The popular sea-side resort of Palanga is one of Lithuania's oldest settlements not far from the city of Klaipeda. Linguists associate its name with the archaic Balt tribe word pala ,meaning low marshy place. The town was an important trade center by the 12th-13th century and is first mentioned in German chronicles in 1253. The Teutonic Order attempted to conquer these lands several times, but they were ultimately given to Lithuania by the Treaty of Brasta in 1435. Sources from the 17th century state that the ports of Palanga and Šventoji competed with those of Riga and Liepaja. This was the case until the Swedes destroyed the Lithuanian ones in 1701.
The history of the present-day resort began when count Michal Tyszkiewicz, a colonel in the tsar's army, bought the village and surrounding land in 1824. He and his heirs established an adjacent estate, created a park, and funded the construction of several public buildings in Palanga. It was all inherited in 1891 by the youngest son Feliks, who built an ornately carved wooden Kurhaus at the corner of what are now Vytauato and J. Basanaviciaus streets in 1880. With its hotel, restaurant, café, library, billiard room, ballroom, cinema, the towns first artesian well and first electric light bulb, the Kurhaus was the heart of the resort for a good several years. Fire destroyed it in 2002.
In 1893 Feliks Tyszkiewicz began to build a new estate within Palanga itself. An elegant historicist style manor-house appeared beside Birutes Hill in 1902. French landscape architect Edouard Francois André and his son René Edouard outfitted the estate park with ponds, lawns, rosaries, tree clusters, pavilions, gazebos, elegant sculptures and vases, fountains and a tennis court. The manor-house had decorations of paintings, tapestries, unique works of applied art, and an intriguing collection of archaeological amber pieces. Part of this collection can be found at the amber museum, established here in 1963. The museum provides information on the formation and dispersal of amber, its trade routes, refinement en usage.
A wooden pier (1892) built for the short-lived Palanga-Liepaja steamboat run soon became a favourite promenade and sunset watching area for vacationers. A storm destroyed it in 1996 and rebuilding on cement piles followed. A barn at the approach to the pier was in 1899 the site for the first public performance in Lithuanian. It was a comedy called America in the Bath-house by Antanas Vilkutaitis-Keturakis.
The popular J. Basanaviciaus street used to go by the name Tyszkiewicz Boulevard. Palanga's celebrated attractions line Vytauto street, which runs from the park gate through the town parallel to the sea and pass a red brick neo-gothic church across the street from a monument to Soviet soldiers killed during the Second World War.
Palanga Amber Museum
The Palanga Amber Museum is part of the Lithuanian Art Museum. The town's Amber Museum (Palangos gintaro muziejos) is in the Palace of Count Feliks Tyszkiewicz, built in 1897. The display reflects the centuries old history of amber formation. The museum boasts a unique collection of amber pieces with inclusions and fossil resins, and the ancient amber and brass jewellery pieces from the coastal burial sites dating back to the 2nd - 12th centuries.
Of interest are the amber pieces from the 17th to 19th century and an amber workshop arranged as it looked in the late 19th century. The works of contemporary amber craftsmen find their place in the museum as well. The palace chapel hosts temporary exhibitions.
|Address||Vytauto gatve 17, 00101 Palanga, Lithuania|
More information about Palanga