Ermak Travel Guide

 

Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad, until July 4, 1946 - Königsberg, until 1255 - Tvangste - Russian city, which, by decision of the Potsdam Conference of 1946, the northern part of the German province of East Prussia, together with its capital Königsberg, was transferred to the USSR after World War II. Today, the city of Kaliningrad is part of Russia and the most western regional center of Russia. It is located at the confluence of the Pregoli River in the Kaliningrad Bay. Population - 475 056 people. (2018). According to the city authorities, from 120 to 180 thousand residents of the region and visitors from other regions of the country living and working in Kaliningrad are added in a relatively legal manner. Kaliningrad is the second most populous city (the first is St. Petersburg) in the North-Western Federal District, the third (after Riga and Vilnius) in the Baltic basin and the seventh among the cities of the Baltic Sea coast. Kaliningrad is one of the six main centers of internal migration attraction in Russia over the past two decades. The city is the core of the rapidly growing Kaliningrad agglomeration with a population of over 715 thousand people.

Kaliningrad is a major transportation hub: railways and highways; sea ​​and river ports; Khrabrovo International Airport. The headquarters of the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy is located in Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is among the 25 largest industrial centers of Russia.

There are museums in Kaliningrad (Amber Museum, Historical and Artistic, World Ocean, Art Gallery, Fortification Museum, etc.), theaters, large libraries (in particular, fragments of the medieval book collection - Wallenrodt Library), a zoo, a botanical garden. In the center of the city is the Cathedral in the Gothic. Until 2010, Kaliningrad had the status of a “historic city”. In 2018, the city held matches of the World Cup.

 

 

 

Travel Destinations in Kaliningrad

The old cathedral of Königsberg, Kanta 1 (Easily approachable by foot either from the direction of the Kaliningrad Hotel (take the left side of the Leninsky Prospekt auto bridge south, and descend the stairs when the cathedral appears on your left) or from the direction of the Fish Village), ☎ +7 4012 63-17-05. 9AM to 5PM. Founded in 1333, largely reconstructed after World War II, the cathedral on Kneiphof Island along the Pregolya River is a sight to see. The cathedral links Kaliningrad to its German past, as it is where the Prussian kings were once crowned. There are two rooms in the Cathedral Museum devoted to the life of Kant, whose tomb lies beside the cathedral walls. Up the stairs to the left of the main door is a three-story museum dedicated to the life and work of Immanuel Kant (separate ticket needed). Kant's grave can be viewed outside the cathedral, on the northeast corner of the building. 270 rubles.

The House of Soviets. Known to locals as 'The Monster,' this is sort of an anti-attraction, but useful for orientation in the city center. It was constructed on the ruins of the Königsberg Castle, but was deemed structurally unsound and therefore never occupied. Rumor has it that a mysterious owner prevents it from being demolished. An archaeological dig is active on the grounds, which is not open to tourists, but specialists may be able to arrange for a visit of the remains of the castle.

 

The old fortifications

The old fortifications. From approx. 1860-70, they include 15 town gates - Sackheim, King's, Rossgarten, Attack, Railway, Brandenburg, Friedland, Friedrich Wilhelm III. One of the towers is home to the Amber Museum.

 

Königsberg knowingly gained the reputation of a fortress city, built in the form of a bastion fortification system. There still remains a large number of defensive structures: the city gates, ravelins, reduits of bastions, barracks, defensive moats. The most popular among tourists is a chain of preserved city gates, which surrounded the central part of the city. The profile of the fortress wall is quite well read on the map, and on the way there are other objects that, incidentally, may be stylistically similar to defenses, but have a great history. All the preserved gates were built in the middle of the XIX century in the neo-Gothic style, often at the site of the older gates.

