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 Post subject: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 04 Jul 2012 10:58 
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Kaliningrad region

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Kaliningrad region is the smallest and most westerly part of Russia. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that it has no common border with Russia, instead being bordered by Poland and Lithuania. It is interesting for its history too, because originally this territory was inhabited by pagan Prussians. In the 13th century, they were actively — and against their will — converted and baptized by German crusaders, and at the same time colonized, the Germans having captured the outlet to the sea. It was the Germans who established knight’s castles here, for the protection of the occupied territories, some of which have survived. As a result, German culture was the most predominant influence. People settled around the castles and then the settlements grew. This is how Kaliningrad in particular appeared. Formerly known as Königsberg, it is the heart and soul of the region. The conquered territory, which became part of the crusaders’ state, never ceased to wage war under the Teutonic Order, which led to its decline.

This led to the formation of the secular state Prussia in the 16th century, becoming the first in the world to recognize Protestantism as the state religion. All these events influenced the culture, architecture and lifestyles of this country, which for a long time was solely Western European and had nothing to do with Russia. Historically typical for the area, it only became closer to Russia through war, first during the Seven Years’ War in the period 1758-62. East Prussia for a time became part of the Russian Empire, and then at the end of World War II as a result of the Potsdam Agreement the northern part of it was transferred to the Soviet Union’s possession. The Königsberg special military district was renamed the Kaliningrad region only in 1946. After the expulsion of the Germans, the region was colonized by arrivals from Russia.

The old German name of the city, Königsberg, literally means “royal mountain,” although there is a Prussian meaning, which is not far off the German, being the name of the castle, the royal residence, around which over time sprung up numerous settlements, united in 1724 into a city. By that time it already had a university, a printing press and the famous cathedral.

Despite its distance from Russia, Kaliningrad region remains a popular seaside resort, where despite border formalities many people have been travelling for years. The climate of the region is somewhere between maritime and continental temperate; winters are mild (-4 degrees C in January) and summer starts early (17 degrees C in July). Major resort towns include Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk and Yantarny. The picturesque surroundings absolutely lend themselves to fascinating walks. In the vicinity there are many attractions, including historic and cultural monuments. There are excellent opportunities for outdoor activities: hiking, biking and horseriding, surfing and kitesurfing, yachting and fishing.

Yet the main attraction remains, of course, the sea. Keep your eyes on the sand as you walk along the beach: You could stumble upon a piece of amber washed out of the surf.

This unique mineral was formed from the petrified resin of predominantly coniferous trees that grew on the Scandinavian Peninsula and adjacent Baltic Sea territories 45 million to 50 million years ago. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. More than 90 percent of the world’s reserves of amber are concentrated in the Kaliningrad region. Many gifts and items of jewelry are made from this warm yellow stone. Many individual private artists, artisan workshops and enterprises continue the traditional trade, which is why this region is often called the Amber (Yantarny) region.


The Moscow Times

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 Post subject: Re: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 04 Jul 2012 14:04 
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Königsberg now Kaliningrad part of Russia

The main attraction of the city is its cathedral. It is believed that the cathedral was conceived in its current version in 1333 and completed in 1380, although the tower was only attached 173 years later. Immanuel Kant, who lived and worked in Königsberg, is buried by the cathedral walls. The original interior of the cathedral was destroyed in World War II. Today it includes not only the magnificent building itself, but also two chapels, two museums and an organ hall. Right near the cathedral you can also see the Holy Cross Cathedral, Church of the Holy Family and the Friedland gates. Since from the beginning the town had a castle (now totally destroyed), there is also a chain of fortifications, comprising gates, towers and forts. It is interesting to combine a walk in the central city park with a visit to the zoo.

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View of old town (destroyed in WW II, only the cathedral was rebuilt)


Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg, city, western Russia, on the Pregolya River. The capital of Kaliningrad Oblast, it is a major industrial and commercial center, connected by channel with Baltiysk, an ice-free port on the Baltic Sea.

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Port

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Old German granary on the seaport


Among its principal manufactures are ships, machinery, chemicals, paper, and lumber. Historic landmarks in Kaliningrad include the Schloss, or Castle (1255), and a cathedral (14th century). The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, a native of the city, taught at its university (now Kaliningrad State University), which was established in 1544.

