Neringa and Nida - wonder at Lithuania

Lithuanian story     German story
Thomas Mann. My Summer house, 1931 (in German)

Curonian Spit and Nida
Curonian Spit at Nida and southward of it - toward Russia (old Prussian land). First dune is Parnidzio one and second - Great Dune. Click the photo or this link to get the bigger and more quality view<>.

Curonian Spit (at Lithuanian, Kursiu Nerija [Kurshyu Nerrya] is the belt of sand with area of 94.4 km2 and its width from 0.5 to 4 km) has the four settlements in Lithuania (Juodkrante, Pervalka, Preila and Nida) situated on the road which is 50 km long. To get to the Spit from Klaipeda (Memel) it's necessary to take a ferry across Curonian lagoon of fresh water.

Curonian Spit ia a natural wonder created by sea, wind and man. It wasn't by chance that the renowned German geographer wilhelm von Homboldt wrote in 1809 that
"the Curonian Spit is so peculiar that if you don't want your soul to be missing a wonderful impression, you really must see it..."

People have long been trying to solve the enigma - how did the sand bank appear? Legend narrates that this place was covered with water from which a chain of the islands protruded. On the one of them a golden-haired girl was born having name Neringa (old Lithuanian name). The girl grew into a giant and helped people in all kinds of ways: to fishermen who had been carried far away from the shore, drove fish into their nets and so on.

Once the God of sea, Bangputys, became so enraged that the sea was stormy for entire year. The people began to ask Neringa to protect them from the furious waves. Neringa listened to them and began to scoop sand into her apron and pour it between the islands. This is how she made the embankment, with even today separates the sea from the peaceful bay, where fishermen can catch fish without fearing to be pulled into the deep sea.

According prof. V.Gudelis, the last glacier while receding from what is now Lithuania 9some 13,000 or 15,000 years ago) left a moraine crest on the shore of Litorina sea (precursor of Baltic sea) and formed a chain of islands. Several thousands years later the Semba Peninsula began to be destroyed by the waves and the south-western winds began to move the coastial sand to the nordth. The sand settled between the islands thus forming a short and narrow spit which stretched to what is now Nida. Later the spit became longer and longer till 4,500 or 5000 years ago. At that time the climate was warm and sand dunes was soon covered with grass and trees.

The first people appeared about 4,000 years ago. They made their living by fishing and hunting but also knews how to work the land and grow livestock. Some 500 years ago the landscape began to suffer from the surrounding community. The old dunes turned into loose hills of sand which began to creep towards the fishermen villages. In the 16th-19th centuries fourteen villages were burried by sand.


Nida is 48 km from Klaipeda. Archeologists think that people were there in 2000 B.C. They've established that Baltic tribe had already settled in the area at this time. In the beginning of the 18th century the old settlement was covered with sand of Parnidzio dune.

Nida was first mentioned in written sources in 1385 as the Crusaders moved through the spit on their way to plunder and baptize the Lithuanian lowlanders (at this time the Lithuania was still pagan State amidst Christian world). The lighthouse (23 m) at Urbas Hill (with height of 52 m, same as height of Great Dune near Nida) was built at 1874 and was destroyed by the Nazis.

Amber with inclusion, 76 KB
The Amber from K.Mizgiris's Gallery at Nida with the plant inclusion. Click the photo or this link to get the bigger and more quality view.
Amber with inclusion, 118 KB
The Amber from K.Mizgiris's Gallery at Nida with the inclusion of Shel of gasteropoda, Centipede and Stick insect. Click the photo or this link to get the bigger and more quality view.

German writer and Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Mann spent the summers of 1930-1932 in Nida. He called this place as 'finest in the world'.

The Baltic sea is famous with its amber. The amber was formed during two millions years from resin and tar and has many forms, colours and mysterious fossills. An insects caught in tar 2 mln. years ago seems as if it were alive today. At Lithuania you can see amber jewellery in many places. At Nida is the Kazimieras Mizgiris's private Amber Gallery - the good place to visit at cloudly day.

The study of ancient life trapped in fossilized tree resin has a renaissance. You'll learn that DNA can indeed be preserved for millions of years and that both vertebrates and invertebrates are found in amber deposits. Images and text describe human use of amber for art and ornament for over 13,000 years. Many samples with termites, geckoes, feathers and so are presented.

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Thomas Mann. My Summer house, 1931 (in German)
Photos while the voyage from Nice (France) to Nida (Lithuania)
English homepage of Vartiklis