The Lithuanian Maritime Museum is located at the very end of the Curonian Spit, in the building of the old Prussian fortress of the 19th century Kopgalis. On the approaches to the museum, in the open air, an ethnographic museum is equipped - a seaside village with typical houses and buildings of fishermen. Along the coast, in open areas and embankments of defensive ramparts and casemates, collections of wooden ships, boats, anchors and ship propellers are exhibited. A two-story central redoubt houses the main marine exhibition and aquariums, and various military-historical expositions are arranged in casemates and caponiers. It must be said that strict architecture, red brick of the fortress buildings and gray granite paths became an excellent background for maritime exhibitions. The museum itself, having won the hearts of both children and adult visitors, instantly became Klaipeda's most popular attraction.
History of the fortress and ethnomuseum
The Kopgalis fortress, which was erected by the German military, was to guard the entrance to the Curonian Lagoon. However, over three decades of construction, the methods of warfare have changed dramatically, as a result the fort was considered useless, and the garrison left it in 1895. Half a century later, a new generation of German soldiers came here, who, when retreating in 1945, blew up the central redoubt along with ammunition. For a long time, the fortifications remained abandoned, crawled and overgrown with grass, until in 1969 a decision was made to create the Maritime Museum.
The road to the fortress leads past wooden fishing vessels, among them are the wreckage of the boat of Gintaras Paulenis. This enthusiast independently built the ship according to the sketches of Newfoundland ships and in 1994 decided to cross the Baltic on it. For a fortnight, he successfully reached the coast of Sweden from Klaipeda, but on the way back he fell into a fierce storm and died.
Behind the ships, the ethnographic part of the museum begins, recreating a typical estate of a Baltic fisherman. Wooden buildings built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries were transported here from villages near Palanga and Sventoji.
In addition to residential buildings, there are a bathhouse, a stable, a barn, a glacier cellar, a smokehouse. Fishing tackle, navigation tools, boat parts and models of fishing boats are also on display.
Aquarium and main museum
The aquarium is located on the first floor of the central redoubt. 34 aquariums are equipped here both for fish in the Baltic region and for exotic tropical creatures, including jellyfish and penguins. In the center of the hall is a round pool with a diameter of 20 m with a huge flock of sea trout.
The gray Baltic seals, which are bred at the museum, and then released “into the wild” into the moat surrounding the fortress, also attract general attention.
Most of the second floor is reserved for the exposition of marine fauna: a collection of shells, corals, fossils and prehistoric mollusks. Actually, the basis of the museum itself was the shells brought from around the world by Lithuanian sailors, now this collection is recognized as the largest in Europe. It also contains professional sculptures of the most dangerous marine animals. In other sections, the story of the origin of life on Earth and the evolution of marine species.
Dolphinarium of the Maritime Museum
In 1994, a dolphinarium was opened at the Maritime Museum. It is worth noting that there is nothing like it on the entire coast of the Eastern Baltic. The performances involved Black Sea dolphins, fur seals and even two California seals from the Duisburg Zoological Garden. The performance hall is designed for 1000 spectators, and this is no coincidence - exciting shows deservedly enjoy great popularity and love of the audience.
Address: Klaipeda, ul. Smiltines, 3.
How to get there: on the way from the center of Klaipeda to the museum you need to cross the Curonian lagoon. This can be done on a small boat through the old ferry (designed for pedestrians and cyclists) or on a modern ferry through a new ferry (for cars). In the first case, the car can be left in the square before the crossing and a 15-minute walk along the seashore. If you cross with the machine, then you can leave it in a free parking lot right in front of the museum.
Phone: +370 (46) 49-07-40.
Dolphin show is scheduled. From June to August, performances are held every day except Monday, the rest of the time there is a reduced working hours, it is advisable to specify the schedule immediately before the visit. There is a cafe at the dolphinarium; for group visits, you must book a visit in advance.
Admission: 7-10 EUR, for children from 4 years: 3,50-5 EUR (depending on the season). For groups of 15 people and more: 6-9 EUR (depending on the season).
Prices on the page are for September 2018.
Photo and description
The Lithuanian Maritime Museum in Klaipeda is considered the most popular city attraction. The museum is so popular due to several reasons.
