Klaipėda - the third largest city of Lithuania - is situated in the Western part of the country. It city covers 98,35 square kilometers.

It is an ice-free port with favourable geographical position (55o 43' North latitude, 21o 07' East longitude) on the coast of the Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon, within close distance to other Baltic sea ports: Kaliningrad (Russia) and Riga (Latvia).



The town was founded in 1252, when the Livonian Order, after occupying the coastal lands of the Balts, built a wooden castle at the mouth of the Dane river and called it Memelburg.

By the end of the II world war, the town was heavily damaged; the greater part of the Old Town was destroyed and few inhabitants remained. During the years of Soviet power (1945-90), the churches and also the many other valuable buildings, were reconstructed. Klaipeda was turned into an industrial town; it expanded and far overstepped its ancient borders. The remaining and restored Old Town preserved its old-time spirit and charm. At present, Klaipeda with its population of 205,000, ranks third among the towns of Lithuania and is one of the most important towns of the Republic with an ice-free port, stretching for 15 km along the coast of the Curonian lagoon. It is an important sea transport centre with an international ferry port.

The town has a university, music and drama theatres, museums, libraries, concert halls, culture centres, an Art Exhibition Palace, and galleries, as well as a park of sculptures, the carillon and many other historical and cultural monuments. The Old Town, with its beautiful Teatro Square, is very distinctive and inviting.

 

By its old architecture the seaport is closer to the northern countries. Some of the buildings that have survived in the cosy Old Town have a pronounced Fachwerk style. Modern elements can also be traced.

 

Klaipėda cherishes nice marine traditions - it hosts the Sea Festival on the last weekend of July every year since 1934. This event includes a number of performances of artistic companies and craftsmen’s fairs. The festival attracts many participants and guests not only from Lithuania but from abroad, too.

 

The Kopgalis Fort complex, built in the 19th century, houses the Maritime Museum with an attractive exposition of marine nature and the history of navigation. These unique structures also accommodate a rich Aquarium and a Dolphinarium hosting shows of trained dolphins and Californian sea lions, which attract many spectators. Another interesting activity of the museum is dolphin therapy for children with disability.

       

The Lithuania Minor and Castle Museums house exhibits related to the history of the region; Pranas Domšaitis Gallery stores valuable collections of paintings; the Museums of Clocks and Blacksmith also boast interesting collections. A number of original artworks of the best national sculptors are displayed in Klaipėda Park of Contemporary Sculpture. One can listen to the carillon music concerts given in the tower of the Old Post-office at midday on weekends.

Žuvėdra dance sport ensemble, the most famous artistic company of Klaipėda, is a repeated European and world champion.

 


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