Klaipeda – the port city
Klaipeda is the oldest town in Lithuania beginning in 13th century. It had a colourful history as the town was once part of Prussia, Germany, France, Sweden and Soviets. Now Klaipeda is the cultural and economical capital of the Western Lithuania with around 160,000 people.
Germany had made a great influence to the town. It’s unique feature is the German built half timbered houses and the rectangular layout of the streets where once bakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths used to live an ply their trades.
The heart of the old town is the Theatre Square with a Theatre building where Richard Wagener used to conduct in his young days. In front of the Theatre building stands a a demure sculpture of Annchen from Tharau built in remembrance of the Memel born German poet Simon Dach.
Klaipeda is also famous for white sand beaches, parks and wild forests. Even the Prussian Queen Louise, whose family lived in Klaipeda in 1807 had a favourite relaxing retreat – the Klaipeda University Botanical gardens in Tauralaukis.
Klaipeda is great for recreation as there are many tracks for walking and cycling, a modern yachting club for sailing, diving and fishing clubs. Families always admire an Aquarium and a Dolphinarium, hosting shows of dolphins and sea lions.
Most importantly Klaipeda is the Lithuanian gateway to the world. As the only ice free port it was the main trading channel between the Eastern and Western Europe even in the 18th century.
Klaipeda is an attractive cruising destination. The summer months are filled with festivals starting with Street Music Day in May. The biggest draw has been the international Jazz Festival, which started right after Lithuanian independence. There is also the flamboyant five day Sea Festival with carnivals, street fairs and music everywhere.
Klaipeda of today is truly a vibrant, bohemian city with a marine spirit in which to live and work.