Curonian Spit National Park is in [western] Lithuania.
The Curionian Spit is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Scientists say that the waves of the Baltic Sea formed the Curonian Spit more than 5000 years ago. The origins of the Nerija (Spit) name relate to Kuršiai—a western Baltic tribe who lived on the current Latvian and northern Lithuanian seacoast, and in the south stretched to the areas of Klaipėda. Urbanisation of the Curonian Spit began in the 13th century, when the crusaders or Teutonic Order occupied this territory and built several castles of the Order. The most important of them was Rasytė (Rossitten, currently Ribachiy). At the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, Kuršininkai settled the Curonian Spit. The Kuršininkai were fishermen who used boats of a special structure, named kurėnai. Affected by the specific nature of the Curonian Spit and nearly separated from the continent, local residents were constructing original buildings covered with reed. Only in the settlements of the Curonian Spit can you see the specific carved decorations and weathercocks on the buildings. These weathercocks are evidence of the main activity of the old residents of Neringa—fishing. In the 15th century the entire Curonian Spit was covered by dense forest. The old residents considered trees to be sacred, and did not touch them. Later people began to cut trees with no pity. When the forests were destroyed, nothing prevented the sand from moving in the wind, so it slid along the peninsula towards the Curonian Lagoon. Huge dunes have buried many fishermen villages in their way. Scientists consider that there are as many as fourteen villages buried under the sand in the Curonian Spit. Later, it became clear that the pine roots are the best way to prevent the moving sand. Two centuries ago, they started planting the Curonian Spit dunes again and this process still continues. The seacoast dunes fortification and planting work in the Curonian Spit is the biggest project of its kind in the world. Even though the majority of ancient residents were involved in fishing, from the beginning of the 19 century they began breeding animals as well. Juodkrantė was the first settlement among the current Neringa settlements to offer the tourist services, and from the middle of the 19th century also engaged in amber excavation and processing. Rapid growth of Juodkrantė began. In 1881, the Juodkrantė resort committee was established, which was rearranged into the Resort Society in the beginning of the 20th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, new types of buildings, summerhouses and hotels, appeared in Juodkrantė. Fishermen homestead buildings were rearranged and reequipped by adapting them for visitors. In 1904, a large recreation complex was built in the resort with healing water and mud procedures. During the years of independent Lithuania (1923-1939), the resort was famous for various healing and mineral waters, attractions of resort infrastructure, and tranquillity of the dune forest. Meanwhile, Nida was famous as a Mecca of artists. In 1900, the headquarters of the German artist colony was established in the hotel of H. Blodė. This society existed until 1945. The hotel of H. Blodė was one of the most famous German hotels. In 1930, a famous German writer, laureate of Nobel Prize T. Mann built his house in Nida. Even though the Soviet period affected the urban face of Nerija, today this is the only place in Lithuania with the preserved, nearly untouched, ancient settlements of the former fishermen villages. They are like live museums of Kuršiai with an ethnical architectural heritage and old resort traditions.
Flora and fauna
Curonian Spit is attributed to the coastal climate zone highly affected by the Baltic Sea. It boasts the highest number of sunny days in Lithuania. Prevailing winds are west and southwest winds. Due to the proximity to the sea, autumns and winters here are milder than in the eastern areas of Lithuania. Air in winter is very humid, and in spring the humidity decreases. The warmest month of the year is August.
Neringa’s geographic position is unique. It is the most western part of Lithuania, bordered by the Baltic Sea from the west, and by the Curonian Lagoon from the east. In the southern part of Neringa there is a state border with Russian Federation, Kaliningrad area, and therefore this peninsula can be easy accessed from the northern part of Neringa by ferry (Smiltynė-Klaipėda). If you don’t have a vehicle, Neringa can be conveniently accessed in several ways: By bus: buses leave from Vilnius and Kaunas every day; buses leave from Klaipėda’s Smiltynė ferry according to the schedule (the old ferry (1st), Žvejų g. 8, Klaipėda). By car: Kaunas – Nida 263 km, Vilnius – Nida 361. The Lagoon is crossed in the new (2nd) ferry (Nemuno is g. 8, Klaipėda). A local fee is charged for entrance permission by vehicle to the state-protected territories of the Curonian Spit National Park. This fee is administrated by the Neringa municipality.
The Dead Dunes and the Hill of Witches.