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St. John's Hill
The defensive mound that reminds people of the times when Klaipėda (Memel) was a city-stronghold is now called St. John's Hill. It was formed in the last decades of the 17th century, when the city was surrounded by fortification, reminiscent of Dutch-style castle architecture.
Historical sources state that between 1627 and 1629, under the command of engineer C. Rose, the city's defences were being built in the style of Dutch fortification. Mounds and bastions of 3.5 metres in height were built, around which ditches, called fossé, were dug. Because of the size of the city's fortification, the entire structure was categorised as royal fortification. Works were concluded at around the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th century. Later, in the middle of the 18th century, the mounds were reconstructed.
The fortification system of Klaipėda city was rather complex. Since the city was fortified with bastions in the east and the south, while the north was guarded by the New Danė River, one could only enter through one of three gateways, named Tilto (Lith. bridge), Kūlių or Akmenų (Lith. thick sheaf of straw or stone respectively), and Malūnų (Lith. windmill). The latter two were constructed under a mound of ground.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the city underwent occupation by the Swedes and the Russians. The bastion fortifications also commemorate Aleksandr Suvorov, a renown Russian military leader, who was a commanding officer for seven years during the war, after Klaipėda was taken over.
In the second half of the 18th century, fortifications lost their significance, the gates were demolished with bricks and the mounds and ditches were levelled, so when the 20th century came along, only a few complex fortification system fragments remained.
The most significant view of the fortification can be seen in the historical plans of bastions that remain at the end of Turgaus st. – present day St. John's Hill – called Geldern and Purmark. Ditch water and the only remaining ravelin are the only elements that can be seen in front of them. From 1994 until 1997, the remains of these defensive fortifications were restored (V. Šliogeris was the author of the project).
It is believed that this place received its name from St. John's Evangelical-Lutheran Church that used to stand here (constructed in 1706), which was one of the most renown architectural marvels in Klaipėda, but, unfortunately, it was destroyed after the war.
St. John's Hill is the location of the festivities that take place on St. John's Day. It attracts not only the inhabitants of the city, but also a lot of guests. During the spring, the Užgavėnės (same day as Ash Wednesday) celebrations take place on this same hill. During the festivities, folk music is played, people dance Lithuanian folk dances, while during the summer, the Sea Festival takes over and it is the place of various events, concerts and discotheques.
Submitted: Klaipėdos apskrities viešoji I.Simonaitytės biblioteka | http://www.klavb.lt/lt/