Falling into the Charms of Kaliningrad

charms of kaliningrad

The breakdown of the Soviet Union has resulted in many newly-formed states that separated from "Mother Russia" and left behind a small province that is now separated from its mother. Kaliningrad Oblast is home to the city of the same name. Kaliningrad is located in Russian Federation’s westernmost part, but it has no land connection to the rest of the country because it is surrounded by Lithuania and Poland.

However, despite the city’s seemingly isolation, getting to Kaliningrad is actually convenient you can get there by plane, either from Moscow, St. Petersburg, or other surrounding cities.  You can also get there by train, from Berlin, Moscow, or St. Petersburg, or any other land transportation. A Russian visa is needed to stay in Kaliningrad, as well as the Schengen visa is you intend to travel to its surrounding countries.

The best way to spend time in Kaliningrad is to experience its charm, much of it lies in its Prussian past life. Although the city was heavily-bombed during World War II, you can still find a few attractive residential neighborhoods with rows of old German houses, the remains of the old wall that once surrounded the city, and a network of centuries-old red-brick gates that provided access through the wall.

Tourism is still being developed in the city, but you can already feel that appeal through its vibrant surroundings and fun-loving people. New infrastructures are being built, such as the rebuilding of the main cathedral as well as establishment of new businesses along the Pregolya River.

However, expect a few hitches such as bad roads and some remains of the Soviet era such as the awful-looking building standing from the ruins of the Kaliningrad Castle. Don’t worry; even the locals call that building as "The Monster."

Other sites that travelers should not miss include the fascinating Amber Museum, which houses some 6000 amber art works, including some out-of-this-world Soviet symbols. It also has copies of sections from the famous amber room, which the Nazis stole wholesale from St. Petersburg in 1941 and brought to the castle.

The World Ocean Museum is another highlight, consisting of a tour inside a B-413 submarine, exploring the seas and space aboard two giant Soviet research ships, and learning oceanography through its aquarium.

The city may not look as "tourist-y" as the rest of Europe, but Kaliningrad is slowly developing itself as Russia’s shining gem.

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