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Kaliningrad ( , , , Prussian:TwńĀnksta) is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblastmarker, the Russianmarker exclave between Polandmarker and Lithuaniamarker on the Baltic Seamarker. The territory, the northern part of the former East Prussia, borders on NATOmarker and EU members Polandmarker and Lithuaniamarker, and is geographically separated from the rest of Russia.

Originally named Königsbergmarker, the Prussian and German town had been founded in 1255, and was then largely destroyed during World War II. Its ruins were occupied by the Soviet Army in 1945 and it was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946 in honour of Mikhail Kalinin. The former Russian name was Kyonisberg ( ).

At the 2002 Census, its population was 430,003, an increase from the 401,280 recorded in the 1989 Census. Its ethnic composition is 77.9% Russians, 8.0% Belarusians, 7.3% Ukrainians, 1.9% Lithuanians, 0.6% Germans and 0.5% Poles.


As Königsberg

The castle of Königsberg was built in 1255 by the Teutonic Knights as a tribute to King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who had led a campaign against pagan Sambians. The town became a member of the Hanseatic League, then in 1457 headquarters of the Teutonic Order, and seat of the secular Duchy of Prussiamarker in 1525. Königsberg became a centre of education when the Albertina University was founded by Duke Albert of Prussia in 1544. By the act of coronation in Königsberg in 1701, Prince-elector Frederick III of Brandenburg became Frederick I, King in Prussia. After World War I, the creation of the Polish Corridor cut off East Prussia and Königsberg from the rest of Weimar Germanymarker.

What remained of Königsberg City Centre in 1949.
King's castle in 1950s
the bombing of K√∂nigsberg in World War II in 1944, the town suffered heavy damage from British air attacks and burned for several days. The historic city center, including Altstadt, L√∂benicht and Kneiphof, was completely destroyed: the cathedral, the castle, all the churches of the old city, the old and the new universities and the old shipping quarter were destroyed. The Battle of K√∂nigsberg raged all through February and March 1945. The city was bombed and shelled continuously. On April 9 the German military commander surrendered the remnants of his forces to the Soviet army. About 50,000 residents (compared to K√∂nigsberg's population on January 1, 1940 of 372,270) remained in the ruins of the devastated city. The remaining German population was expelled by the Soviet Union from 1945‚Äď48.

The city is famous in the history of mathematics in connection with the famous Seven Bridges of Königsbergmarker problem. The solution of this problem by Leonard Euler was the beginning of the branch of mathematics known as graph theory, and the first example of methods which were to form the mathematical discipline of Topology.

Soviet Union

Map of Kaliningrad Oblast in the historical Northeastern Prussia
At the end of World War II in 1945, the city became part of the Soviet Unionmarker pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement (as part of the Russian SFSR) as agreed upon by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference:

The Conference examined a proposal by the Soviet Government that pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement the section of the western frontier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which is adjacent to the Baltic Seamarker should pass from a point on the eastern shore of the Bay of Danzigmarker to the east, north of Braunsbergmarker and Goldapmarker, to the meeting point of the frontiers of Lithuaniamarker, the Polish Republicmarker and East Prussia.

The Conference has agreed in principle to the proposal of the Soviet Government concerning the ultimate transfer to the Soviet Union of the city of Koenigsberg and the area adjacent to it as described above, subject to expert examination of the actual frontier.

The President of the United States and the British Prime Minister have declared that they will support the proposal of the Conference at the forthcoming peace settlement.
Koenigsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946 after the death of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Mikhail Kalinin, one of the original Bolsheviks. The German population was expelled and the city was repopulated with Russian citizens. German was replaced by Russian as the language of everyday life. The city was rebuilt, and went through industrialisation and modernisation. As the westernmost territory of the USSRmarker, the Kaliningrad Oblastmarker became a strategically important area during the Cold War. The Soviet Baltic Fleet was headquartered in the city in the 1950s. Because of its strategic importance, Kaliningrad was closed to foreign visitors.

In 1957 an agreement was signed and later came into force which delimited the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union. (Full text: ), for other issues of the frontier delimitation see.

Russian Federation

Kaliningrad is the only Russian Baltic Seamarker port that is ice-free all year around and hence plays an important role in maintenance of the Baltic Fleet.

Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave, geographically separated from the rest of Russia. This isolation from the rest of Russia became even more pronounced politically when Polandmarker and Lithuaniamarker became members of NATO and subsequently the European Union in 2004. All military and civilian land links between the region and the rest of Russia have to pass through members of NATO and the EU. Special travel arrangements for the territory's inhabitants have been made through the Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) and Facilitated Rail Transit Document (FRTD).

Today, there is some debate about changing the name of the city back to "Königsberg" in the same way that several other Russian cities have reverted to their pre-Soviet names, e.g. St. Petersburg and Tvermarker, which were known in the Soviet era as Leningrad and Kalinin, respectively. "Kyonig" (a shortened Russian form of "Königsberg") is often used in advertisements for tourism companies in the region. Another possibility would be to give it a Russian name similar to other historic Slavic names, such as "Korolevets".

