Nida (former German name: Nidden) is a resort town in Lithuania, located on the Curonian Spit. It has 1,650 residents and is the administrative center of the Neringa municipality. Nida Airport is located in the town. Nida is the westernmost point of Lithuania and the Baltic States.
First mentioned by Teutonic Order in macher colony documents in 1429 and 1497, the settlement was originally 5 km south of today's position near the Hohe Düne (high dune) at Grabscher Haken (Old Prussian grabis = hill). The fishing village became part of the Duchy of Prussia in 1525 and the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701.
Continuously threatened by sand drifts, the village was moved away from the dune to today's position in the 1730s. In 1874 a lighthouse on Urbas hill was built, later destroyed in the war and rebuilt in 1945 and 1953.
In the beginning of 20th century, Nidden became famous as a colony of German expressionists (Künstlerkolonie Nidden). Artists such as Max Pechstein, Alfred Lichtwark, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Alfred Partikel visited Nidden. Painters from Königsberg such as Julius Freymuth and Eduard Bischoff stayed in the area, as did poets like Ernst Wiechert and Carl Zuckmayer. Other guests included Ernst Kirchner, Ernst Mollenhauer, Franz Domscheit, and Herrmann Wirth. The painters usually took accommodations at the Herman Blode hotel, and left some of their works with him.
Nidden became part of Lithuania together with the northern half of the Curonian Spit in 1919 after World War I and was officially renamed Nida. Nevertheless the village remained a German-majority settlement — the border with East Prussia's half of the Spit lay only a few kilometres to the south. Nobel Prize-winning writer Thomas Mann lived in Nida during the summers of 1930–32. Part of Joseph and His Brothers (Joseph und seine Brüder) was written here. Mann's summer cottage survived and in the Soviet era hosted a library open in summer only, with residential quarters of the visiting librarian posted from Klaipėda upstairs and public areas downstairs. It is presently a culture center dedicated to the writer, with a memorial exhibition.
The town is known for Nidden Kurenwimpel — German for "Curonian pennants" — ornate carved flags peculiar to local families resident on the Curonian Spit. The flags, replicas of which can be seen around Nida, feature animal and human figures as pictograms reminiscent of a pagan writing tradition. At the local cemetery, examples of krikštas (pl. krikštai), pagan burial markers in place of tombstones, can still be seen.
In 1939 the town had 736 inhabitants. Nida became nearly uninhabited, like all of the Curonian Spit, as a result of the Soviet conquest of East Prussia at the end of World War II and the eventual expulsion of surviving German inhabitants. The town was reassigned to Lithuania under border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference, and became part of the Lithuanian SFSR within the Soviet Union; since 1990 it has been part of independent Lithuania.
In the early postwar period, Nida was a little-visited fishing village. Later in Soviet times Nida, together with three other villages of the Neringa Municipality (Juodkrantė, Preila and Pervalka), was a controlled-entry holiday region reserved for the Communist party officialdom (nomenklatura) and senior industry elite. Strict planning regulations, a ban on industrial development and generous municipal subsidies kept it unspoiled. Since independence, the area has been open to all, but the number of visitors is kept relatively low by the small number of hotel rooms (new developments usually are permitted only on old buildings' foundations) and comparatively high rents.
The town is an upmarket holiday resort, hosting about 200,000 to 300,000 tourists each summer, mostly Lithuanians, Germans, Latvians, and Russians. It is characterized by low-key entertainment and a distinct family focus. However during recent years it become a decent point of interest for fine electronica music and modern art shows at an eclectic forest retreat.
Since 2000, a jazz festival has been held every year. A local radio station Neringa FM streams live beats over FM and online. There are also interesting places to see nearby, including some of the highest sand dunes in Europe, a large sundial (which has now been restored after being damaged by a Baltic gale), fisherman's ethnographic museum, gallery-museum of amber, neo-Gothic church (built in 1888). There is also a campsite.
Nida's beach participates in the Blue Flag Programme.
Nida has a port which is used for ferries and fishing boats.
- Weise, p. 159
- Weise, Erich (1981) . Handbuch der historischen Stätten Deutschlands, Ost- und Westpreussen [Handbook of places in Germany, East and West Prussia]. Kröners Taschenausgabe, Band 317 [Kröners pocket book edition, volume 317] (in German) (Reprint of the 1966 ed.). Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner Verlag. ISBN 978-3-520-31701-8. OCLC 36315021.
- Media related to Nida at Wikimedia Commons