Klaipėda city (pop. 158,900) is the northernmost ice-free port in the Baltics and the only one in Lithuania. Klaipėda cherishes 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 also from abroad. 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. Visitors can listen to the carillon music concerts given in the tower of the Old Post-office at midday on weekends. In summer the seaside enjoys intensive musical life–several festivals of serious and light music and concerts are held here. The International Pilies Jazz Festival held in late June is a real fiesta for music lovers; every year it receives new world-class stars. Žuvėdra dance sport ensemble, the most famous artistic company of Klaipėda, is a repeated European and world champion.
Klaipėda is a city suitable for recreation. Klaipėda, like the entire coast of the Baltic Sea in Lithuania, boasts excellent white sand beaches. The Seaside Regional Park, in close proximity north of the city, is attractive with beautiful landscape and unique nature. The services of accommodation and leisure activities are well developed in the city. Yachtsmen are offered 2 yachting clubs, one of which is located in the very centre of Klaipėda, like the Cruise Ship Terminal. The seaport is on the routes of cruise ships sailing on the Baltic Sea. Palanga, the biggest Lithuanian seaside resort, is located on one side, and the beautiful Curonian Spit – on the other nearby Klaipėda.
History of Klaipėda
Klaipėda has been an important commercial centre since ancient times; as early as the 13th century. Having crossed the Baltic Sea, merchants from the northern and southern countries frequented it. 1 August 1252 is considered the date Klaipėda was founded. In 1257 the city was granted the Lübeck City Rights.
Because of 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.