In July 2007, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov declared that if US-controlled missile defense systems were deployed in Poland, then nuclear weapons might be deployed in Kaliningrad. On 5 November 2008, Russian leader Dimitry Medvedev said that installing missiles in Kaliningrad was almost a certainty. These plans were suspended, however, in January 2009.


Kaliningrad is located at the mouth of the navigable Pregolya Rivermarker/Pregelmarker River, which empties into the Vistula Lagoonmarker, an inlet of the Baltic Seamarker.

Sea vessels can access GdaŇĄsk Baymarker/Bay of Danzigmarker and the Baltic Seamarker by way of the Vistula Lagoon and the Strait of Baltiyskmarker.

Until circa 1900 ships drawing more than of water could not pass the bar and come into town, so that larger vessels had to anchor at Pillau (now Baltiyskmarker), where merchandise was moved onto smaller vessels. In 1901 a ship canal between Königsberg and Pillau was completed at a cost of 13 million German marks which enabled vessels of a draught to moor alongside the town. (See also Ports of the Baltic Sea.)

Khrabrovo Airportmarker is located north of Kaliningrad, and has a few scheduled/charter services to several destinations throughout Europe. There is the smaller Kaliningrad Devau Airportmarker for general aviation. Kaliningrad is also home to Kaliningrad Chkalovskmarker naval air base.

City districts

The city is divided into five city districts, called raions.

City raion

(Gorodskoy raion)
Russian name Inhabitants

1 January 2006
Baltiyskiy (Baltic raion) –Ď–į–Ľ—ā–ł–Ļ—Ā–ļ–ł–Ļ 67.461  
Moskovskiy (Moscow raion) –ú–ĺ—Ā–ļ–ĺ–≤—Ā–ļ–ł–Ļ 83.389
Leningradskiy (Leningrad raion) –õ–Ķ–Ĺ–ł–Ĺ–≥—Ä–į–ī—Ā–ļ–ł–Ļ 150.757 named after Leningrad, now Saint Petersburgmarker, Russiamarker
Oktyabrskiy (October raion) –ě–ļ—ā—Ź–Ī—Ä—Ć—Ā–ļ–ł–Ļ 43.239 named after the October revolution
Tsentralnyy (Central raion) –¶–Ķ–Ĺ—ā—Ä–į–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ—č–Ļ 78.805 lies to the northwest of the historical city centre




Museum of History and Arts (former city hall)
Kaliningrad has many museums. A few examples are the Immanuel Kant museum on the Kneiphofmarker island, the Museum of History and Arts, which still has parts of the so-called Prussia collection of local archaeological findings, and the Kaliningrad Amber Museum, which is situated in the Dohna tower near the Rossgarten Gatemarker. The city also has an art gallery with eight exhibition rooms.

The Museum of the World's Oceans is located on the former research vessel Wityaz on the shore of the Pregelmarker river. The museum displays the newest technologies on sea research and also shows the diversity of the flora and fauna of the world's oceans. An anchored Foxtrot-class submarine next to the museum, the B-413, hosts an exhibit about the Russian submarine fleet.


Main city's theatre
Kaliningrad Philharmonic Orchestra is accommodated in the former Catholic Church of the Holy Familymarker of Königsberg, built in 1907. The church was destroyed during World War II, but rebuilt afterwards. The building, which has noted acoustics, functions as an organ hall since re-opening in 1980.

The city's theatre is still located in the former Königsberg theater, which was opened in 1910. The building was rebuilt after the war using earlier plans for the theater and opened in 1960. The colonnade in front af the entrance was modeled after the Bolshoi Theatremarker in Moscow.

The regionally famous Kaliningrad Puppet Theatre has had its seat since 1975 in the Queen Louise Remembrance Church. This neo-romantic church, designed by architect Fritz Heitmann, was built in 1901.


Gate of the Friedrichsburg Castle
The former Königsberg Stock Exchange
The pre-war city centre (Altstadt and Kneiphof) currently consists of parks, broad avenues, a square on the site of the former Königsberg Castle, and only two buildings: the House of the Soviets ("Dom Sovyetov"), roughly on the site of the former Castle, and the restored Königsberg Cathedralmarker on the Kneiphof island (now "Kant island"). Immanuel Kant's grave is situated next to the Cathedral. The new city centre is concentrated around Victory Squaremarker. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviourmarker, consecrated in 2005, is located on that square.

Also worth seeing are the former Stock Exchange, the surviving churches, and the remaining city gates. In anti-clockwise order these gates are: the Sackheim Gatemarker ( ), King's Gatemarker ( ), Rossgarten Gatemarker ( ), Attack Gate ( ), Railway Gate ( ), Brandenburg Gatemarker ( ), and Friedland Gate ( ). Apart from the already mentioned Dohna tower, which houses the Amber museum, the Wranger tower also remains as a reminder of the former Königsberg city walls. Only the gate of the former Friedrichsburg Castle remains.


