Klaipėda city municipality

  Administrative centre – Klaipėda
  Area – 98 km² (1.9 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 184 657 (48.7 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Melnragė, Giruliai

Klaipėda city municipality is situated within a geographically convenient area – near the Baltic Sea and Curonian (Kuršių) Lagoon. The territory of the municipality also includes part of the Curonian (Kuršių) Spit – Smiltynė and the Island of Kiaulės Nugara (Pig’s Hump). The city is crossed by the Danė River. There are recreational forests: those of Giruliai, Klaipėda, Smiltynė, Neringa. Klaipėda also includes part of the Curonian Spit National Park. Built-up area makes up 20.4 %, forests – 18.2 %, water bodies – 11 %, roads – 4.6 %, agricultural land – 25.1 %, other land – 20.6 % of the municipality.

Klaipėda city is a county and municipal centre and ranks third in Lithuania in terms of its size. It is the only seaport in Lithuania and the port farthest to the north at the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea that does not freeze in winter.

The city (the castle of Memelburg) was first mentioned in 1252. It was the first city in Lithuania to obtain city (Lübeck) rights (in 1254). The name of Klaipėda (lot. Caloypede) was first mentioned in a letter of Vytautas the Great in 1411. In the 16th century, Klaipėda was developing particularly rapidly. The first craft shops, a merchant guild were established; shipbuilding and sea trade started. In the middle of the 18th century, Klaipėda became the largest region’s port exporting timber. By its old architecture, Klaipėda is close to Nordic counties; the extant buildings in the old town are of a vivid Fachwerk (timber-framed) style. Klaipėda joined Lithuania in 1923 and became a centre of the autonomous Klaipėda region. The port was being developed; the Trade (in 1934) and State Pedagogical (in 1935) institutes were established (both being closed in the years of Nazi power). At the end of World War II, as the Red Army was approaching, residents left the city; 60 % of buildings were destroyed. In Soviet times, as the city was being rebuilt, everything that was related to the old, especially German, culture was being destroyed.

The role of Klaipėda as the only Lithuanian seaport on the national scale is of particular importance. It is a symbol of Lithuania as a maritime country; therefore, urban development, architecture and planning first of all reflect its maritime character. The main country’s marine administration bodies, marine education and vocational training, marine culture cultivation state and public organisations, marine complex enterprises and organisations are situated, freight and passenger transit activities are coordinated in the seaport. Maritime industry (shipbuilding and repairs), maritime business (fishing, fish processing), sea transport (the seaport, terminals), centres for the preparation of marine professionals (agency service for ships) are being developed. Conditions and motivation are provided for educational, scientific and cultural activities, cooperation with national and foreign organisations; public and political activities are being concentrated. In 1991, Klaipėda University started functioning. Moreover, there are a private university and 6 colleges functioning in the city.

Historical and cultural meaning is attributed to the ensemble of Klaipėda castle and bastion, Old Town (13th century), Theatre Palace (19th century), timber-framed and brick warehouses, Queen Louise Gymnasium, Neo-Gothic building of a post office, the ensemble of university buildings (beginning of the 20th century). The Lithuanian Sea Museum with a dolphinarium attracts many guests of the city and is probably the most often visited one in the country. The space of the city is open for art – there are a lot of monuments (the Arch – a monument to the united Lithuania, monuments to Herkus Mantas, Kristijonas Donelaitis, Anikė of Tarava, Martynas Mažvydas, etc.), as well as different sculptures both in the unique Sculpture Park and most unexpected locations in the city. The History Museum of Lithuania Minor with branches – blacksmiths’, castle museums and the above-mentioned Sculpture Park – alongside archaeological research, restoration, publishing, etc. actively engages in cultural and educational activities. In the Klaipėda Art Exhibition Hall, with the largest space meant for exhibitions in Western Lithuania, efforts are made to present the most up-to-date trends of Lithuanian, foreign, modern art, works of the new generation of professional artists. In the oldest part of Pranas Domšaitis Gallery (the former Klaipėda Picture Gallery), consisting of four buildings, integrated into one complex, which was created having maintained the cosy and romantic climate of an “artist’s house”, a permanent exhibition of works of an expressionist Pranas Domšaitis was opened – 665 oils, crayons, watercolours, drawings, engravings – a present of the Lithuanian Foundation (USA) to Lithuania. Not only Klaipėda, but the entire western Lithuania is famed by Klaipėda State Drama and Musical theatres, as well as Klaipėda Puppet Theatre, Christian and Children’s and Youth theatres. Each year, at the end of July, a Sea Fest, attracting a lot of visitors, takes place in the city; the annual Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival also attracts considerable attention; the exclusive festival of Music of Changes (Permainų muzikos), which has already become traditional and by which the concert season of Klaipėda Concert Hall is usually started, also has its own specific audience; there are also many other cultural events taking place in the city.

Useful links
Klaipėda city municipality
Klaipėdos tourism and culture information centre
Klaipėda Cultural Communication Centre
Information System of the Baltic Sea Region
Cultural centre the Fishermen’s House (Žvejų rūmai)