Welcome to Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad, also occasionally known by its prior German name of Königsberg is called ‘Karaliaučius’ in Lithuanian. Lithuanians, cousins to the ‘Old Prussians’, used to live here. Along with the Polish name (Krolewiec) it is sometimes known as the ‘City of the Four Ks: Kaliningrad/Königsberg/Krolewiec/Karaliaučius’. Following WWII it was briefly known as Kyonigsberg (Кёнигсберг), the Russified form of the original German name.

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While Königsberg revelled in regal architecture and a cosmopolitan European culture, Kaliningrad carries more than a whiff of its days as an outpost of the USSR. But despite vast swaths of brutal Stalin-stamped buildings and unmistakably Soviet monuments, the city is a pleasant one, softened by leafy parks, revitalised historical enclaves, exceptional museums, charming neighbourhoods and its trademark city gates. Kaliningrad is easy to navigate: public transport abounds, as do welcoming locals all too willing to lend visitors a hand.

After Kaliningrad Cathedral, the most visible remains of Königsberg are its red-brick fortification walls, bastions and gates, built between the 17th and 19th centuries. The remains of the city’s castle were destroyed and replaced by the hideous Dom Sovietov (House of Soviets) in the 1960s. During the eyesore’s construction it was discovered that the land below was hollow, housing a (now-flooded) four-level underground passage connecting to the cathedral. The decaying, half-finished building has never been used.

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