Klaipeda is not like any other town in Lithuania. Founded over 750 years ago by a narrow strait connecting the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, Klaipeda has evolved from the small knights castle-town of Memelburg to one of the most important ice-free port on the Baltic Sea.
Currently, the town is the 3rd largest in Lithuania by population and the 2nd largest by economic significance. Yet, for its residents the spirit of Klaipeda is embodied in the tidy narrow streets of Old Town, German Fachwerk houses and cosy cafés, air filled with the scent of the sea and the magic sound of the old carillon, white sand beaches, and the soothing wash of the waves.
Over the last years, the town has seen a vigorous development of infrastructure and service industry along with extensive construction of office complexes and residential houses.
In 2002, the first country’s Free Economic Zone (FEZ) has started operating, which since then has attracted around EUR 230 million investment.
In 2003, the Cruise Ship Terminal was completed, having received more than 400 calls from cruise vessels and serviced over 220 thousand passengers throughout these years. Furthermore, since 2005, several big shopping centres have opened its doors, thus adding to the town’s allure.
In addition, in July 2011, a multi-purpose indoor Švyturys Arena (total capacity over 6 000) for sporting events has been opened, which will also serve as a concert venue. No wonder that the volume of tourist traffic steadily grows year in, year out.
161 300 (2011)
Klaipeda is a major transport hub (train station, bus station, and sea port).
The service sector is dominant in Klaipeda economy.
Developed service infrastructure (> 20 hotels, > 40 cafes and restaurants).
Unemployment level is one of the lowest in the country.
Average salary is higher than the national average.
Completed / Future Construction Developments
2003 – Cruise Ship Terminal
2011 – Švyturys Arena
Under way – construction of apartment complex in Karklė (8 km from Klaipeda, 100 m from the sea)
Arriving in Klaipeda
Two highways cross the town –
Vilnius – Kaunas – Klaipeda and Klaipeda – Liepaja.
Palanga airport is 25 km north of the city.
Train station (www.litrail.lt)
Bus station (http://www.klap.lt/?ru=start):
Zelenogradsk (Russia) – 2.5 hours
Kaliningrad (Russia) – 4.5 hours
Liepaja (Latvia) – 1.5 hours
Riga (Latvia) – 4 hours
Sea port (2 ferry terminals):
Ethnic Composition, Spoken Languages
Due to its complex history, the town boasts a multinational population.
Russian-speaking residents of the town comprise around 30%. Most locals, primarily the older generation, has a good command of Russian.
The great majority of youth (under 35) are fluent in English.
Klaipeda is bisected by the River Dane.
White sand beaches and dunes.
The Seaside Regional Park (www.pajuris.info/index.php?lang=en).
The Curonian Spit National Park (www.nerija.lt/en).
4 Catholic churches, 3 Russian Orthodox churches, 1 Old Believer oratory, 1 Evangelical Lutheran church, 1 Evangelical Baptist church.
Over 10 sport centres, 2 swimming pools, 1 cinema, Mini Zoo, 3 theatres, Klaipeda Concert Hall, 4 exhibition galleries, Klaipeda University Botanical Garden, M.Mažvydas Sculpture Park, Old Town (German Fachwerk architecture).
Museums: Lithuanian Sea Museum-Aquarium, Dolphinarium (under reconstruction), History Museum of Lithuania Minor, Klaipeda Timepiece Museum, Blacksmith Museum, Castle Museum, P.Domšaitis Art Gallery.
Town Holidays / Annual Events
Klaipeda Music Spring
International Short Film Festival
Museum Night (end of May)
Klaipeda Sea Festival (July 29-31)
Klaipeda Castle Jazz Festival (June or July)
Musical Ferry (June – August) www.muzikuojantiskeltas.lt
History and Important Dates
One of the oldest towns in Lithuania.
1252 – founded by the Livonian knight Order (a Memelburg castle was built).
1540 – the Great Fire of Klaipeda destroyed the town (only 6 houses remained).
1709 – Famine and plague epidemics.
1757-62 – taken over by the Russian army. Aleksandr Suvorov was the town major.
1807-08 – serves as the interim capital of Prussian and the place of residence of the Prussian king and his family.
1854 – the last big fire.
1923 – Klaipeda was incorporated into Lithuania.
1939 – Nazi Germany reabsorbed the town and Memelland. (In 1940 Hitler personally visited the town and made a speech here.)
1945 – taken over by the Soviet army.