Kaliningrad is the capital of Kaliningrad oblast, Russia. It is the most western regional center of the country. Before 1255, it was known as Tuvangaste, from 1255 till 1946, the name of the town was Kenigsberg (Konigsberg).
The city is a major transport hub: railways and highways; sea and river ports; Khrabrovo International Airport. Kaliningrad is the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy.
Several matches of FIFA World Cup 2018 will be held in Kaliningrad.
Kaliningrad population is about 453,000 (2015), the land area - 225 sq. km.
The phone code is +7 4012, the postal codes - 236000-236040.
In 1255, Teutonic Knights built Konigsberg castle. In 1457, Konigsberg castle became the headquarters of the Teutonic Order. In the period from 1773 to 1945, the town of Konigsberg was the center of East Prussia. In 1919, Devau airport was opened in Konigsberg. It was the first airport in Germany and one of the first airports in Europe and the world.
During the World War II, in 1944, the town suffered heavy damage from Allies air attacks. The historic center of Konigsberg was completely destroyed including the castle, cathedral, churches, and universities.
Konigsberg became the part of the Soviet Union in 1945 (as part of the Russian SFSR). The city was renamed Kaliningrad. It happened after Mikhail Kalinin (the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR) died in 1946. The remaining German residents were expelled from the city and it was repopulated with Russians.
More Historical Facts…
The authorities didn’t pay any attention to the legacy of German culture. The old town was not restored and the castle ruins were demolished in the late 1960s, despite the protests of architects, historians, ethnographers and just city dwellers.
Kaliningrad was rebuilt and went through industrialization and modernization. Kaliningrad region was one of the most western territories of the USSR. As it was a strategically important area during the Cold War, it was closed to foreign visitors.
Since 1991, Kaliningrad is open to international cooperation with foreign countries, especially with Germany and Poland in the field of business, culture and education.
Today, a lot of foreign institutions operate in the city providing information, administrative and visa support.
Kaliningrad was repeatedly recognized as the best city in Russia (in 2012, 2013 and 2014). It is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and the best city in Russia for doing business according to the rating of Forbes magazine.
The climate is transitional from maritime to continental. Due to the influence of the Gulf Stream, winters are warmer than in continental regions of Eurasia. The average temperature in January is minus 1.5 degrees Celsius, in July - plus 18.1 degrees C.
Today, Kaliningrad has more than 100 hotels of different categories, more than a dozen of them are four-star hotels and more than 30 - three-star hotels. In the coming years, in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it is planned to build 15 new hotels, including one five-star hotel. Due to low prices and high quality of service in hotels, Kaliningrad is one of the most attractive cities for travelers.
Khrabrovo International Airport offers flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Berlin, Barcelona, Kiev, Minsk.
The city is a large center of machine-building. Metallurgy is developed as well as light, printing and fishing industries. Industries absolutely new for Kaliningrad region were formed in the oblast, for example, the automobile plant “Avtotor” (1996) which produces cars licensed by BMW (Germany), KIA (Korea), General Motors (USA).
Kaliningrad is the only Russian Baltic Sea port that is ice-free all year around. Oil terminals located in Kaliningrad sea canal provide export of over 2 million tons of oil product a year from Russia to the countries in western Europe and Scandinavia.
King’s Gate in Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad city architecture
The general architectural outlook of the city is one of the attractions of Kaliningrad. Unfortunately, there are almost no pre-war buildings in the center. The German constructions remained close to the outskirts.
At the end of the 20th century, the attitude towards German architecture changed, some German buildings were restored. Later, the Cathedral church was restored, as well as the historical Konigsberg House of Engineering.
In 2008, the program on restoration of the historical center of Kaliningrad was adopted. It was suggested to reconstruct the pre-war buildings in the central part of the city and to construct the new Konigsberg castle on the old foundation.
- Kaliningrad Historical and Art Museum, the oldest museum in the city founded in 1946. The main building of the museum (the former Stadthalle built in 1912) is located in the center of Kaliningrad, close to Nizhny pool (Klinicheskaya Street, 21);
- The Amber Museum. It is located in a historic building (the defensive tower “Dona”), restored after the war (Marshal Vasilevskiy Square, 1);
- Kaliningrad Art Gallery, one of the youngest and rapidly developing museums in Russia, up to 60 exhibitions of Russian and foreign art are held here every year (Moskovskiy Avenue, 60/62);
- The Museum of the World Ocean. It is the first comprehensive marine museum in Russia that has exhibitions devoted to navigation, marine flora and fauna, geology and hydrology of the oceans. You can explore the museum ships “Vityaz”, “Cosmonaut Viktor Patsaev” (one of the ships used for space research by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR), the submarine B-413, as well as the skeleton of a cachalot, see a collection of old cannons and anchors (Peter the Great embankment, 1);
- The museum “Lost and Found” has ancient items found while clearing lakes and building houses. It is located in Friedland gates which is an interesting ancient monument itself (Dzerzhinskiy Street, 30);
- Kaliningrad non-state museum of fortification and military equipment formed on the basis of the Fort #5.
- Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theater,
- Kaliningrad Regional Musical Theater,
- Kaliningrad Puppet Theater,
- Organ Hall of the Kaliningrad Regional Philharmonic, located in a historic building of the former Catholic Church of the Holy Family,
- A large concert hall with two organs, located in the Cathedral church on the island of Kneiphof,
- Variety Theater, located in the House of Arts at Mount Haberberg.
The Cathedral church - the former main church of Konigsberg
By the end of the 20th century, the Cathedral church was fully restored. Today, it is a cultural and religious center. One can listen to concerts of spiritual and organ music there. The church has 2 organs. One of them, the largest in Europe, was restored using old drafts.
Orthodox and Lutheran chapels are located in the church towers, as well as exhibits devoted to Kneiphof island history, the philosopher Immanuel Kant and the Cathedral church itself. The church is one of the main places of interest in Kaliningrad now (Kant Street, 1).
Besides the Cathedral church, nine pre-war churches are retained in Kaliningrad. Juditten Kirch (St. Nicholas church), constructed in the 12th century, is the oldest preserved building in Kaliningrad. All the rest survived churches of the German time are much younger and are referred to the end of the 19th - early 20th centuries.