Kaliningrad is a western Russian city with a rich history. Its history began in 1255 when the Teutonic Order founded a medieval fortress here. By 1724 the Altstadt, Kneiphof, and Löbenicht settlements surrounding the fortress were united and formed the city of Königsberg (which means "King’s Mountain"). After the Second World War the city became a part of the USSR and was renamed Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad still keeps the air of an ancient German town and continues to evolve. The shipbuilding industry plays an important role in Kaliningrad's development because it has a route to the Baltic Sea. Tourism is also a significant part of Kaliningrad's daily life. This city is full of sights, architectural monuments, museums, and German buildings. Today, the historic appearance of the city attracts tourists from all over the world. It's a beautiful location with mild climate, healing air, and developed infrastructure. In this article you will get to know the main sights of Kaliningrad, its best hotels and also the history of amber.
Victory Square (Pobedy Square)
Victory Square is the main square of the historical city center. There are fountains and the magnificent Triumphal Column. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior located on the square is the main orthodox church in Kaliningrad. Apart from historical objects there are contemporary malls in the square with a wide range of goods, because Kaliningrad is near Poland and Lithuania. These malls make Victory Square one of the most popular spots for shopping lovers. It is best to head from here to another historical site - the Königsberg Cathedral on Kant Island, in order to get to know Kaliningrad and its main sights.
This is one of the oldest and most majestic places in Kaliningrad. The Cathedral is the symbol of the city. Concerts of classical, church, and organ music are held in it. Every day, you can visit mini concerts and immerse yourself in the mysterious gothic world. The building itself is located on Kant Island. There is a museum dedicated to the German philosopher with ancient manuscripts, books, and also Kant's posthumous mask stored in it. Near the building is the tomb of the famous philosopher. It's a good place not only for immersing into the cultural and historical world, but also for walking around the ancient site. In order to give yourself a broader experience, you may take a tour on a ship around the island and then visit an organ music concert.
Near the Königsberg Cathedral is the Fishing Village. Previously, there was a fishermen’s settlement here on the banks of the river Pregel. Alongside the river there were markets where people used to come with great pleasure to get fresh fish. Today buildings in the German style are situated here, as well as the "Lighthouse" tower with an observation platform. The unusual contrast and the charm of old Western Europe attract tourists to walk around the village, take photos, and enjoy the view. Locals love visiting this place too and sometimes even go fishing.
Church of the Holy Family
The history of this place began when architect Friedrich Heitmann wanted to build a church to visit with all his family. Conducting baptisms and weddings in the church was also important to him. Today the church is a religious site, a place for cultural events, and also an architectural monument. In 1945 it was seriously damaged, but later restored and made a part of the regional philharmonic society. The high style of the tower, medieval architecture, contrast, and consistency make this place special. The cultural program includes organ music concerts, which attract the adoration of visitors. Organ music festivals are also regularly conducted in the building.
There are seven city gates in Kaliningrad, which tourists admire for their appearance and architectural details. First of all, you should look at the King's Gate. It is one the most significant monuments in the Königsberg fortress. The building is designed in the usual neo-gothic style. It was the King's Gate that was a symbol for the celebration of the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad. It's known that Napoleon Bonaparte entered the ancient town of Königsberg through this gate. We advise you to also visit: The Sackheim Gate, Brandenburg Gate, Friedland Gate, Friedrichsburg Gate, Railway Gate, Attack Gate, Rossgarten Gate. There are museums and vintage exhibitions in some of them.
Museum of the World Ocean
The Museum of the World Ocean is the central maritime museum of Russia. It holds the scientific research vessel "Vityaz", the vessel for space communication "Kosmonavt Viktor Patsayev", the submarine "B-413", and the fishing trawler "SRT-129", all near the museum. In the museum you will get to see various exhibits, ranging from depth charges to torpedo tubes, and be able to visit expositions and vessels. The museum works in two different directions: the history of the World Ocean research and its nature. An exposition dedicated to the history from man's first attempts to conquer the sea until nowadays is presented on the museum ship "Vityaz". Special attention is paid to the contribution of Russian scientists to the research of ocean.
