Klaipeda Old Town

Klaipeda Old Town

Klaipėda is the oldest Lithuanian city, in 1252 first mentioned by Memelburg's name. Until the 15th century the city would settle closer to the castle, which was located in the islands formed from Danės river arms. The castle was moved a couple of times, the city moved with it. At the end of the 15th century the southern city limits reached the current Theatre square. The major overhaul of the castle started in 1529, the territory inhabited by the citizens was used for the reconstructed castle's complex. The old inhabitants of the city were moved to the island limited by Danės river waters, which coincides with current old towns part up to Didžiosios Vandens street. Early 16th century, the major axes of the planned old town were marked: the two intersecting streets Turgaus (Market) and Tiltų (Bridges) streets. The territory of the old city was divided into small rectangles; in the late 16th century the old city street and block network was formed and it did not change much afterwards. At the main intersection were the gallows and near the bridge was a pylon of shame to which fornicators and scandalmongers were chained. From 1595 to 19th century fairs were held in the old town, which lasted for 2 weeks, many merchants would sail from farthest regions to participate in them. In the 17th century the 2 parts divided by the old Danės riverbed prospered: the old town and the so-called Odų (Skin) street district, which was later named Friedrich city. In 1722 those two parts were connected and formed what is now the old town's territory. In 17-18th century the city was surrounded by fortifications, however they were destroyed during the fires of 1540, 1678 and 1757; the most damaging was the fire of 1854, but the city recovered pretty fast after it. In the prepared restoration plan of 1856, there were no major changes only restructuring was planned. Until the middle of the 19th century, the old town performed the role of administrative, trade and spiritual life's center and when city hall and court were moved to the right Danės riverbank, then the old town turned into the commerce center. The old town held the biggest city's stores, wholesale warehouses and banks. However, the old town did not avoid the II world War - churches were destroyed, whole districts were damaged in the southern part of the old town. The remaining cultural heritage were started to look after in 1960's. In 1963 Klaipėda's old town was declared an urban monument and in 1964 first regeneration project was prepared. During 1971-1981 restoration process of around 70 old town buildings was started.