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The City of Kaliningrad

Leningrad, Stalingrad, Sverdlovsk, Kuybyshev, Kaliningrad… During the Soviet times, it was a tradition to name towns of some importance after the name of a prominent figure of the Communist Party. После распада СССР городам новой России вернули прежние названия (after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cities of the new Russia took back their original names). The only exception was a city on the Baltic coast, где базируется Балтийский флот нашей страны (where is based the Russian Baltic Fleet): Kaliningrad.

The reason why the city didn’t received a new name is quite simple: Kaliningrad region was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1945, по решению Потсдамской конференции (by decision of the Postdam Conference), в качестве трофея по итогам Второй мировой войны (as a trophy following WWII), as well as a compensation for the 27 million people killed during this terrible conflict of civilisations. The region of Kaliningrad with its centre in Kaliningrad (its German name was Königsberg) was attached to the Baltic Soviet Republics, becoming the country’s western region, which today, только уже в статусе эксклава (only have the status of enclave).

After the collapse of Soviet Union и выхода из него прибалтийских стран (and the withdrawal from the Baltic countries), Kaliningrad region was cut off from the rest of Russia. Еhe city received its name in honor of M. I. Kalinin (although he had no connection somehow with Königsberg), followed during the Soviet times of the respectful nickname “всесоюзный староста” (the elder of All-Union).

Once upon a time, the land on which later emerged Königsberg, was inhabited be Slavic tribes, driven away from this territory by the Germans. Previously, the city and the territory of the region уже входили в состав Российской империи (had already entered into the Russian Empire for a short time in the 18th century), on the basis of victorious wars with its European neighbours.

It was in this time that the famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who lived and worked in Kaliningrad, swore allegiance to the Russian Empress Elizabeth, after the city became part of the Russian Empire. The grave of the philosopher is in the Königsberg Cathedral, which is one of the main attractions of the city.

Unfortunately, советскими властями почти не уделялось внимания немецкому культурному и архитектурному наследию Калининграда (the Soviet authorities has paid little attention to the German cultural and architectural heritage of the city), and a great number of architectural monuments were completely destroyed. Today the situation has gradually improved. The city is again visited by a large number of foreign tourists, which were forbidden of doing so until the 1990s.

Город расположен на обеих берегах реки Преголя (the city is located on both banks of the Pregel river) at the mouth of the Bay of Danzig and the Baltic Sea. Today, Kaliningrad is home to about 500.000 people. Here is Russia’s and Baltic states’ only незамерзающий порт на Балтийском морe (ice-free port of the Baltic Sea).

Konigsberg was originally built as a fortified town around its castle, keeping this function until WWII, that is why you can see so many different fortifications, главными из которых являются Королевские ворота (among which the main ones are the King’s Gate).

The main attractions also include здание Кёнигсбергской биржи (the building of Koenigsberg Exchange), “Рыбная деревня” на берегу Преголи (the “Fishing village” on the bank of the Pregel river), Кирха Святого Семейства, которая сегодня в ней расположена Калининградская областная филармония (the church of the Saint Family, which nowadays is home to the Kaliningrad Oblast Philharmonic).

Throughout the city there are a number of monuments both ancient and modern. Today, Kaliningrad is a unique place, где европейское культурное наследие тесно переплелоось с российской культурой, менталитетом и традициями (where the European cultural heritage is closely interwoven with Russian culture, mentality and traditions).

 

Евгения Плещунова

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