The Kant statue.
Monument for the 1200 Guardsmen.
Notable monuments include the statue of Immanuel Kant in front of the Immanuel Kant State University of Russia. The statue was made by famous sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch and unveiled in 1864. The statue was destroyed in 1945, but was remoulded in 1992 on the initiative of Marion Dönhoff. Also worth seeing is the Cosmonaut monument, which honours the Kaliningrad cosmonauts Alexei Leonov, Yuri Romanenko and Alexander Viktorenko. Other statues and monuments include the statue for count Albrecht, the statue for Friedrich Schiller, the statue for tsar Peter the Great, the "Mother Russia" monument, and the Monument for the 1200 Guardsmen, remembering the Battle of Königsberg.


The Kaliningrad Zoomarker was opened as the Königsberg Zoo in 1896. The collection, which extends over 16.5 ha, comprises 315 species with a total of 2264 individual animals (as of 2005). The Kaliningrad zoo is also an arboretum.

Lower Pond

Centrally located in the city is Lower Pondmarker ( ), an artificial lake. Lower Pond is surrounded by a promenade, and the area is popular for recreation, especially in summer.



The modern city and region of Kaliningrad is home to the Kaliningrad Regional Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestra, the Lik male chamber choir and the Garmonika Russian music ensemble, as well as the Kaliningrad Chamber Orchestra.


Rosgarten gate - now a restaurant
Kaliningrad has its own vodka and beer brands, Stari Konigsberg and Ostmark respectively. Since the early 1990s many new restaurants have opened in the city. These restaurants offer culinary specialities of former East Prussia, like Königsberger Klopse, but also many fish and salad dishes, Italian pizza and sushi, which is as popular in Kaliningrad as in the rest of Russia. Königsberger Fleck, a bovine tripe soup and yet another culinary speciality from former Königsberg, no longer belongs to the eating culture of Kaliningrad.

The people of Kaliningrad generally imported their respective culinary traditions to the region when they settled in the area after 1945. Borshch and okroshka are very popular, like in the rest of Russia.


Kaliningrad central railway station
A Kaliningrad tram
Kaliningrad's airportmarker is located near Khrabrovomarker. The airport mainly connects Kaliningrad to other Russian cities, but also offers flights to cities in Western Europe and Israel. In Baltiyskmarker one can take a ferry to Saint Petersburgmarker, Copenhagenmarker, Rigamarker, and Kielmarker. Kaliningrad's international train station is Kaliningrad Passazhirskiy, which in German times was known as Königsberg Hauptbahnhof. Trains depart in the directions of Malborkmarker, Berlinmarker, Baltiyskmarker, Moscowmarker, Saint Petersburgmarker, Minskmarker, Kharkivmarker, Anapamarker, and Bagrationovskmarker. A unique feature of the Kaliningrad railway is that the track in the direction of Berlin has a normal gauge, instead of the common Russian broad gauge.

Regional trains depart from Kaliningrad Severnyy, the former Königsberg Nordbahnhof, which is situated on Victory Square, the current city centre. Trains depart to Zelenogradskmarker and Svetlogorskmarker and also once a day to Sovetskmarker.

In 1881 the Königsberg tramway was opened, and it still functions to this day. In 1975 a trolleybus system was also introduced.


In 1996 Kaliningrad was designated a Special Economic Zone. Manufacturers based there get tax and customs duty breaks on the goods they send back to Russia. Although corruption was an early deterrent, that policy means the region is now a manufacturing hub. One in three televisions in Russia is made in Kaliningrad, and it is home to Hummer and BMW car plants. Now Kaliningrad's major industries are manufacturing, shipping, fishing and amber products. Moscow has declared it will turn the region into "the Russian Hong Kongmarker".

The European Commissionmarker provides funds for business projects under its special programme for Kaliningrad. The region has begun to see increasing trade with the countries of the EU as well as increasing economic growth and rising industrial output. With an average GDP growth of more than 10% per year for three years to 2007, Kaliningrad is growing faster than any other region in Russia, even outstripping the success of its EU neighbours.


Baltic fleet headquarters
Kaliningrad Oblastmarker used to be the most heavily militarized area of the Russian Federationmarker, and the density of military infrastructure was the highest in Europe. It was the headquarters of the former Soviet Baltic Military District. Kaliningrad also functions as the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet, circled by Chernyakhovsk marker, Donskoye marker and Kaliningrad Chkalovskmarker (naval air base).


Kaliningrad is home to the football club FC Baltika Kaliningrad, which plays in the Russian First Division.

Notable residents

See also: List of people from Königsberg




International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Kaliningrad is twinned with:

See also


  1. Kaliningrad Oblast
  2. Learn Russian in Russia
  3. Transit from/to Kaliningrad Region,
  4. Council Regulation (EC) No 693/2003,
  5. "Medvedev Says Russia to Deploy Missiles Near Poland" Associated Press via Yahoo News
  6. "Russia scraps plans to deploy nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad" The Guardian
  7. Classics - Your Online Guide to Classical Music
  8. 'Kaliningrad erases stains of past' 16 October 2006
  9. 'Regions and territories: Kaliningrad' 18 December 2007

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