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Palanga ( , is a seaside resort town in western Lithuaniamarker, on the shore of the Baltic Seamarker. It is the busiest summer resort in Lithuania and has beaches of sand (18 km long and up to 300 m wide) and beautiful sand dunes. Officially Palanga has the status of a city municipality and includes ┼áventojimarker, Nemirsetamarker, B┼źting─Śmarker and other settlements, which are considered as part of the city of Palanga.

Legend

According to a legend, there was a pagan shrine at the foot of a hill in Palanga where a beautiful priestess named Birut─Ś used to tend the ceremonial fires. Having heard of Birut─Ś's beauty, K─Östutis, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, came to make her his wife. It is written in the Lithuanian Bychowiec Chronicle that Birut─Ś "did not consent, and answered that she had promised the gods to remain a virgin as long as she lived. K─Östutis then resorted to take her by force, and with great pomp brought her back to his capital, Trakaimarker, where he invited his kinsmen and celebrated with a lavish wedding..." K─Östutis was later murdered and Birut─Ś returned to Palanga and resumed serving at the shrine until her death. The legend claimed that she was buried in the hill which is now named for her.

History

Not far from Šventojimarker, archaeologists discovered an encampment which indicates that the area was inhabited some 5,000 years ago. Between the 10th and 11th centuries Palanga had been one of the main settlements of the Mēguvian lands, inhabited by the Curonians. Situated upon the trail of the ancient Amber Road, it became a center of trade and crafts.

In historical documents the name of Palanga was first mentioned in 1161 when the King Valdemar I of Denmark disembarked there with his army and captured the castle of the Curonians.

Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the inhabitants of Palanga had to confront the Teutonic Knights in the south and the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in the north. Their adversaries were unable to achieve their goal of capturing the Lithuanian sea-coast from Klaip─Śdamarker to ┼áventoji. Although Klaip─Śda (Memel) passed into the hands of the German feudal lords under the Treaty of Melnomarker, in 1422, Palanga and ┼áventoji remained under Lithuanian control. The two towns gradually developed into harbours and even greater centers of trade. British merchants established enterprises in ┼áventoji in 1685. During the Great Northern War, the Swedish Army ravaged Palanga, destroyed the harbour at ┼áventoji, and blocked up the entrance with rocks in 1701.

Palanga was purchased in 1824 by Count Micha┼é Tyszkiewicz. His grandson J├│zef Tyszkiewicz built a pier and engaged ships to transport passengers and bricks to nearby Liep─üjamarker. Palanga began to develop as a resort in the early 19th century. The pier has been a favourite spot for taking a stroll and other recreation since 1892. J├│zef Tyszkiewicz's son, Feliks Tyszkiewicz, built the neo-renaissance Ti┼íkevi─Źiai Palacemarker in 1897. The French landscape architect ├ëdouard Andr├ę designed a large park around the palace, between 1897 and 1907. The palace became a favourite gathering place for concert performances. Amongst the good friends and associates of Feliks Tyszkiewicz was the notary, Jonas Kentra.

Following the Lithuanian press ban of 1864, Palanga became an important location for the smuggling of Lithuanian publications from the west. The Rev. Marcijonas Jurgaitis, physician Liudas Vaineikis, and notary Jonas Kentra, played significant roles in this activity. After Kentra obtained official permission, a public performance featuring the comedy, Amerika pirtyje (America in the Bath), was performed in the Lithuanian language. This had previously not been permitted. However, later the Tsarist authorities deported Vaineikis and twenty-five other people to Siberia in 1901.

The Ti┼íkevi─Źiai Palacemarker's park was converted into a botanical garden in 1960. Today it contains two hundred different types of trees and shrubs, including an oak tree planted by President Antanas Smetona. The palace, now the Palanga Amber Museummarker, has an extensive collection of amber jewelry and other artifacts. Symphonic concerts as well as other musical festivals and events take place in the summer, usually in the evening.

Location

Palanga is a resort town through which the ┼áventojimarker and R─ů┼ż─Ś (Samogitian: Ron┼ż─ô) Rivers flow into the Baltic Seamarker. R─ů┼ż─Ś was formerly known as Alanga and gave Palanga its name: Palanga which literally means on the Alanga River. The Palanga municipality extends 24 kilometers from Nemirseta in the south to the Latvianmarker border in the north. Palanga is subdivided to Nemirseta, Vanagup─Ś, Kunigi┼íkiai, Manci┼íkiai, and ┼áventoji ÔÇô five neighboring fishermen villages which were united into one city following administrative changes to the area. During the time when the Klaip─Śda Region was part of Germany, Nemirseta was the northernmost village of East Prussia.

Transportation

The municipality is accessed by roads from Klaip─Śdamarker and ┼áiauliaimarker. There are no railroads in the municipality (the closest rail connection is in Kretingamarker, the capital of the Kretinga district municipality). Palanga's International Airportmarker, the third largest in Lithuania, offers connecting flights to Scandinavia and Germany. The airport is located between Palanga and ┼áventoji, and it handles more flights in the summer due to the resort nature of the municipality.

Places of interest

The pier in Palanga
In the summer, a multitude of tourists descend on Palanga, both for its beaches and to enjoy the maritime atmosphere. There is a carnival centered on Jonas Basanavi─Źius Street, which is a pedestrian only thoroughfare during the high season. There are dozens of restaurants, bars, rides, and other forms of entertainment. The aforementioned Amber Museum is open to the public, as are as the museum's extensive botanical gardens.

Also found in Palanga is one of the oldest operating pharmacies in Lithuania. It was established in the mid-19th century.

The city is also home to a regional radio station, FM Palanga.

References

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