My Native Town Klaipėda

My Native Town

Klaipėda is the third city in Lithuania considering the number of population. Today it is the only seaport in Lithuania which maintains trade routes between this country and the rest of the world. Klaipėda is the only city that boasts beaches, the Maritime Museum & Aquarium. However, a very long time ago, it was very different from what it is now.

Our seaport is very old. In fact, it is older than the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius and even older than the country itself. The history of Klaipėda spans 800 years, from the mid thirteenth century. The strange thing is that Klaipėda which is viewed as being an inseparable part of Lithuanian culture today, has actually got old German roots. In the year 1252, the German Livonian Ordin built Memelburgh‘s Castle on the coast in the estuary of the river Danė. The region belonged to the Livonian Ordin then. If you studied the history of this city carefully, you would learn it has always been shaped by two different cultures: the Lithuanian and the German. The current name of the city comes from two Baltic words ‘klaips‘ which means ‘a loaf‘ and ‘ėda‘ which means ‘eats‘, ‘is eating‘ but the Germans called the city Memel.

It was in the year 1455 that the course of Klaipėda‘s history tied to Lithuanian culture forever — it was occupied by Samogitians.

In the Middle Ages, every once a while a very large dangerous fire (in other words, an inferno) would break out to destroy the bigger part of a city. This had happened to London and Klaipėda was no exception. There have been at least two large infernos (one in the sixteenth, another in the nineteenth century) in Klaipėda which burned down a lot of wooden buildings.

Throughout its existence, Klaipėda has suffered some severe occupations. It has more than once become the object of German, Swedish, and Russian territorial expansionism. The last time our seaport was separated from Lithuania was during World War II, when Hitler made Lithuanian politicians give it back to Germany. Then he himself came to Klaipėda to make a speech from the balcony of one of the buildings in the Theatre Square.

Just like the rest of the country, Klaipėda‘s region has gone through various hardships under the Soviet regime which disrupted the traditional demographic situation. Most Germans were gone and the USSR started colonizing Klaipėda by sending Russian families over to Klaipėda to settle and live there. Even now, thirteen years after the Restoration of Lithuanian Independence we still feel the consequences: every third inhabitant in Klaipėda is Russian.

A lot of famous people were born or lived in Klaipėda or had some connection with the city. A famous astronomer, Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander was born in Klaipėda in the nineteenth century. Thomas Mann, a German writer, spent nearly his whole life in Nida which belongs to Klaipėda‘s region. In the year 1605 Simon Dach, a well-known German poet was born in Klaipėda. To honour the poet, the authorities erected Anikė sculpture in the Theatre Square. In time, it became the symbol of the city.

We can judge that Klaipėda is not just an ordinary seaport from this review. It is a real cosmopolitan city with an incredibly rich history and a complicated past.

useful expressions used in this review

to span + [period/area] eg The history of this site (website) spans five years (NOT for five years); Some codes span several lines

to go through (=to experience or suffer sth) eg He is cheerful considering all he has had to go through; The prototype outfit must go through a final close range scan before it can go into full production

to view as/as being eg When the car was first built, the design was viewed as highly original


to make/give a speech (NOT to say a speech)to erect a sculpture/castle/memorial/monument/statue

Disclaimer – I have not checked the spelling of some proper nouns (Memel(burgh), Livonian, etc.); you might come across some other mistakes in this piece of writing.