Palanga is a resort town where the Sventoji and Graze rivers run into the Baltic Sea. The history of Palanga goes back a long time, as is evidenced by archaeological finds: not far from town Sventoji, archaeologists have come across a campground which suggested that the area was inhabited some 5000 years ago. In historical documents the name of Palanga was first mentioned in 1161 when the king of Denmark disembarked there with his army. In the 13th-15th centuries Palanga had to deal with the Order of the Crusaders in the south and the Knights of the Sword in the north. The enemies tried to unite, but the Lithuanian lowlanders were stubborn and didn’t give in. The enemies never reached their goal of seizing the Lithuanian seacoast from Klaipeda to Sventoji, and although Klaipeda stayed in the hands of German feudal lords according to the 1422 Treaty of Melne, Palanga and Sventoji remained until Lithuanian rule. The two towns gradually developed into significant trade harbours. British merchants settled in Sventoji in 1685. However this prosperity ended in 1701 when the Swedish Army ravaged Palanga, destroyed the Sventoji harbour and blocked up the wharves with rocks.
In 1842 Count Tiskevicius purchased Palanga. In order to revive the harbour Tiskevicius built a bridge to the sea to transport passengers and goods. However the harbour was soon buried with sand and since 1892 the bridge has been used purely for strolling.
Palanga only began to develop as a resort in the early 19th century. Then just as now the sun, the sea and the magnificent dunes attracted tourists.
The neo-gothic church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin Mary is an excellent example of old Palanga architecture. Also there are many vacation and resort buildings in Palanga, which were built in the post-war period.
Today Palanga is the most popular sea resort in Lithuania. The famous white sand, the beach that seems to stretch forever and pine groves attract thousands of both Lithuanians and foreigners. There are two must-sees in Palanga: Birute’s Hill – is a tall sand-dune which originally boasted a pagan temple to Thunder god Perkunas that was guarded by Vestal Virgins. Smitten by one of the guardians Grand Duke Vytautas kidnapped Birute and made her his wife. Now the hill is topped with a chapel and the statue of Birute rests at the foot of the hill. The second and most interested tourist site is the Amber Museum, which has tens of thousands of different amber pieces on display, including some bigger than you can imagine. These days, Palanga is also the place to go for active youngsters in search of bars and nightclubs, of which the town now has plenty.