"Kaliningrad - Königsberg" Top 5 Page for this destination Kaliningrad by OlafS
Kaliningrad Travel Guide: 90 reviews and 206 photos
This city intrigues me, as does the piece of land it lies in, having been a mystery ever since World War Two when the Soviets took it, drove out almost all surviving members of the original German population and gave it the current ridiculous name in honour of some criminal gangleader who had never been there but just happened to die that year. The Soviets turned the area in what must have been the largest military base in history, neglecting all other aspects of life. Thanks to communism, many historical buildings were needlessly destroyed, others fell into decay, while pollution and indifference took their toll as well.
When I visited it, Kaliningrad had only been opened for tourists for about a year. At first sight it's an ugly city, with an almost completely empty centre, surrounded by ugly high rise buildings. But between the unimaginative Soviet-era concrete buildings there are many surviving ones from the German period, although often in a bad state. Especially outside the centre a lot has been preserved, with entire neighbourhoods surviving without much more than a scratch. Several churches, fortresses, city-gates , railway stations and many Jugendstil houses etc. etc. remain as witnesses of the past. With a bit of effort in the centre (OK, a LOT of effort) this could become a very attractive city. Unfortunately I was here too short to see all that I wanted, but I'm sure I'll go back one day. Surely a lot will have changed for the better then. There has been talk of renaming the city back to its original name, but the central government wouldn't have anything of it. Unlike much of the population though, who already refer to their city as Kenigsberg or just Kenig (there's no ? in the Cyrillic alphabet) so perhaps it may come true after all, one day. In 2005, if the still essentially communist Russian government allows it, the city will celebrate its 750th birthday and the Prussian/German history will play a major role. How could it not? For the people of Kenig Germany is no longer the enemy. A few years ago a new coat of arms was adopted, which was clearly based on the old German one. The local car factory produces BMW's. Foreign investments and a spirit among the locals to make something of this place have already resulted in great things. For a start, this picture from 1992 still shows the cathedral as a ruin. Today the exterior is completely restored, with a spire and a roof and all, while the interior houses a few museums.
The Königstor ("Kings Gate") is one of several surviving German city gates. There used to be small turrets on every... more travel advice
Philosopher Immanuel Kant lived all his life in Königsberg. The city's most famous son was buried just outside the... more travel advice
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