The Royal Gate (the intersection of Frunze Street and the Lithuanian Val). In 2005, the Royal Gate was a symbol of the celebration of the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad. From the same year, the gate is a branch of the Museum of the World Ocean. There is an exposition dedicated to visiting the Konigsberg Grand Embassy of Peter I.
Zakheim Gates. The intersection of Moscow Avenue and the Lithuanian shaft. The lower rooms are converted into an art cafe.
Friedland Gate (the intersection of Kalinin Avenue and Dzerzhinsky St.). At the gate is a museum.
Ravelin Friedland.
The Brandenburg Gate (on Bagration Street, a few hundred meters from the Kaliningrad Yuzhny Railway Station). The only city gate of Kaliningrad, still used for its intended purpose (through which passes the roadway, the tram line and the pedestrian pavement).
Friedrichsburg Gate.
Railway gates (located under the roadway of Gvardeysky Avenue, next to the monument to 1200 guardsmen). Through the gate passes a footpath leading to the park located behind the monument. In the spring of 2007, the Railway and Ausfalsk gates were handed over to the Kaliningrad History and Art Museum. The restoration of the gates is planned, and the placement of museum expositions of military-historical subjects in their premises. Together with the monument to 1200 guardsmen and Victory Park, the gates should become part of the military-historical complex.
Ausfal Gates (in the southwestern corner of the intersection of Guards Avenue and Mountain Street, in the immediate vicinity of the monument to 1200 guardsmen). This gate is mostly hidden by the earth, so they are the least visible and least known (many Kaliningraders do not even know about their existence). An Orthodox chapel is built on the covering of the gate. In 2007, the gate was transferred to the Historical and Art Museum, their restoration and placement in the gate of the exposition is planned.
Astronomical bastion.
Wrangel Tower.
Tower of the Don.
Rostgarten Gate (next to the Amber Museum, on Vasilevsky Square). Used as a seafood restaurant.
Reduit the bastion of Oberteich.
Barracks Kronprinz.
Reduit Bastion Grolman.

 

Fishing Village. Red-roofed buildings and colourful exteriors illustrate the charm of old Koenigsberg, what Kaliningrad used to be known as.

Victory Square. The central area where the administrative buildings, banks and shops are. 

 

 

History of Kaliningrad

Sambians
Königsberg was preceded by a Sambian (Old Prussian) fort called Twangste (Tuwangste or Tvankste), meaning Oak Forest. During the conquest of the Sambians by the Teutonic Knights in 1255, Twangste was destroyed and replaced with a new fortress named Königsberg. The declining Old Prussian culture finally became extinct around the 17th century, after the surviving Old Prussians were integrated through assimilation and Germanization.

Teutonic Order
The settlement at the site of the present day Kaliningrad was founded as a military fortress in 1255 after the Prussian Crusade by the Teutonic Knights against Baltic Prussians, a non-Germanic ethnic group related to the ancestors of the present-day Lithuanians and Latvians. The new town was named in honor of the Bohemian King Ottokar II. The crusade was followed by immigration from Germany and other regions of Western Europe.

East Prussia
Within the following seven centuries, the area became predominantly German, with Polish and Lithuanian minorities. During World War II the city of Königsberg was heavily damaged by a British bombing attack in 1944 and the massive Soviet siege in spring 1945.

Soviet Union
At the end of World War II in 1945, the city became part of the Soviet Union 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 agreed in principle to the proposal of the Soviet Government concerning the ultimate transfer to the Soviet Union of the city of Königsberg and the area adjacent to it as described above, subject to expert examination of the actual frontier.

The U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee declared that they would support the proposal of the Conference at the forthcoming peace settlement.

Königsberg 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 survivors of the German population were forcibly expelled in 1946–1949, and the city was repopulated with Soviet citizens. The city's language of administration was changed from German to Russian.

The city was rebuilt, and as the westernmost territory of the USSR, the Kaliningrad Oblast 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 border between Poland and the Soviet Union.

Russia
The town of Baltiysk, just outside Kaliningrad, is the only Russian Baltic Sea port said to be "ice-free" all year round, and the region 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 Poland and Lithuania 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).

While in the 1990s many Soviet-era city names commemorating Communist leaders were changed (e.g. Leningrad reverting to Saint Petersburg), Kaliningrad remains named as it was.

Since the early 1990s, the Kaliningrad oblast has been a Free Economic Zone (FEZ Yantar). In 2005 the city marked 750 years of existence as Königsberg/Kaliningrad. 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 November 5, 2008, Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said that installing missiles in Kaliningrad was almost a certainty. These plans were suspended, however, in January 2009.

But during late 2011, a long range Voronezh radar was commissioned to monitor missile launches within about 6,000 kilometres (3,728 miles). It is situated in the settlement of Pionersky (formerly German Neukuhren) in Kaliningrad Oblast.

Even though the current German government has stated it has no claim over Kaliningrad, the former Königsberg, the possibility of such a return to German rule at some future time continues to come up in discussion, creating what is known as "The Kaliningrad question".

In 2018, Kaliningrad hosted some games of the World Cup.

 

Climate

The best time to visit is in summer between June and August, when the temperature is around 20 to 25 deg C. Temperatures in autumn range from 10 to 15 deg C and the season lasts from September to November. The Kaliningrad winter, which is from December to February, is much milder winter than Russia, with temperatures from 5 deg C to minus 11 deg C.

