Lithuania Minor (Mažoji Lietuva)
A different land. The region that is home to Lithuania’s most unique places – the Curonian Spit that is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Nemunas Delta, woven with the songs of birds, the old town of Rusnė, the village of Minija, with ships sailing down its streets, Ventės Ragas, which is on the main bird migration route, and the old lighthouses of Uostadvaris and Ventės Ragas. The Klaipėda Region has different rules and different traditions. They were influenced by the Teutonic Order, the Duchy of Prussia, and the German Empire. The wheel of history has turned, but signs of the times remain. Feeling them is an amazing experience.
During World War II, Lithuania Minor was a German land. Left in terrible waste and ruin by the end of World War II, the region has now been reborn and is known for being staunchly loyal to its traditions, while also eager to introduce others to its dramatic history, customs, and way of life that are unusual even to Lithuanians. This is where the best shipbuilders and net weavers live; this is where the most fish are caught and the best fish soup is made. And this is where the best sea festival is held.
When you come to Lithuania Minor, the locals are sure to pour you a cup of kafija (coffee) and treat you to some vofeliai (waffles). Of course, this is a Germanic tradition that the Lithuanians took over. Like the habit of eating a first and second breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. Today, the people in Lithuania Minor don’t sit down at the table that frequently, but in the old, unhurried days, eating several times per day was commonplace. And today, fish reigns in this land. Nowhere else in Lithuania will you get anything that fresh. The people of Šilutė are virtuosos in catching and smoking fish and making fish soup. Go out fishing with them and see for yourself. And maybe you’ll even have a chance to try fish soup, made right there on the bank of the river.
If you start your journey through Lithuania Minor in Klaipėda, take in the charm and romance of this city. Wave to the ships on the embankment of the Danė, take the ferry to the exotic and natural Curonian Spit, covering it on foot or by bike, wade through the sand dunes and look into the distance – to where the lagoon meets the sea. Enjoy every moment here, because there are not many places like this left in the world.
On the other side of the Curonian Lagoon, count the buildings featuring Eastern Prussian architecture, and check out the Evangelical Lutheran churches, the old manors, and the well-kept homesteads. Take a ride down the rivers that serve as streets, visit the old ports and lighthouses, and set out to count the passing birds at dawn. And if you still have enough energy, hop on a kiteboard in Svencelė – they say you won’t find better wind anywhere else in Lithuania!