Kaliningrad, though separated from Russia, is a part of the nation. It is a seaport, the heart of the administration of Kaliningrad Oblast. Founded in 1255, the town was named Königsberg originally (Russian: Kyonisberg). World War II destroyed a large part of Kaliningrad. The Soviet Army occupied its ruins in 1945, and in the following year it was renamed to its present name to honor Mikhail Kalinin. The current population is more than 430,000, almost 80% of it Russian, and the rest Belarusians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Germans, and Poles.
Kaliningrad is teeming with museums, examples of which are the Immanuel Kant museum (Kant resided in the city in his living years) on Kneiphof island; the Amber Museum in the Dohna Tower close to Rossgarten Gate; the Museum of History and Arts; and, the Museum of the World’s Oceans, which is located on Wityaz, a former research vessel afloat on the Pregel river shore, and displays the most innovative sea research technologies and, of course, the diverse flora and fauna of the oceans of the world.
Going around the world and taking a look at churches of different architectural styles is always a wonderful experience, and the city offers the Königsberg Cathedral for exactly that pleasure. There is also the former Catholic Church of the Holy Family, built in 1907, destroyed during World War II, but later on rebuilt, reopened in 1980, and now accommodates the Kaliningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. If you have a love for acting or are fond of watching plays, visit the former Königsberg Theater, whose front entrance colonnade was modeled after Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. The Kaliningrad Puppet Theatre, regionally known and seated in the neo-romantic-styled Queen Louise Remembrance Church, is also a magnificent place to tour.
Other places worth seeing in Kaliningrad are the pre-war city center on the former Königsberg Castle site (it houses the grave of Immanuel Kant); the new city center which surrounds Victory Square where the Cathedral of Christ the Savior stands; Gate of the Friedrichsburg Castle; Brandenburg Gate; King’s Gate; the former Königsberg Stock Exchange; the Cosmonaut monument, which gives honor to Kaliningrad cosmonauts Yuri Romanenko, Alexei Leonov, and Alexander Viktorenko; and, of course, Immanual Kant’s monument.