Thursday, June 30, 2011

Klaipeda (part 1): German city in Lithuania

Klaipeda is the 3rd largest city and my 2nd favorite city  (1st is Vilnius) in Lithuania! It is situated near the Baltic Sea, in the western part of Lithuania. Port of Klaipeda is the only port in Lithuania! Klaipeda is a nice modern city with very interesting old town. The old town is very different from other Lithuanian towns and is more similar to German towns. About 180,000 residents live in Klaipeda now.

Don’t forget to visit the Curonian Spit if you come to Klaipeda! Just take a ferry and in a few minutes you are in the wonderful land of sand and dunes!

History of Klaipeda

Klaipeda was founded in 1252. At the time the Livonian Order built a castle there called Memelburg and the town Memel began to grow around it. In 1323 Lithuanians led by the duke Gediminas conquered the town and forced the Livonian Order to sue for a truce. Knights from the Livonian Order were replaced with knights from the Prussian branch of Teutonic Order. The town was attacked by Lithuanians again later in 14th century.

In 1422 border between the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was stabilized and remained unchanged until 1919. At first Memel was part of Prussia and since 1871 it became most northern city of Germany.

After Worl War 1 Memel and its surroundings were detached from Germany and the French became temporary administrators of the region. In 1923 Lithuanians took the region by force. So it became a part of Lithuania and Memel was renamed to Klaipeda. Klaipeda had extensive autonomy and later was under the pressure and influence of Nazi German. In 1939 Germans demanded the surrender of Klaipeda and Lithuanians had to submit the ultimatum. This was Hitler’s last territorial acquisition before World Was 2.

After World Was 2 the Memel territory was incorporated into the Lithuanian SSR. The new epoch of the history of the city began (this time under the influence of Russians). Since 1991, when Lithuania regained independence, Klaipeda is a part of independent Lithuania. 

Read more about Klaipeda and interesting sights in the city on my next blog post!


Anonymous said...

Klaipeda is still called Memel and Klaipeda comes in brackets on major German maps )

Andriy Rukas said...

Thank you! I already want to go there!