Fort #3 "King Friedrich Wilhelm I"
The Fort is a unique construction, which is half underground. There are 12 forts in Kaliningrad in total, but the largest one is Fort #3. It was built in 1879 and was placed on the hill previously called Quednau (nowadays "Severnaya Gora" or "North Mountain"). The fort was used for railroad and highway protection. In spite of the fact that this fort is the oldest one, it is well preserved and became one of the first buildings in the Königsberg defense system. Fort #3 has received the status of a cultural heritage site of regional importance.
The Kaliningrad Zoo is one of the largest and oldest zoological gardens in Russia. During the Second World War a lot of its animals died. There is a well-known story of hippopotamus Hans, who was nursed back to health and lived for a long time in the zoo. Since that time his picture became a symbol of the Kaliningrad Zoo. Today the Kaliningrad Zoo contains more than 2500 animals of different species. The zoo also can boast of a wonderful arboretum with unique plants. You may take a walk by yourself or order an observation excursion. Different events, performances, and marathons are conducted in the zoo.
And finally, you just have to visit the Amber Museum. The most marvelous and unusual amber stones of different sizes are collected in it. There are 28 rooms in the building. These rooms represent many expositions containing exhibits from stones to figures and pictures. Also in the courtyard art decorations are established, they draw visitors' attention. Amber is the main stone of the Baltic. In the museum you will find the most interesting amber exhibits, learn the history of the origin of amber, and also buy souvenirs and jewelry. Icons, sculptures, and artists' exhibitions, programs for teenagers and children, lectures, workshops, and competitions are conducted here. It is not only interesting for adults to visit the museum, but also for children.
Amber is a wonderful stone that is formed from the resin of coniferous trees. It is extracted in the Kaliningrad region on the shores of the Baltic sea. Amber is respected from ancient times, when this stone was not only a jewelry, but also a charm. Usually its color is honey yellow, but there is white amber as well. It is considered to have healing properties, and helps to treat people and animals. For medical purposes amber powder and resin are used. Even amber jewelry is healing by itself. Many people believe that running their fingers over amber beads helps the spirit recover and strengthen. This is a unique piece of jewelry that is pleasing to the eye and adds elegance to your style. This is a stone of health, happiness, love. It is a charm that helps to avoid quarrels and misfortunes.
The stone can have various insects inside because the amber resin mummifies everything that is in it. Except for insects, there might be frogs, lizards, and so on. Most of amber is found on the shore of the Baltic sea, and here it is called "the gold of the Baltic". Usually it is washed onto shore after storms.
You can buy jewelry and other items made of amber in the amber museum, which is located in Kaliningrad itself, and learn about its origin and ancient history in detail. It is also sold in different gift shops and stores. Since this stone is a symbol of the Baltic sea, there are many specialized shops in Kaliningrad and the region that produce jewelry, figures, pictures, figurines, lighters, and a lot of other things made from amber. It is better to buy souvenirs in the specialized shops because there are many attempts to fake the amber because of its fame and value. The price depends on your preferences. For example, in the amber museum you can buy a souvenir from 200 rubles.
And finally a couple of interesting spots where you can stay
The hotel is located on the banks of the river Pregel in the Fishing Village. There are main historical city sights near it. Kaiserhof combines comfort, great service and a complex of wellness programs. Its SPA Center provides a wide range of cosmetic and relaxing procedures. For those who would like to stay active there is sports equipment and a gym. In the hotel there is the Hofburg restaurant, which is designed in the medieval knight style. There are shops and a library on the territory and there is also an opportunity to fish. Guests praise the excellent location, polite personnel, and coziness most of all.
The hotel is located in an old German mansion, which is surrounded by a green garden, 7 km from the city center. Usadba has a classical style, restaurant with a terrace, well-groomed territory, and polite personnel. For guests there is a heated swimming pool, library, summer terrace, sauna, and play zone for children. Except for the comfortable rooms and excellent service, a variety of entertainment awaits you. Guests can go horseback riding or just enjoy horse walks. Different events, conferences, celebrations are conducted in the hotel.
"Vityaz" Guest Cabins
What could be more unusual than to wake up in a ship cabin? "Vityaz" Guest Cabins are located on the territory of the Museum of the World Ocean near the city center. Other than the clean comfortable rooms, there is a library, table tennis, play zone, shops, and, of course, unforgettable memories from the stay. The design is educating and themed because you will be on a scientific research vessel. You can go on an excursion on the vessel, which is provided at a discount for the cabin guests.