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    Kaliningrad

Looking at the centre of Kaliningrad, full of dull grey buildings, a rare tourist would not remember angrily the Soviet government and communist party and this would be wrong. It goes without saying that soviet architectural culture could hardly be called elegant, but one must keep in mind what condition the city was in prior to being rebuilt by communists.

Till 1946 Kaliningrad had belonged to Germany and born the name Königsberg. In 1945 the city was bombed and turned into black ash within a few days. Exhausted by the war, the country couldnt build new castles and palaces on the ruins as there existed more important aims and priorities at that time. Kaliningrad is probably the only city in Russia, which has three histories: almost fully demolished Eastern-Rrussic Königsberg, soviet Kaliningrad and the post-soviet history.

Nowadays Kaliningrad appears incredibly dissimilar: gothic style cathedral is neighboring with soviet five-storey houses, old German bastions and soviet monuments, ruins of the buildings destroyed during WW2 and new housing estates. However, despite the considerable lost and devastation during the war, Kaliningrad managed to preserve its distinctive features. Long history of the city can be found in the areas of old Königsberg, with its pure German streets and buildings.

In the very heart of the city there was a whole district called Kneiphof, which was later fully devastated during the bombings except the ruins of the Cathedral, which is now has been almost totally rebuilt. The Cathedral owes its second life to Immanuel Kant, who had lived his whole life in Königsberg and whose grave is situated at the Cathedrals wall. In one of Lenins works Kant was called a forerunner of Marx and Engels, which was a crucial reason for preserving Kant`s grave and the Cathedral by communists. The name of Immanuel Kant has become to some extent kind of Kaliningrads brand. However, not all buildings of old Königsberg were honored with the lucky fate of the Cathedral. One of the 13th century castles was proclaimed fascism memorial and demolished. The castle was replaced with the concrete House of Soviets, which has never been used and is often called monster by the locals.

Dissimilarity of architecture and duality of the city are not the only interesting facts to mention. Kaliningrad Region concentrates up to 90 percent of the worlds amber supplies. According to the wide-spread belief, Kaliningrad was the amber source for the legendary Amber Room of Catherine II, empress of Russia. This room, surely, is only one of the historic, cultural and political myths, surrounding the city. Another remarkable myth narrates about the existence of underground Königsberg, with tunnels, secret paths and forts . This legend originates in Kaliningrad, as its known that there was no such myth about the underground city in old Königsberg.

Many people see the city as a bridge between Russia and Europe, the only Baltic port which doesnt freeze in winter. Its unusual location and distance from the main part of Russia draw dual perspectives for the future development of the city. The young people of the region have more chances to visit Europe than Russia, and according to some independent researches, four out of five youngsters in Kaliningrad have already visited the countries of Western Europe. Now the city combines European and Russian traits in architecture and atmosphere, which every visitor of Kaliningrad can notice easily with the naked eye, but how will the image of modern Königsberg Kaliningrad, lovingly called Kenig amongst the locals, change in the future?



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