Take along an umbrella, because the weather is unpredictable and windy. The weather is quite humid too, thanks to its proximity to the Baltic Sea. The Baltic sun is mild.

 

 


 

Transportation

Get in
Visa
As Kaliningrad is an exclave of the Russian Federation, almost all visitors require a Russian visa to enter. If you plan to travel overland between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia, you will need at least a double-entry visa in order to exit and re-enter Russia. Travelling by air on domestic flights between Kaliningrad and Moscow or St. Petersburg can be done even with a single-entry visa. For more information about Russian visas, see the visa section on the Russia page.

By plane
1 Khrabrovo Airport ((Аэропорт Храброво) KGD IATA) (16 km (9.9 mi) away from Kaliningrad). A regular bus (144) is going every hour from the terminal to various stops in the city centre for 33 rubles. Taxi service is also available; one company offers a fixed price of 300 rubles to get from the airport to any point in the city; other cab companies might charge substantially more. Khrabrovo Airport on Wikipedia Khrabrovo Airport (Q1431650) on Wikidata edit

Airlines and destinations include:
Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo, St. Petersburg)
airBaltic (Copenhagen Airport, Riga)
Belavia (Minsk)
Gomelavia (Grodno, Gomel, Minsk)
Rossiya (St. Petersburg)
Sky Express (Moscow-Vnukovo)
UTair Aviation (Moscow-Vnukovo)

By train
Long-distance trains leaving from Kaliningrad run on Moscow time, an hour ahead of the local time. Thus a train advertised as leaving at 6:30PM actually leaves at 5:30PM local time. Comedian Yakov Smirnoff might have said, "In Soviet Russia trains are on time, you are late" Clocks at stations use Moscow time. Just to confuse things, local trains run on local time. After witnessing this system, you will no doubt understand that the railways were one of the driving forces for standardized time-zones throughout Europe. East-bound (towards Vilnius in Lithuania) long-distance trains still run regularly. Departures are daily from Moscow (22 h) via Minsk (11 h) and every two days from Saint Petersburg (26 h, also via Minsk).

More irregular services are available from Kiev (26 h), Kharkiv (30 h) and Chelyabinsk (69 h) in the Urals. There's also trains from Black Sea resorts such as Sochi (61 h) and Sevastopol (41 h), expect 1-2 trains a week during summer. All cross-border services across the Polish border have unfortunately been cancelled.

2 Kaliningrad-Passazhirsky (Калининград-Пассажирский), sometimes called Kaliningrad South, is the main railway station and is located at ul. Zheleznodorozhnaya, 15.

By car
The road system is extensive in the Kaliningrad region; however, they are not always well-maintained, and sometimes it is hard to get around because of absence of signage indicating directions/destinations (especially in the city). Driving rules are generally the same as in most European countries, but many do not follow the rules, especially during rush hour in the city. Beware of the traffic police because they like to stop foreigners and often expect bribes.

There are two ways to get to Kaliningrad by car - from Poland and from Lithuania, but you should expect delays on the borders (sometimes it can take a couple of hours)! The green card for insurance has been valid since beginning of 2009.

By bus
Bus time tables for international and regional buses (in English), see: here
Bus from Tallinn via Riga, see: here
Bus to/from Gdańsk (Zloty 28, from Kaliningrad to Gdańsk 500 Rubles) - leaves Gdańsk at 06:00, 06:30, 15:00, 15:30. See: here, and here
Bus to/from Vilnius - leaves Vilnius at 13:15

A night bus also runs from Kaliningrad to Warsaw. However, as of summer 2008 this bus departed not from the main bus station, but from a bus station east of the city centre. To get to this bus station, take Moskovski Prospekt east from the main Leninsky bridge over the river and walk for about a mile. The bus station is clearly visible on the right hand side of the road.

By boat
During summer there is a boat service between Kaliningrad, and Frombork, Krynica Morska and Elblag, Poland - more info at Zegluga Gdanska

 

Get around
City has bus, minibus, trolleybus, and tram networks. The best way to explore the city is by bus. The public transportation system is very good. Half of the population live in the city, hence it is very well-connected. Fares are kept low, at a flat rate of 15 rubles (US$0.50, GB £ 0.30) on the bus and the waiting time is short. Tickets on the buses are handed out by the conductors.

Taxis within the city may have meters, but most prefer to negotiate fares in advance. Minimum charge within the city is at least 100 Rubles, even for short distances.

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Budget
Komnata Otdyha (Комната Отдыха), Inside the main train station (follow the Комната Отдыха signs). The station offers rooms and small dorms. You do not need to show a rail ticket to stay. A good budget option, especially if arriving late. 500 - 1500 RUB.

