Bastion complex (Jonas (John’s) Hill, Geldern Bastion)

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Turgaus str. 37, Klaipėda
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Jonas Hill is a place where many meetings of Klaipėda community take place, including events of Jūros šventė (Sea Festival). Here people celebrate Saint John’s Eve and Užgavėnės (the time before Lent). Music is an important part of these festivities. But did you know that the romantic name, that seems to derive from the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church that stood here (built in 1706 and destroyed after the Second World War), hides an extremely interesting story related to the defence of the city?

The origins of the city date back to 1252 when the Livonian Order built Memelburg Castle in the mouth of the Danė river from where the city grew. After the collapse of the state of the Teutonic Order, since 1525 Klaipėda belonged to the Duchy of Prussia, and, since 1701, to the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1627 and 1629 the city was surrounded by Dutch-style fortifications, constructed according to a design by the engineer Rene Carracioli de Niastre. Mounds of about 3.5 metres high and bastions were created, with water ditches surrounding them. In the middle of the 18th century, after the completion and reconstruction, the city was surrounded by bastion fortifications from the eastern and southern sides. From the north side it was protected by the New Danė river, therefore access to the city was possible only through gates named Tilto (Bridge), Kūlių (Akmenų) and Malūnų (Mills). This system protected Klaipėda through the occupations of the Swedish (1629-1635) and Russian (1757-1762) armies. These bastion fortifications are also familiar with the name of a famous Russian commander Aleksandras Suvorovas (Alexander Suvorov), who, after the Russian army occupied Klaipėda, served as commandant during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763).

In the second half of the 18th century, the city fortifications lost their significance and it was allowed to demolish the fortifications. The mounds were destroyed, the ditches were filled in with soil and the bricks from the gates were used for other construction projects.

At the picturesque Jonas Hill, located at end of the Turgaus Street, which begins at the Theatre Square, are the remaining restored fragments of the bastion defence system. The complex consists of three territories. The first is the Geldern, Purmark bastions, curtain wall (defensive wall connecting the adjacent bastions), ravelin (an artificial kite-shaped island with a wooden bridge) and a defensive moat. The second are the remnants of the Prussia bastion (today there’s a Spa complex built in 1896). The third are the remnants of the Malūnas (Mill) bastion (currently a school is on the site).

Bastion complex (Jonas (John’s) Hill, Geldern Bastion)

Turgaus str. 37, Klaipėda

Jonas Hill is a place where many meetings of Klaipėda community take place, including events of Jūros šventė (Sea Festival). Here people celebrate Saint John’s Eve and Užgavėnės (the time before Lent). Music is an important part of these festivities. But did you know that the romantic name, that seems to derive from the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church that stood here (built in 1706 and destroyed after the Second World War), hides an extremely interesting story related to the defence of the city?

The origins of the city date back to 1252 when the Livonian Order built Memelburg Castle in the mouth of the Danė river from where the city grew. After the collapse of the state of the Teutonic Order, since 1525 Klaipėda belonged to the Duchy of Prussia, and, since 1701, to the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1627 and 1629 the city was surrounded by Dutch-style fortifications, constructed according to a design by the engineer Rene Carracioli de Niastre. Mounds of about 3.5 metres high and bastions were created, with water ditches surrounding them. In the middle of the 18th century, after the completion and reconstruction, the city was surrounded by bastion fortifications from the eastern and southern sides. From the north side it was protected by the New Danė river, therefore access to the city was possible only through gates named Tilto (Bridge), Kūlių (Akmenų) and Malūnų (Mills). This system protected Klaipėda through the occupations of the Swedish (1629-1635) and Russian (1757-1762) armies. These bastion fortifications are also familiar with the name of a famous Russian commander Aleksandras Suvorovas (Alexander Suvorov), who, after the Russian army occupied Klaipėda, served as commandant during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763).

In the second half of the 18th century, the city fortifications lost their significance and it was allowed to demolish the fortifications. The mounds were destroyed, the ditches were filled in with soil and the bricks from the gates were used for other construction projects.

At the picturesque Jonas Hill, located at end of the Turgaus Street, which begins at the Theatre Square, are the remaining restored fragments of the bastion defence system. The complex consists of three territories. The first is the Geldern, Purmark bastions, curtain wall (defensive wall connecting the adjacent bastions), ravelin (an artificial kite-shaped island with a wooden bridge) and a defensive moat. The second are the remnants of the Prussia bastion (today there’s a Spa complex built in 1896). The third are the remnants of the Malūnas (Mill) bastion (currently a school is on the site).

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