You should not be surprised by anything when you arrive in Kaliningrad, or König , as local call it. Don’t be surprised that the city is surrounded by Europe on all sides. Don’t be surprised about architectural styles diversity, nor at the fact that locals still remember the German names of the streets and neighboring towns.
Kaliningrad’s main characteristic is its duality. On the one hand it is an ancient city is part of Russia, and on the other hand, geographically and historically Kaliningrad is a part of Europe. So when you will be strolling around the streets, you won’t be able to escape the feeling that you are on the frontier between two words – western and eastern. What is the result of this? You certainly have to see it with your own eyes!
Kaliningrad has a long and fascinating history which goes back as far as 13 century. It was founded in 1255 as Königsberg , when crusaders built a wooden fortress-castle on the Twangst Hill and named it King’s Hill (i.e. Konigsberg) in honor of the Czech king. Kaliningrad has witnessed important events throughout its history at various times castles; a university and a splendid library have been built here, as well as mighty fortifications and other defensive constructions. Konigsberg was one of the progressive European cities of its time. Unfortunately, much of its historical heritage has been lost, but traces of history survive all over the ancient city. The city was the capital of German East Prussia until the end of World War II. Transferred to the USSR in 1945, it was named Kaliningrad in 1946.
The best way to feel the atmosphere of Kaliningrad is simply to stroll around the centre planted with trees: nut trees, oaks, maples, beeches, chestnuts, limes… You will also come across exotic plants brought here many years ago from different countries. The red tiled roofs of the houses built in the traditional German style are visible among the foliage of the trees. The city is now being rebuilt to old patterns and the architecture of old Königsberg is being carefully restored: the city gates, numerous of castles and churches.
You should definitely visit the city’s best known architectural monument – the Cathedral, which construction began in 1333. It was built in the Baltic Gothic style and looks very austere and majestic. The great philosopher Immanuel Kant, Königsberg’s most famous resident, was buried in the Cathedral. If you take a walk along Litovsky Val, you will arrive to old Königsberg, and then you will come out at the King’s Gate. This ancient monument looks like a little castle with its turrets and red brick walls.
In search of treasure
Kaliningrad Region is the richest natural resource of the word-famous amber. The Amber Museum there is featuring unique items, stones of various shapes and sizes, and the famous Amber Room’s fragments. There is no way to resist buying a Russian souvenirs made of the sunny stone.
However you don’t have to buy the Russian amber. Any Kaliningrad’s visitor can try their luck at finding amber themselves. Go to Svetlogorsk or Zelenogorsk, Baltic Sea resort areas, and start searching. Walk along the sandy beach, at the edge of the Baltic Sea and, if you get lucky, you will see a shining piece of amber brought by the waves. However, if you don’t manage to find “gift of the sun”, the Baltic coast will bring you plenty other pleasures – its gentle northern sea, sandy beaches and very unique flora.
Visit also the Kurshkaya Split, you will have completely unforgettable memories. Breathe the fresh air impregnated with the aroma of pine trees; enjoy the gentle sound of surf and the wonderful views.
People of Kaliningrad love their city, this westernmost point of Russia. This wonderful place will leave a lot of great emotions, even if you spend only a short time in König.
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