Mid-range
1 The Art Hotel «Pushkin Hall», Dostoevskogo st. 19, ☎ +7 4012 36-57-52. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. It is a family hotel. €40.

Splurge
2 Kaliningrad Hotel, Leninsky Prospekt 81, ☎ +7 4012 536021, e-mail: rezerv@hotel.kaliningrad.ru. A landmark hotel in the centre, clean and well renovated, within walking distance to most sights. Breakfast buffet is 250 Rubles extra. 2100-2500 Rubles per night.
3 Moscow Hotel, Prospekt Mira 19, ☎ +7 4012 352333, e-mail: rezerv@hotel.kaliningrad.ru. Affiliated with the Kaliningrad Hotel, and quite similar although a little bit up the road, but still near the centre. 2100-2500 Rubles.
4 Radisson Hotel Kaliningrad, Victory Square, 10, ☎ +7 401 259 3344, e-mail: info.kaliningrad@radissonblu.com. On the historic main square. 178 rooms and suites created by Swedish designer Christian Lundveld.
5 Skipper Hotel, Oktyabrskaya Ulitsa 4A (In the Fish Village), ☎ +7 4012 592-000, e-mail: info@skipperhotel.ru. A boutique hotel. Breakfast buffet is 200 Rubles extra. 2500-2800 Rubles per night.

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Papasha Beppe Pizzaria, Leninsky Pr. 20/26 and Baltiiskaya Ul. 12. 11AM to 11PM. Many locals consider this to be the best thin crust and thick crust pizza in town, also a wide variety of salads, pastas, risottos, and desserts. 200-600 Rubles per pizza.
Karamel, Leninsky Prospekt 30 (On the top floor of the Plaza Center; note the separate elevator to the right of the main entrance to the shopping mall.), ☎ +7 4012 53-04-61. Some of the best views from the city from this cafe. Excellent food and fairly broad range of European cuisine, approximately 500 rubles per entree.
Razgulyai, Ploshad' Pobedy 1, ☎ +7 4012 533-689. Cafeteria-style restaurant with rustic decor. Good for children.
Solyanka Cafe, 24 Prospect Mira, ☎ +7 4012-936-203. Try the solyanka, a thick, piquant soup that is either meat-based, fish-based or vegetable-based. It is cooked with preserved cucumbers, olives, capers and tomato puree that give a strong sour-salty taste to the soup. Solyanka is perhaps one of the most popular soups besides borscht (beetroot soup) in Russia, but remains unknown beyond the national boundaries. 500 rubles.
Zarya, Prospekt Mira 41/43 (Just up the street from the Moscow Hotel), ☎ +7 4012 21-39-29. A trendy, upscale restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, wide selection on the menu, excellent desserts. In the same building as a movie theater.

Drink
Twelve Chairs (Dvenadstat' Stulyev). A very chic bohemian style cafe with a decent food menu.
In the Shadows of the Castle (V Teni Zamka) (In the strip mall across from the Kaliningrad Hotel). opens at 11AM. One of Kaliningrad's longest-lasting cafes.
Local beer brands that are available in stores include Ostmark and Königsberg.

Hmel Restaurant and Brewery, Pobedi Square, 10 ('Klover' Shopping Centre, 2nd Floor), ☎ +7 4012-593-377. Live music starts at 9PM every night. A gigantic brewery on the second floor churns out home-made beer. 95 rubles/glass.
Kropotkin, Teatralnaya ulitsa 30 (next to the big McDonald's near Victory Square), ☎ +7 401 266 8060. Self-made beer (100 RUB 0,5l), probably the best in town. Try the unfiltered one. Acceptable food, cosy beerhall atmosphere and business lunch. 400 RUB

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips

Buy

Europa shopping mall, Ploshad Pobedy, 2A Victory Square (Train to Severnyy vokzal), ☎ +7 8 4012 21-08-23. 66,000 m2 of high-end boutiques, cinemas, food and beverage outlets ranging from fine-dining restaurants, cosy cafes to cheap food kiosks.
Viktoriya Supermarket, Leninsky Prospekt 30 (Ground floor of the Plaza Center). A 24-hour supermarket, useful for self-caterers. Other locations throughout the city, too. edit
Amber jewellery and art and craft is the local specialty:

