The city is also known under its original German name, Königsberg. Apart from these it used to be (or in some cases still) called: ‘Karaliaucius’ in Lithuanian, and “Krolewiec” in Polish. So it is so-called the ‘City of the Four K’s: Kaliningrad / Königsberg / Krolewiec / Karalaucius ‘.
This area – a former East Prussian province – became a part of Russia in accordance with the laws forced by Potsdam conference in 1945.
Kaliningrad has no common borders with the rest of Russia, it is only 75 miles away from the Lithuanian border, and a mere 30 miles from Poland. Back in Soviet times travelling to Kaliningrad involved no border-crossing, but when the Soviet Union collapsed Kaliningrad suddenly found itself cut off from the rest of the country by the newly independent countries of Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania. A decade later, when Latvia, Lithuania and Poland joined the EU, Kaliningrad residents required visas to travel overland to Russia. This sense of geographical isolation is reflected in common expressions: ahead of trips to Moscow, people will routinely say “I’m going to Russia”. On national TV, Kaliningrad is sometimes left off weather maps.
Walk the bridges – a historically notable problem in mathematics with no solution to be found! The city of Königsberg used to have seven bridges connecting the two large islands – Kneiphof and Lomse – and the banks of the Pregel river. The problem was to invent a walking route crossing each of those bridges exactly once which proved to be impossible and led to important discoveries in mathematical graph theory and prefigured the idea of topology. Today with only five bridges left you can easily solve the problem – try it!
The Königsberg Cathedral
Today it is a multi-purpose cultural hub which includes an academic concert hall equipped by a unique and the largest in Russia pipe-organ complex, the Immanuel Kant Museum museum and an outdoor Park of Statues. Located in the heart of Königsberg on the island of Kneiphof, that was completely destroyed by British aircraft attack back in 1944, the Cathedral has a dramatic history of destruction and revival and is a true symbol of the city, its architectural centerpiece, and the main point of attraction for all the visitors of Kaliningrad.
The Old Fortifications of Kaliningrad consist of numerous defensive walls, forts, bastions and other structures making up the Second Defensive Belt constructed during the period of the Polish-Swedish wars in order to protect the town which found itself in a vulnerable position. The Second Belt was intended to replace the previously existing defensive construction – the First Defensive Belt that had been already more than two centuries old, had a poor condition and was unable to provide any decent protection for the place.