Kaliningrad Region Destinations
The Kaliningrad area attracts with a multitude of interesting travel destinations – both interesting cities and towns such as Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg), Tilsit (Sovetsk) or Chernyachovsk (Insterburg) as well as unique natural landscapes such as the Rominter Heide, the Curonian Spit or the Samland coast are waiting for you Discovery. The former East Prussia not only offers a whole range of sights for those interested in history and culture, nature lovers will also be delighted by the largely untouched nature.
Kaliningrad, the old Koenigsberg and the capital of today’s Kaliningrad Oblast, has about 430,000 inhabitants and was founded in 1255 under the name Koenigsberg. A few years later, Königsberg received city rights.
In the course of history it played a central role in several respects: as the seat of the Teutonic Order, as a trading city and as the capital of the German province of East Prussia and the current administrative district of Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad doesn’t exactly enchant with artistic architecture and a beautiful cityscape, but it has a lot to offer in terms of history. The old Königsberg can only be guessed at. The Königsberg Cathedral and individual city gates still bear witness to East Prussian history and here and there loosen up the monotonous, Soviet prefabricated building architecture.
The Second World War meant the end for Königsberg – in every respect. Area bombing destroyed almost the entire cityscape, the population died under the effects of the war or fled, Koenigsberg fell to the USSR and was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. A targeted settlement of the Russian population and the deportation or expulsion of the original population should promote the Russification of the area.
The history of Königsberg was also to be erased architecturally. Buildings were left to their fate of decay or even deliberately destroyed. One of the most famous examples is the Königsberg Castle, the remains of which were blown up in the late 1960s under Leonid Brezhnev. The council house was later built on the site of the moat – a gray colossus that was never used due to static problems. Even today it is crooked on the central square – you can see it as a memorial. Even people without an East Prussian family history are saddened by the story and the dreary sight.
But now to the more pleasant details: The old Königsberg Cathedral from the 14th century has been restored in the meantime. The sacred building on Kneiphof Island, wedged between the two arms of Pregel, suffered from the bombing of the Second World War and years of neglect, was only preserved as a ruin. Today it has a central position again, houses the city museum, the cathedral museum and a library. The new organ can also be heard at classical concerts that visitors can attend. The philosopher Immanuel Kant is buried on the north wall of the cathedral. His tomb is traditionally popular with wedding couples. According to legend, it is thanks to the grave that the Soviets did not demolish the cathedral, but tolerated the building.
Despite all the destruction, neglect and deliberately induced decay, there is also a lot of “old” things to see in today’s Kaliningrad. In addition to the cathedral, which has now been restored, the old city gates from the 19th century are well worth a visit. The Königstor, the Rossgärter Tor, the Friedrichsburger Tor and the Friedländer Tor are four of them, each of which has a different appearance. The Brandenburg Gate still serves as such today, cars and trams drive through it.
The old Königsberg was divided into three cities: Altstadt, Kneiphof and Löbenicht. While the Kneiphof island next to the cathedral, surrounded by the Pregel, used to be densely built, today it appears spacious and the cathedral towers over everything. The dense development was destroyed in the bombardment of 1944, the cathedral survived this badly damaged. A model of the original Kneiphof development can be seen in the Kaliningrad Art and History Museum. The densely built-up town of Löbenicht, which was mainly characterized by handicrafts and breweries, was largely destroyed by the area bombardment.
Today’s Immanuel Kant University emerged from the Albertina (or Albertus University), where the German philosopher Kant taught for many years. The university building was originally located on the Kneiphof, but was relocated from there due to lack of space. Today’s university building was built on the site of the Albertina, which was destroyed in the war.
The Lasch bunker conveys history from the last days of Königsberg. The bunker was reopened in May 2013 after extensive renovation and can now be viewed again by visitors. Otto Lasch was the last commandant of the city. In April 1945, after the three-day battle for Königsberg, he surrendered to the Soviets.
The range of museums in Kaliningrad is equally appealing: in addition to the Immanuel Kant Museum, the Cathedral Museum and the Museum of Art and History, the Amber Museum is also attractive. With a multitude of exhibits, it takes you into the shimmering world of fossil resin.