Imagine a city, which is geographically isolated from its country by foreign states. Kaliningrad is one of them. It’s a Russian city, located on the east coast of the Baltic sea and enclosed by members of both the EU and NATO – Lithuania and Poland in the center of the Europe.
It makes its population of Kaliningrad isolated from other territories of Russia. So, residents of Kaliningrad need to apply for foreign passports and visas in order to travel by land to visit their Saint Petersburg relatives.
This city has a history where word “former” was used too often. It was a former Soviet Union city, a former Nazi German city, a part of the Weimar republic, part of the German Empire, a former capital of the East Prussian Kingdom, a Prussian Duchy, and home to the Teutonic Knights Order state.
Originally, the territory was inhabited by both Prussian and Goth tribes. Pagan tribes were Christianized after a series of campaigns initiated by Roman Catholic crusaders led by Teutonic knights. The invasion lasted more than 50 years. Native tribes fought hard. The surviving Prussian independent population from the Prussian Crusade was gradually Germanized. The Teutonic Order ruled Prussia as a monastic state with the head being the Grand Master.
Colonists from all over the former Roman Empire immigrated to the new state. There were mostly Germans, Dutch, Poles and Flemish. A strong, urban country was built. One of the largest cities had the name Konigsberg. It was set up in 1255.
After World War II, the city was allocated at the Potsdam Conference from Germany to Soviet Union. All the German population was evacuated from the territory and resettled back to Germany. The region was colonized by inhabitants from various Soviet Union republics.
Now, Kaliningrad has become the central city within the Kaliningrad region. It’s an ice-free port, the only Russian port located on the Baltic Sea. The name Kaliningrad was given from Mikhail Kalinin, former Soviet Chairman of the All-Union Executive Committee, former chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and member of the Politburo. In 1946 he died. Following his death, the former German city was renamed in his honor.
The changeable history of the city influenced it’s architecture. Visitors can see a unique combination of architectural styles in the city. Here, you can see a medieval gothic cathedral neighboring Soviet betony buildings. Fundamental Nazi Reich architecture can be found near an Orthodox cathedral in Byzantium style on a French-influenced Square. Metal-and-glass constructions try to compete with German neoclassical buildings from end of the 19th -beginning of 20th centuries.
The population of Kaliningrad was formed from colonists from all over the Soviet Union Republics, mostly Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Lithuanians. The government invited the population to the empty and destroyed city after World War II. Many benefits, including free land were promised to the new inhabitants.