La ciudad del ámbar
27 October, 2014
Strategically located by the Baltic Sea, between Lithuania and Poland, in Kaliningrad there is a mixture of the Soviet influences and the German roots, when Kaliningrad was the capital city of East Prussia and it was one of the major cities in Europe, better known as Köningsberg.
In 1945, during World War II, the red army occupied Köningsberg, which name changed to Kaliningrad in the memory the president of the Supreme Soviet until 1946, Mikhail Kalinin.
The city was rebuilt after the destruction during the war, creating and odd mixture of elements. Kaliningrad is a Russian setting far from its capital and 600 kilometres far from Pskow, the closest Russian city.
Baltic region is known as the biggest amber site and the most important mines are in Kaliningrad. This valuable material has reputation worldwide for its beauty and the healing properties, also magic, which are given to it.
There is a legend that says they are tears from Yurati, Goddess of the Sea, who wasn’t allowed to be in love with a mortal and was chained to the seabed, next to the castle, crying that sorrow. This romantic story tells that amber teardrops reach the sea bay but, actually, it is made from the solidified resin of tropical trees that used to be in the area.
Amber is a fragile material but that can be easily modified by the masterfully of local artists and jewellers who used this valuable good. There are many objects made from this precious organic stone at an affordable price in the old buildings at the port, which are nowadays used as workshops.
This fishermen town is made of many buildings that look like a German old historic quarter, pretty different to the rest of Kaliningrad, with red roofs and colourful facades. You can reach the highest point of the drawbridge or start here a boat trip along the Pregolya river. Furthermore, from this area there is a magnificent view of the city and a great walk to the Cathedral, one of the main attractions in the city, by several restaurants and cafés.
In Kaliningrad an Amber museum was built at the Dohna tower, with a unique collection of more than 6.000 pieces, with insects and plants encapsulated inside, hand-made products or a huge pip of 4.280 kg, occupying 28 rooms.
The building is already a beautiful castle made of red bricks, raised by the Teutonic Knights, who had here one of the main headquarters.
Another building of the Teutonic Knights was the Köningsberg castle, which was one of the main symbols for the city. The castle was destroyed during Köningsberg bombings and now there is the Central Square and the Soviets House.
From the previous castle, there are still underground tunnels that made the ground unstable. This was called “the Prussians revenge” and it has cost lots of money and time to fix it.
In Kaliningrad region there are about forty more beautiful medieval castles, an interesting architectural route following the path of the Teutonic Knights.
Other interesting places
The most distinguished character from the city is Immanuel Kant, philosopher, who was born and buried in Kaliningrad. The tomb is outside the cathedral, with a plaque quoting, in Russian and German, the "Conclusion" from Critique of Practical Reason: “there are two things that fill my mind with an ever new and enhanced wonder and amazement, even they at continuously reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
The city is surrounded by a large number of fortresses from the 19th century. The Germans used them as a defence. Even they are abandoned, there is a route to visit the ruins.
Zelenogradsk - Cranz
24 kilometres north from Kaliningrad there is an spa area, a holidays resort where locals and tourists arrived attracted by the beaches, thermal waters and cultural heritage, with over seven centuries of history.
Fishing village by Anton Zelenov | Baltic Amber by Michal Kosior
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.
27 October, 2014