Kaliningrad Amber Factory, Ul. Chernyakhovskovo 62 (also other locations in the city), ☎ +7 8 4012 53 05 45, e-mail: yantar@baltnet.ru. Factory store offering a wide variety of jewelry and objets d'art for almost any budget. edit
Amber pavilion (A few blocks up Leninsky Prospekt from the Kaliningrad Hotel). opens at 10AM. Several stores grouped together with a variety of amber items at competitive prices.
Yantarny, Information tourist center «Gorod Vdohnoveniya», Masterov Square, Yantarny settlement (Located an hour's drive from the city), ☎ +7 8-911-462-79-59- 8-911-462-79-59, e-mail: itcyantarniy@mail.ru. Yantarny has the biggest amber mine in the world and accounts for more than 90 per cent of the world's output. This settlement has a wide variety of amber products.
Amber Museum's gift shop, 1, Marshal Vasilevsky square, ☎ +7 8 4012 46 68 88, +7 8 4012 46 65 50, e-mail: ambermuseum@mail.ru. You can buy a piece of amber from 240 rubles.

 

 

Consulates

Armenia Armenia (Honourary Consulate), Kievskaya street, 23, ☎ +7 4012 681-083, +7 4012 680-022.
Croatia Croatia (General Consulate), Dzherzhinskogo street, 244-A, ☎ +7 4012 60-05-55, fax: +7 (4012) 60-05-56.
Denmark Denmark (Honourary Consulate), Proletarskaya street, 133, ☎ +7 4012 95-76-88.
Germany Germany (General Consulate), Leningradskaya street, 4, ☎ +7 (4012) 920-218 (short-term visas), +7 (4012) 920-220 (admission), +7 (4012) 920-219 (national visas), fax: +7 (4012) 920-229, e-mail: info@kaliningrad.diplo.de. Mon-Thu, 9AM-5PM; Fri 9AM-2PM.
Greece Greece (Honourary Consulate), Ogareva street, 33, ☎ +7 4012 93-60-27, e-mail: scherbakov@avtotor.ru.
Italy Italy (Honourary Consulate), Chernyakhovskogo street, 6 office 108, ☎ +7 4012 53-24-32, fax: +7 (4012) 53-24-32, e-mail: consolatokaliningrad@yandex.ru.
Latvia Latvia (General Consulate), Engels street, 52-а, ☎ +7 921 107-4224, +7 411 270-6755, +7 401 256-5502, +7 8 4012 295-7441, fax: +7 (921) 232-9750, e-mail: chancery.kaliningrad@mfa.gov.lv. Mon-Fri, 9AM-6PM.
Lithuania Lithuania (General Consulate), Proletarskaya street, 133, ☎ +7 4012 95-7688, +7 4012 95-9486, fax: +7 (4012) 95-6838, e-mail: kons.kaliningradas@urm.lt. Mon-Fri, 8-30 - 12-30.
Netherlands Netherlands (Representation at the General Consulate of Sweden), Kutuzova street, 29, ☎ +7 4012 959-400, fax: +7 (4012) 959-433, e-mail: generalkonsulat.kaliningrad@foreign.ministry.se. Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, 9-00 - 12-00.
Norway Norway (Honourary Consulate at the General Consulate of Poland), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, ☎ +7 (4012) 976-440, +7 (4012) 218-741 (visa issues), fax: +7 (4012) 976-443, e-mail: consulat@kaliningrad.polemb.net. Mon-Fri, 8-30AM - 1-00PM.
Poland Poland (General Consulate), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, ☎ +7 (4012) 976-440, +7 (4012) 218-741 (visa issues), fax: +7 (4012) 976-443, e-mail: consulat@kaliningrad.polemb.net. Mon-Fri, 9-00AM - 2-00PM.

Visa Centers
Estonia Estonia (Estonian visa service provided by the Consulate of Lithuania), Proletarskaya street, 133, ☎ +7 4012 95-7688, +7 4012 95-9486, fax: +7 (4012) 95-6838, e-mail: kons.kaliningradas@urm.lt. Mon-Fri, 8-30 - 12-30.
Hungary SloveniaHungary and Slovenia (Hungarian and Slovenian visa service provided by the Consulate of Latvia), Engels street, 52-а, ☎ +7 921 107-4224, +7 411 270-6755, +7 401 256-5502, +7 8 4012 295-7441, fax: +7 (921) 232-9750, e-mail: chancery.kaliningrad@mfa.gov.lv. Mon-Fri, 9AM-6PM.
Sweden Sweden (Swedish visa service provided by the Consulate of Poland), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, ☎ +7 (4012) 976-440, +7 (4012) 218-741 (visa issues), fax: +7 (4012) 976-443, e-mail: consulat@kaliningrad.polemb.net. Mon-Fri, 9AM - 2PM.

 

 

 

 

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