Kaliningrad is a low-budget city break away from the tourist trail. Though it can’t compete with more glamorous counterparts such as Moscow, it’s much cheaper and offers a different, less-trodden experience at a time of rapid change.
Despite the size, Kaliningrad surprisingly has a lot to offer thanks to the intertwined history of the city. The city is more famously known as being philosopher Immanuel Kant’s birthplace, Königsberg – a name it retained until it fell into Soviet hands in 1945.
Having fallen on hard times with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the exclave has undergone a recent recovery, having been given special economic status.
To cover all the city at least 3 days will be needed.
The city’s iconic Gothic-style Lutheran cathedral, started in 1333 and completed over the course of the 14th century in the red brick which punctuates so much of Hanseatic architecture, has had to bounce back from some serious setbacks over the centuries. Sitting bang in the middle of Kant Island in the Pregel River, hundreds of stout oaken stilts had to be inserted into the boggy ground before work could even begin and, having partially overcome that initial hurdle (subsidence is still a pressing issue), it had to be restored several times as a result of devastating fires. Indeed, the highly conspicuous absence of one of the two original spires was the result of one such fire in 1544. WW2 saw the cathedral more thoroughly destroyed, this time by Allied air raids, and it remained in ruins until 1992 when a huge rebuilding project got underway.
Inside you can normally get access to the church part downstairs and/or the Kant Museum, which is located up a steep spiral staircase in the foyer. The church part interestingly features both a Lutheran chapel (located under the restored spire, where a group of around 100 sheltering civilians died during a WW2 air raid) and a Russian Orthodox chapel, the latter one also being added during refurbishment in the early-1990s to symbolise reconciliation within the local community.
The Amber Museum is a one-mineral treasury. The Museum exposition occupies three floors with a total space of 1,000 square meters. Thematically, it consists of two sections: one is devoted to science – natural history and geology and the other – to history and culture.
Amber is fossilized resin of ancient conifers that grew more than 40 million years ago on the territory of modern south of the Scandinavian Peninsula and adjoining part of the Baltic Sea bed.
In the scientific part of the exposition amber samples of different weight, colour, clarity are presented. In exposition are the biggest “sunstone” in Russia weighing 4.28 kilograms. The considerable part of the collection includes amber specimens with inclusions of animals and plant remains that were stuck in liquid viscous resin about millions years ago. The inclusions are the thing of great interest of scientist due to their variety and very good preservation. They are essential for specification our knowledge about flora and fauna of planet 40 – 45 million years ago. Today the collection of Kaliningrad amber museum is the main Russian national fund of Baltic amber inclusions.
The Curonian Spit offers some of Europe’s finest landscapes as well as cozy towns and villages. Two of the most impressive ranges of dunes are the Grey Dunes (or the Dead Dunes) north of the village of Pervalka and the range of dunes. The Curonian Spit is UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the great sand dunes. It is a unique and vulnerable, sandy and wooded cultural landscape on a coastal spit. The average height of the sand dunes is about 35 meters, but some are around 60 meters. There is only 1 single road which traverses the Curonian Spit.
Between Morskoye and Rybachy, there is dancing forest where the trunks “dance”. Almost every trunk is curiously shaped, with loops, bends and corkscrews more akin to Thorpe Park than a nature park.
The pines were planted in the Sixties to stabilise the giant dunes that flank either side of the spit – but it is the trees that seem unstable. Residents also refer to the crooked wood as the “Drunken Forest” and the phenomenon continues to baffle boffins.
Zelenogradsk and Svetlogorsk
A one-day trip along the Zemland Peninsula offers tourists the chance to visit Zelenogradsk( Cranz) and Svetlogorsk(Rauschen) – the most beautiful resorts of Kaliningrad region.
The first stop is in Zelenogradsk/Cranz.
The German name Cranz, originally Cranzkuhren, derives from the old Prussian word krantas, meaning “the coast”. Zelenogradsk has become well-known since 1816, now it is the most favorite place for Kaliningrad citizens and visitors.
Zelenogradsk preserves the charm of a small flat sea town with its streets leading to the man-made parapet on the seaside. The underwater sea currents create most favourable resort conditions in this area. Zelenogradsk is located within a 10 minutes drive from the unique sanctuary ‘the Curonian spit’.
Next stop is the acknowledged tourist centre – Svetlogorsk/Rauschen – it became known as a resort in 1913. You will enjoy the town’s treelined streets, pine woods and beaches as well as visit a former Catholic church, the XIXth century Water Tower and Art Noveau Bathhouse.
To book a tour please contact the manager of Marlis Travel. We are happy to mape your tour unforgettable and pleasant!