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Kant's Cathedral (restored, after being destroyed in WW II)

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New Communist Party Headquarters (unfinished since 1991)

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German military barracks

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Interior

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Sunday fishing in the harbour

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Soviet General who led Red Army in capture of Königsberg
(old German Fortress in background)

By agreement among the Allies at the Potsdam Conference (1945) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
annexed the city and surrounding territory. In 1946 the city's name was changed from Königsberg to Kaliningrad,
in honor of the Soviet leader M. I. Kalinin. Population (1990 estimate) 406,000.

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German fortress (now the Amber Museum)

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Trams and new cars from the West
imported into this special economic zone of Russia

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 Post subject: Re: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 04 Jul 2012 18:24 
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Zelenogradsk formerly this town was called Kranz

Formerly this town was called Kranz, and was well known as a spa resort.

It became popular as early as 1816, when there appeared the first male and female baths and mud baths. Compared to Svetlogorsk it is a pretty quiet place, where the measured German spirit is well preserved.

Among the architectural sights are the Church of St. Andrew, St. Andrew's Church in a former Catholic church and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in the former Lutheran Church of St. Adalbert.




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 Post subject: Re: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 04 Jul 2012 19:08 
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Svetlogorsk

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This city is more than 750 years old, and its whole history is bound up with seaside holidays: first for the Prussian nobility, when the city was named Rauschen, followed by the elite of Hitler's Reich, and, after 1945, the Soviet generals.

The city strangely escaped World War II intact. Now it is a fashionable holiday resort with a mass of hotels and resorts, an entertainment industry, a great promenade with a sundial and a mermaid statue, and seaside restaurants, whose visitors like to walk along the beach in search of amber. 90 percent of the world's supply of the golden stone is concentrated here. One of Svetlogorsk's distinguishing features is its two-tiered landscape: from the lower part you can get to the top by cable car or elevator. For the romantics there is a serpentine staircase with mosaic landings, cute little benches and flower beds. Yet the city's main attraction remains, of course, the sea.

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 Post subject: Re: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 04 Jul 2012 19:17 
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Curonian Spit

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From the outskirts of Zelenogradsk into the bay juts the sandy Curonian Spit, where once lived the ancient Curonian tribes. This unique location is protected by UNESCO: You have to pay an environmental fee to drive onto the spit. The spit coincides with the migration routes of many species of birds, and there is a special ornithological complex you can visit.

In the village Lesnoye at the narrowest point of the Curonian Spit (400 meters), you can rent bikes to ride through the Korolevsky and Tantsuyushchy woods and dunes, look at the old church in the village Rybachy and at a small lake. There are numerous camps and recreation centers on the spit where you can rent camping equipment, boats and water bikes, and even go scuba diving.

Neman

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The city, known as Ragnit previously and in German, is named after the river Neman. Like other large settlements, Neman grew up around a castle. In 1976 Soviet film-makers turned it into ruins for the sake of a film. Nearby there is Daubas, known as the “Lithuanian Switzerland.”

Sovetsk

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The town formerly known as Tilsit has throughout history been part of Poland, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, Prussia, the Russian and German empires, and later the Soviet Empire, which gave it its modern name. This explains the proximity of both Orthodox and Catholic churches and many historic buildings of various styles.

The city is famous for the Bridge of Queen Louise, which is depicted on Sovetsk’s crest. This is a relatively new structure compared to the local castles. It was opened in 1907, to join Russia with Lithuania. The city is famous for its theaters: Tilsit Theater has existed since 1893, and the Green Theater was built during the Third Reich.

It is one of the preserved so-called tingplats that were used for public meetings.

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 Post subject: Re: Kaliningrad region
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 05 Jul 2012 18:10 
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I've been to Kaliningrad many times (always on my way to Poland), and I find the city very depressing. What might be interesting to the readers of this forum - those in search of an FSU spouse - is that it's very easy for a woman from this region to get a Polish multi-entry tourist visa.

By the way, same applies to women from St. Petersbourg and all the whole area west of it towards Finland. It's not a problem to get a Finnish tourist visa. When I say easy, I mean no invitation, tickets & hotel reservations, etc is needed.


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