger of their profession has made them a closed and admirably
- serious people. These characteristics together with unshakable strength give them a certain
- charm. They have a peaceful and calm character, which attracts those of us associating with
Animals of the Curonian Spit National Park
by Danute Mukiene
- The pride of the Curonian Spit is its moose. About 30 are counted as living on the Spit. There are about 200 deer and about 100-120 boars and foxes. There are squirrels, gray hares, Ussurian dogs, martens, and a few otters. Seldom does one run into a badger or a weasel.
- Hunting is permitted only in a 7581 hectare plot of the Curonian Spit National Park. Hunting is otherwise prohibited in the reservation areas.
- The Curonian Spit is a favorite place for birds. About 100 varieties of birds build their nests here, 9 of which are found in Lithuania’s Red Book.
- One of the rarest birds found on the Spit is the sea eagle. The Curonian Spit is becoming famous for its colonies of gray herons and large cormorants living near Juodkrante. The Spit is home to the largest heron colony in Lithuania.
- Vernal and autumnal bird migratory patterns cross the Curonian Spit. During clement flying weather, up to 1 million birds fly over the Curonian Spit. Birds are observed at an ornithological station established by the Kaunas Zoological Museum located 5 km north of Pervalka. There is a bird tracking center on the Curonian Spit as well.
Long-nosed seals sometimes appear on the shores of the Curonian Spit. They are bred in the Klaipeda Sea Museum and Aquarium, since they are rare and included in Lithuania’s Red Book.
The Curonian Spit is most proud of its migrating pine moth, whose caterpillars are the most poisonous of all known caterpillars. The Curonian Spit is also unique in that a number of insects characteristic of steppes live here.
The bat kinglet appeared in Smiltyne in 1986. They like to live in buildings, bird houses, and in tree hollows.
- About 70 types of fish inhabit the Baltic Sea waters belonging to the Curonian Spit National Park. The pride of the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Spit is the “goat fish,” which is a true athlete capable of jumping over fishing nets.
- Smelt, salmon, lavaret, eel, vimba, river lamprey, some sturgeon, and sterlets are found in the Curonian Lagoon. Some transient fish listed in Lithuania’s Red book—sea lamprey and large Baltic herring—can be seen here as well. Sea fish can also be encountered in the Lagoon.
This is a collection of legends about Neringa. It was based on the 1970 publication “Neringa” published by Drs. Martynas and Valerija Anysas in Toronto from the book Famous Lithuanian Women in Mythology, Legends, and History.
Origin of Nida’s Name
- Kazimieras Buga was the first to be interested in the origin of the word “Nida.” In his “Selected Works” published in 1961 (v. 3), Buga claims that “Nida” is a word of Curonian origin semantically related to the Prussian archaic form “Neida.” The meaning is related to the concepts of stream or flowing. V. Gudelis has also been interested in the etymology of “Nida.” He has concluded that, “the name Nida is of Baltic origin. Our name Nida was born and grew up on the Curonian Spit. However, there is not enough information to recreate its prototype and determine its real parents.”
- A. Vanagas claims that, “the prior pronunciation of “Nida” was Naide, Neide, or Neidziai…”
© Samogitian Cultural
Association Editorial Board, 1998.