A few weeks ago Solveiga and I received an email from one of our listeners telling us about his recent trip to Lithuania and his time in Klaipeda. He obviously had an amazing time visiting Lithuania who doesn’t right? But he also went on to mention one of Lithuania’s most celebrated statues, “Juodasis Vaiduoklis” or the “The Black Ghost”. I remember Solveiga had taken me to visit Klaipeda and this statue the Black Ghost of Klaipeda on my very first trip to Lithuania way back in 2011, however I had totally forgotten about it all I remembered was that it reminded me of a Dementor from the Harry Potter series.
For those who follow the podcast you will know we were in Klaipeda recently and although the day was cold, misty and snowy we decided to pay a visit to this statue. The weather was actually a fitting back drop to this spooky character.
The statue in itself is an amazing work of art, bold and dramatic. Sculpted by Svajunas Jurkus and Sergejus Plotnikovas, the sculpture stands an impressive 2.4 meters and is made from bronze, it depicts a hooded and robed ghostly figure climbing out of the murky water, pulling itself onto the dock, it’s long fingered hands protruding from its cloak gripping a lantern in one hand and the other resting as the creature pulls itself ashore.
Located near the Memel castle remains, close to the old port hotel, just past the swing bridge on the left the black ghost is a reminder of not only Lithuanian legend but of Klaipeda’s own folklore and history. The story goes that one evening in 1595 one of the Memel Castle guards, Hans von Heidi, while walking around the docks, saw a hooded ghostly figure. This “black ghost” asked him about the city’s supply of grain and timber and if the amount was sufficient? The guard replied that supplies were indeed enough, but the hooded ghost warned the guard that the stocks would soon be insufficient, and with that as quickly as he appeared, it vanished.
This story or a variation of is actually mentioned in old manuscripts that document this encounter, the sculptor’s have managed to bring this legend to life as well as give us a reminder of just how long and interesting Klaipeda’s history is.
Speaking to a few passers’ by about what they thought of the Black Ghost of Klaipeda we had a mix of emotions a young couple on holiday in Lithuania told us that they had never seen anything like it and it was one of the best statues they had come across although at night it was quite scary, A fisherman fishing nearby said it looked to him like death had been caught sneaking out of the water and that’s why he hadn’t caught anything here all day but the most interesting response we had was from an old lady who told us we should stay away from it as it was evil and more than likely cursed…
There is no doubt about it, the black ghost has a fascinating place in Klaipeda folklore and it really is a great addition to this old part of Klaipeda. Solveiga and I highly recommend that you go pay a visit, and if you do, let us know what you thought of it.
Have you ever been to visit the black ghost of Klaipeda? Have any pictures? What is your favourite Statue in Lithuania? Leave a comment below.
Here are a few fun facts about the Black Ghost of Klaipeda.
- People often put coins in the lantern of the black ghost to tip the dock workers. The bridge is operated by manual gears and needs to open to get boats in and out of the guest harbour all this it’s done by manual labour.
- Legend says if you befriend the black ghost of Klaipeda, many riches and good fortune await you.
Thanks for reading,