Neringa Fort, also known as Kopgalis

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Smiltynės str. 3, Klaipėda
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Neringa Fort, also known as the Fortress of Kopgalis, is the only remaining Prussian military heritage site in Lithuania dating from the second half of the 19th century. Currently, the Lithuanian Sea Museum is located at the site in the small settlement of Smiltynė. During the 1970s the decision to set up a museum led to a thorough examination of this unique area that had never been implemented before.

The history of the fort began in the 18th century when the draft of a blockhouse (a defence building adapted for shooting machine guns and artillery guns in all directions) was created. Construction began in 1865 and was a fully functioning military object until 1897. Subsequently, the fortress became unnecessary because of the development of military equipment, in particular the artillery of naval ships. Thus, a school was established at Kopgalis Fort for several years, and a teacher, who was also the commandant of the fort, lived there. During the First World War the fort was also used for civilian purposes. When Russian troops occupied Klaipėda, the local townspeople hid from the enemy for several days in the fort.

After Klaipėda region was reincorporated into Lithuania in 1923, a period marking the rebirth of the port city began. Part of the Neringa Fort was connected to the Curonian Lagoon, so the port could accommodate all the fishermen’s ships, but it was decided to establish a border naval base there. There is, however, no evidence that this was actually carried out, only evidence that the fort was used for recreational purposes.

After Germany annexed Klaipėda region in 1939, soldiers once again settled in the fort, and as they were withdrawing in 1945 they blew up its inner buildings (the perimeter equipment and structures were not damaged). In the same year, the order of the People’s Commissar of the Soviet Navy defined the territory of Klaipėda Commercial Harbour, that was strictly protected by border guards and that also included Kopgalis Fortress with a channel. Later, behind the fort, the Research Laboratory for Electric Fishing Methods was set up behind the border guards, and the posterns of the laboratory were used as its warehouses.

In 1972, the recording and research works of the existing Kopgalis structures, namely the entrance tambour with a guardhouse, posterns, warehouses for gunpowder and ammunition and a platform, were started. Between 1975 and 1979 restoration work took place. During that time, the redoubt (central building) was restored, and the fort was adapted for the needs of the museum. Today, whilst visiting the Lithuanian Sea Museum, you can see former ammunition warehouses, facilities for storing gunpowder, posterns and caponiers. The cannons have been replaced with anchors.

Neringa Fort, also known as Kopgalis

Smiltynės str. 3, Klaipėda

Neringa Fort, also known as the Fortress of Kopgalis, is the only remaining Prussian military heritage site in Lithuania dating from the second half of the 19th century. Currently, the Lithuanian Sea Museum is located at the site in the small settlement of Smiltynė. During the 1970s the decision to set up a museum led to a thorough examination of this unique area that had never been implemented before.

The history of the fort began in the 18th century when the draft of a blockhouse (a defence building adapted for shooting machine guns and artillery guns in all directions) was created. Construction began in 1865 and was a fully functioning military object until 1897. Subsequently, the fortress became unnecessary because of the development of military equipment, in particular the artillery of naval ships. Thus, a school was established at Kopgalis Fort for several years, and a teacher, who was also the commandant of the fort, lived there. During the First World War the fort was also used for civilian purposes. When Russian troops occupied Klaipėda, the local townspeople hid from the enemy for several days in the fort.

After Klaipėda region was reincorporated into Lithuania in 1923, a period marking the rebirth of the port city began. Part of the Neringa Fort was connected to the Curonian Lagoon, so the port could accommodate all the fishermen’s ships, but it was decided to establish a border naval base there. There is, however, no evidence that this was actually carried out, only evidence that the fort was used for recreational purposes.

After Germany annexed Klaipėda region in 1939, soldiers once again settled in the fort, and as they were withdrawing in 1945 they blew up its inner buildings (the perimeter equipment and structures were not damaged). In the same year, the order of the People’s Commissar of the Soviet Navy defined the territory of Klaipėda Commercial Harbour, that was strictly protected by border guards and that also included Kopgalis Fortress with a channel. Later, behind the fort, the Research Laboratory for Electric Fishing Methods was set up behind the border guards, and the posterns of the laboratory were used as its warehouses.

In 1972, the recording and research works of the existing Kopgalis structures, namely the entrance tambour with a guardhouse, posterns, warehouses for gunpowder and ammunition and a platform, were started. Between 1975 and 1979 restoration work took place. During that time, the redoubt (central building) was restored, and the fort was adapted for the needs of the museum. Today, whilst visiting the Lithuanian Sea Museum, you can see former ammunition warehouses, facilities for storing gunpowder, posterns and caponiers. The cannons have been replaced with anchors.

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