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Klaipėda University building complex – former barracks of soldiers
Klaipėda University building complex is also known as the barracks of Klaipėda. It is a neo-Gothic style building complex built in Klaipėda, which was converted to the youngest university in Lithuania – Klaipėda University in 1993. The ensemble consisted of eight red brick buildings, of which six remain to this day.
Until the end of the 19th century, the Prussian army garrison was accommodated in Klaipėda in the apartments of the city’s residents. The first barracks were built in 1876–1880 to accommodate the German army garrison dislocated in Klaipėda, however at the beginning of the 20th century, Klaipėda city proposed the management of the German army to build a new barracks complex. In 1907, the garrison of Klaipėda was transferred to the newly built barracks. The barracks complex included six different buildings for soldiers and commanders, as well as a small chapel, dining areas and weapon storage facilities.
All structures within the complex were used for army purposes for almost half a century.
On 30 August 1993, Russian army officers dislocated in Klaipėda signed an act transferring the military town with its six neo-Gothic buildings, many low-value structures and an area of 25.6 ha to Klaipėda University. In the same year, celebrations of the start of the new academic year were held at the parade and march training grounds of the barracks which opened their control posts. These celebrations were observed by Russian soldiers who have not yet left the grounds.
The restoration works of the six main buildings were carried out within a period of 15 years. The University Rectorate moved into the restored premises in October of 1997. On 14 February 2000, the restored building of the Centre of Evangelical Theology was opened; on 5 February 2002 – restoration works of the Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Health Sciences building were completed; on 1 September 2003 – the university library was the fifth restored building; at the beginning of 2009 – the University Aula and the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology was the sixth restored building of the ensemble.
The foundation of the neo-Gothic ensemble was comprised of three symmetrically located structures: two main ones were intended for the soldiers and the lower one was intended for military purposes and also housed a canteen. The four-storey living quarters were distinguished by their size. Other buildings were intended for the headquarters, guard post, living quarters of soldiers and warehouses.
All six buildings of the barracks ensemble are connected together by the neo-Gothic architecture, by the red colour of bricks, uniform segmental window openings, and by the green majolica details decorating the pedestals and windowsills. The architecture of these buildings also has a few other elements taken from the Middle Ages. For example: the ammunition block wall is decorated by two shield shaped niches (such shields are found at the gates of old German cities). The walls of some blocks coordinate its red brick colour with strips of light plaster resembling fachwerk frames typical to the architecture of Germany and Klaipėda region. To make the ensemble look more strict and monumental, a metal fence was used whose openwork sections are held by tall masonry pillars with concrete “caps”.
- The barracks that became Klaipėda University: the study is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Baltic Sea Region History and Archaeology, Klaipėda University, the 20th anniversary of Klaipėda University, and the 760th anniversary of the City of Klaipėda. Author Vasilijus Safronovas. Klaipėda: Klaipėda University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-9955-18-646-5