Klaipeda City Municipality
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 Kursiu 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 Kursiu 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 aninternational 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 Courtland 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, 1939 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 center of Lithuania. Of special interest is the Maritime
Museum and aquarium that boasts thousands of exhibits from many seas and oceans around the
From: "Come to Lithuania", Lithuanian Information Institute
Vilnius, 1996. Page: 119
Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial
Page updated 2003.05.15
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