Kaliningrad and Koenigsberg

Periods of the city’s development are divided by World War 2.

In the 13th century Teutonic knights built in these places a majestic castle, named Koenigsberg.

For centuries the fortification structures have been expanded and strengthened. Koenigsberg was the center of East Prussia.

The city had the first airfield in Germany, which after three years welcomed the first flight from Moscow.

During World War 2 the city was within range of allied aircraft (US and UK). Despite the fact that it became impossible to create a “firestorm”, the historic center of the city was almost completely destroyed by bombing.

the center of the city was almost completely destroyed by bombing

by Cheryl Hammond (CC, flickr)

The remains of the city and its basements were converted by the Nazis into a multi-level line of defense. During the attack on the city by the Soviet army, the battles were particularly fierce.

Russian German city

After the war, the remains of the city were ceded to the Soviet Union. Koenigsberg was renamed into Kaliningrad and became an enclave of the Soviet Union in Europe.

Soviet Union conducted a consistent policy to expel Germans from the city (at the end of World War 2 there were still about 20 thousand inhabitants in the city).

A small area of the enclave predetermined a military character of the city.

Post-war reconstruction of the city was rather peculiar: the ruins of historic buildings were often simply demolished.

There are not that many historical landmarks left. Among them there is the Brandenburg Gate in the direction of the castle of Brandenburg, the first wooden version of which appeared in the mid-17th century.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate (2003). Sludge G (CC, flickr)

It became possible to restore the Cathedral of the 14th century in the gothic style, which was very harmed by bombings.

the Koenigsberg Cathedral

 The Koenigsberg Cathedral. Cheryl Hammond (CC, flickr)

From the bastion elements of the Koenigsberg ring, the towers “Der Don” and “Wrangel” were preserved, surrounded by water, and the Friedland gates.

Fishing village

Fishing village

by Cheryl Hammond (CC, flickr)

Ethnographic center “Fishing village” was conceived as the main tourist attraction of Kaliningrad. It has buildings, stylized as medieval buildings of German Koenigsberg, souvenir shops, restaurants and entertainment centers. The Fishing village even has its own river station and a lookout tower “Lighthouse” with an art gallery. Many years ago, this place was really inhabited by fishermen, and the place still has the spirit of those times.

The island of Kant

Another name for the island of Kant is Kneiphof. This used to be a separate town with its own coat of arms, regulations and fisheries. After World War 2, the island of Kant was almost completely destroyed. The mausoleum of the famous philosopher who lived in Koenigsberg almost his entire lifeBarely survived. Here Kant created his work “The Critique of Pure Reason” and hypothesized the origin of the solar system.

Amber museum

Extraction of amber in the Kaliningrad region was begun more than a thousand years ago. This is just one of the facts you will learn in the only museum in Russia of this beautiful mineral. The most popular exhibit at the museum – samples of amber with inclusions of ancient insects and plants. According to a legend, Kaliningrad was the last place where the famous Amber Room was seen, which was the main decoration of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. The Amber Room of the Russian tsars was stolen by the Nazis during World War 2.

Kaliningrad today is a very interesting and unique Russian city with a difficult history.

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