The museum exposition is presented at the northern end of the Curonian Spit. The museum building occupies the premises of the previously existing defensive fortress of the 19th century Kolgalis, which stood on this site until the end of World War II. An interconnected fortification system combined a central redoubt, ramparts with casemates, underground, a defensive moat and gunpowder warehouses. At the end of World War II, the fortress was almost completely destroyed by the explosion of the central redoubt and for a long time fell into desolation. Only in 1979 the fortification was subject to reconstruction, and since that time the main exposition of the Maritime Museum has been located in the building.
A visit to the museum will bring real pleasure not only to children, but also to adults. The exposition was very well solved, and the combination of strict military architecture and colorful flowers of marine flora and fauna creates not only an amazing picture, but also a pleasant impression.
The Klaipeda Maritime Museum consists of several departments: the aquarium, the Curonian Spit Nature Museum, the Dolphinarium and the Maritime Museum itself.
On the way to the fortress, you can get to the museum itself, next to which there is a trawl boat and a trawler, the house of Schweitoy and Palanga - 19th century fishermen. Here you can get acquainted with the everyday life features of fishermen. Also, along the road you can see the ship, which was built by the fisherman Gintaras Paulenis, who, not being a sailor, built the ship, based on the ancient drawings of the Newfoundland ships.
Under the mounds of the fortress in casemates, where gunpowder deposits were previously stored, there is an exposition of the Lithuanian history of shipping, which begins from Peter I and ends with the construction of atomic icebreakers. On the former gun sites there is a collection of not only old, but also modern anchors, as well as propellers. At a short distance from the fortress, closer to the shore of the bay, is an ethnographic museum.
The museum aquarium is built in the building of the old fort. In it you can find penguins, fur seals and lions. Water shows are available for viewing with the participation of sea lions and Black Sea dolphins. In this part of the Maritime Museum, 34 small aquariums and one large diameter of 20 meters are presented for viewing, which contain more than 100 species of fish and fish of the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. The rare Baltic gray seals are also represented in the aquarium; they are specially bred in the museum in order to be released into the wild.
The marine fauna exposition includes various collections of exhibits: about 50 species of fossils, mollusk shells, trilobites, shark teeth, and exhibits representing objects from the time of the dinosaurs. You can consider the sculptures made by professionals of the most dangerous marine animals.
The main pride of the Maritime Museum is the dolphinarium, which opened in 1994. Dolphinarium in Klaipeda is the only one on the coast of the eastern Baltic. Dolphinarium shows are held in the central largest pool. From the presentation you can learn a lot of interesting things about dolphins living in the Black Sea. For visitors provided 1000 seats.
In the dolphinarium, in addition to dolphins and fur seals, there is also a pair of California seals that are grown in a zoological garden in the city of Duisburg in Germany.
Today, marine sciences are of considerable importance, because with their help a person can think about how important it is to protect and protect the surrounding nature. In addition, health companies have been conducting in dolphinariums since 2002: they treat children’s mental illnesses with dolphin therapy.
Time and cost of visiting
The Maritime Museum and Aquarium was closed for renovation in 2016.
In dolphinariums, performances take place according to different schedules. In winter, only on Fridays at 12.00 and weekends at 12.00 and 15.00. In spring and autumn, an additional performance is added on Fridays at 15.00 hours.
Most of the performances in the peak season, this is in the summer. In June, the work schedule is from Tuesday to Sunday at 12.00, 14.00, 16.00 hours. In July and August in the dolphinarium they are waiting for you on the same days as in June, only at 11.30, 13.00, 15.00, 16.30 hours.
In the summer months the performance for an adult will cost 9 euros, for children 6 euros, in other months of the year 7 and 4 euros, respectively.
How to get there
To get to the maritime museum and the dolphinarium is possible only by ferry. The old crossing is intended for pedestrians and cyclists and is only 1.6 km away. You will have to walk to the museum from the crossing or you can use the services of horses and ride in a carriage.
Those traveling by car or bus should take the new ferry. Only the distance will be already 7 km.
You can leave your car in a free parking lot, not far from the museum.