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Have you ever heard about this city and its suburbs - Svetlogorsk, Baltijsk? Do you know anything about it?
I will not wonder, if you say ‘No, I have no idea where it is’. Well, just a few people know about it. To the rest Kaliningrad region is unknown.
It was practically closed to tourists until 1991, so visiting it feels like discovering the historical places and mysteries of the land! It’s a real adventure for visitors!
Some of the unique features of Kaliningrad
Location Kaliningrad (former Koenigsberg - ‘The Royal Mountain’) is the westernmost point of Russia, separated from the main part of the country by Lithuania and Belorussia. We have no border with Russia but nevertheless we belong to it. Kaliningrad region borders on Lithuania in the east and Poland in the west. It’s in Europe and lies on the Baltic Sea. It is called Exclave, exclave of big Russia since the Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belorussia gained independence in 1991.
History Kaliningrad region is the youngest entity of the Russian Federation. It was founded on the territory of the former Eastern Prussia, after the II World War. By the terms of the Potsdam agreement, a part of German province (Koenigsberg) was handed over to the Soviet Union annexed to the RSFSR. The city of Koenigsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946 and the new history for the old city began. This is the only one Russian city that has four histories: almost fully-demolished Eastern-Prussian History, German History, Soviet History and post-soviet, modern History. It can truly be proud of its colorful and unique past as this territory had always found itself on the crossroads of European History (among numerous important events that took place in the life of the region are Teutonic Order and foundation of Koenigsberg, Seven-year war (1756-1763), Napoleonic invasion (1805-1807 and 1812-1814), World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), the acquisition of the region by USSR. The city was doomed to become the center of different historical and cultural traditions, a shelter for people of different nationalities.
Culture Koenigsberg is known all over the world for its University named Albertina after its founder Duke Albrecht (it was in 1544). It became the center of attraction for men of science and culture from Germany, Poland and Lithuania. Outstanding citizens of Koenigsberg contributed greatly to history of science and culture. The greatest philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1805) lived all his life in Koenigsberg, and the prominent German writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776-1822) was born and worked here. By the 3rd millennium Kaliningrad region has become a unique Russian area where many cultures of East, Central and West Europe co-exist.
Curonian Spit It is a unique natural formation that has no any analogues in the world! It’s a beautiful sand peninsula extending nearly 100 km (63 miles) along the coast - a rich habitat for plants and animals that appeared about 5000 years ago. On the Curonian Spit the protected area of the Curonian Spit National Park can be visited! Enjoy it while it lasts!
Myths surrounding the city
Cities love myths and they create myths. At least two myths surround the city of Kaliningrad - old Koenigsberg: Amber Room (the traces of this great cultural masterpiece were lost during world war two on this territory); the existance of underground Koenigsberg with its tunnels, secret path sand forts. It’s believed that even the sewer hatches (from the German times) are not just for a sewer system and for access to communications, they are portals, entries, passages, links and junctions that together form a single co-existance, co-involvement; geometric symbols and figures provide an idea about the possibilities of a code.
‘Koenig’ - so call inhabitants their city, means ‘king’ in the primordial language of this land. This is a city of many cultures, city of amber, garden city. Impression of Nikolay Karamzin, 1789: ‘Koenigsberg, the capital of Prussia, is one of the big cities in Europe with circuit of approximately 15 versts. … I saw a lot enough of good houses… generally Koenigsberg is built nearly better than Moscow…‘ Confirmation of these words can be seen also today. Napoleon about Koenigsberg: «If I could I would carry away all this miracle in my hands to Paris».
More from the history of Koenigsberg and Kaliningrad you can learn when you come here! But bear in mind that Kaliningrad, just to be seen, requires much time and the skill of gazing thoroughly, a micro-vision, an interest in details. Without that micro-vision, without a sense of the whole which follows from a consideration of the main theme or question of one’s visit, without the larger context of history and present times, nothing will be clear or interesting in Kaliningrad. This requires vast and various knowledge, imagination, a capacity of feeling the presence of the absent and love or desire for thinking. For those who possess all this, Kaliningrad is a very interesting town that launches one’s memory and intuition towards both the future and the past.
More than 500 thousand people out of millionth population of the region live in Kaliningrad. In 2005 there was a big celebration here. The city celebrated its 750th anniversary! This celebration definitely became a prominent national and international event, which had not only historical and cultural significance, but political as well.
The history of the city, its economic and cultural potential, the unique architectural style determine its European significance. The very unique geopolitical position, which specifies Kaliningrad, is one of the essential factors which establish the interrelationships between Russia and Europe.
The Kaliningrad region is a pleasant place to visit, providing a rest from the seaside far from the tumult of big cities. Conveniently situated, the region provides an opportunity to stay for at low cost and to associate with Russian culture and customs.
What fascinates tourists most about the Kaliningrad region is the exoticism of the country.
Visiting the Kaliningrad region with its extremely interesting history can be a challenge to holiday-makers!
Kaliningraders say about themselves: “We are Russians because we speak Russian and our culture is Russian, but in view of our ties to Europe, we kind of feel European”.
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