Unique Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is a strange place. Separate from the rest of Mother Russia, and with an entirely different history, it has developed its own identity and culture that, although similar to Russia’s, is not the same by any means. Kaliningrad’s history has some fascinating elements: one of the hotbeds for the Teutonic Knights in the Middle Ages, it was invaded by the Russians in World War II and eventually was annexed to Russia as a federal state. It soon became an important region during the Cold War, and Russia’s Baltic fleet has been stationed at Kaliningrad ever since.

Kaliningrad best view

Despite its location, almost all of the locals of Kaliningrad are ethnically Russian – during and after the war, the Russian government expelled and executed the German citizens of Kaliningrad and moved Russian citizens into the area. The language spoken here in Russian, the food is (for the most part) Russian, and the culture is Russian. But everything here has a slight twist – it’s hard to put your finger on it, but Kaliningrad feels like Russia with a lime wedge, or some zest, or just something a little bit extra.

Kaliningrad best places

Like everywhere else in Russia, to get in you’re going to need to fill out a fair amount of paperwork. Once you do get in though, it’s an interesting place. One destination that any tourist should visit is the resort of Svetlogorsk, by the Baltic Sea. This was very popular with German tourists before and during the war, when the region was under German control. It’s a surprisingly pretty place. The Herman Brachert House/Museum is a 15 minute walk away in Otradnoe. The German bronze-sculptor was quite influential, in his time, and his work can be seen all over Svetlogorsk.

Kaliningrad journey

The Kaliningrad region has some interesting and exciting wildlife present; rumours have it there’s still bears in the region so if you decide to go for a walk in the woods, be safe. Or bring a storybook with you so you can do some research whilst you’re there. That’s it! Kaliningrad is like a storybook Russia – the kind you imagine when you’re a child – it’s more Russian in some respects then Russia is, then. Or my imagination is less geared towards picturing Russia; you decide.

trip to Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is the only Russian port in the Baltic that remains unfrozen all year round, and this has encouraged an economic boom in recent years. The boom has further been supported by the amber mines in the region: the area of Kaliningrad produces 90% of the world’s amber supply. The amber mines can be visited (though not officially), but there isn’t a huge amount to see.

things to do in Kaliningrad

Whatever you do in Kaliningrad, you can be sure that although there are English speakers, there will be very, very few tourists. This is solely because nobody – neither the Russians or the tourists – have considered this as a place worth visiting, though it is. Try to view Kaliningrad as a trial run for visiting Russia – if you enjoy Kaliningrad, you’re almost certain to enjoy Russia. Along the same vein, the ports in Kaliningrad have various shipping routes heading into Russia proper, so if you’re hoping to travel that way, it’s well worth having a nosey round the ports and seeing what you can get into – you never know, and it’ll be a damn sight cheaper than the train.