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Russia 2018: focus on Kaliningrad Published on 18/04/2017

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Kaliningrad is a Russian city located in a territorial slave, the Kaliningrad Oblast, completely isolated from the rest Russian territory, between Poland and Lithuania.



The city called Kaliningrad today is nothing else but a German town originally named Königsberg, a member of the Hanseatic League, and famous for its university, cathedral, and for being the birthplace of the philosopher Immanuel Kant. During the WWII, the place was attacked by the British who threw bombs on most important and beautiful parts of the town, leaving very little of the original Königsberg stadt by the end of the war. After the war, the place became a part of the Soviet Union, which was followed by the change of its name. Russian-speaking population started settling here, whereas Germans were leaving for good. In the Soviet times, Kaliningrad region was neighbour to the former Soviet republic of Lithuania, whereas today Lithuania being an independent country, the Kaliningrad region is a Russian enclave on the Baltic shores separated from the rest of the country.



As you walk along the streets and canals of Kaliningrad, you might be amazed at how eclectic and mixed things are: you can find a gray square soviet-style apartment block right next to some 18-th century cathedral, or some ultra-modern office building at a stone’s throw from a medieval tower or fort. Forts and towers definitely make the pride of Kaliningrad, as about a dozen of them survived until the present day, reminding us of a fortress wall that used to surround the town of Königsberg. Looking at its architecture, reading those German street names mixed with Russian ones, you can travel in time and space before you even make a step.



As for travelling, Kaliningrad is 2-hour flight away from Moscow and you can get there from any of the three Moscow international airports. Between 6 and 10 flights per day by different airlines connect Moscow with the city, and the airport also receives planes from St Petersburg and Minsk. Though flying to and from Kaliningrad can be tricky as the proximity of the Baltic sea sometimes brings surprises, such as bad weather and fog. On my way back to Moscow, I arrived at the Kaliningrad airport just to find out my Friday night’s flight was cancelled, just like five others on that night, and no plane would leave the airport until Saturday morning. The airlines and airport deserve respect for their teamwork in such situations, as they were fast and reactive in organizing transportation, food, and accommodation for all the passengers from delayed flights.

Moving around in Kaliningrad is probably among the easiest experiences compared to many Russian regions, as all public transport here is always on time, distances are not too big, and the quality of roads is better compared to an average Russian town.

At the same time, an average Kaliningrad family seems to have between one and two cars, so with the population of over 400 000 people this makes a lot of cars for narrow downtown streets. This obviously causes traffic jams during the rush hour which are to be taken in consideration. However, during the FIFA World Cup 2018 the regional government foresees clearing the roads and limiting the traffic in order to let the FIFA shuttle buses cross the town smoothly to the Kaliningrad Stadium.



Just like in many other places in the post-soviet zone, Kaliningrad hotels are a mix of the socialist heritage and the modern design.

A number of hotels that Kaliningrad offers occupy buildings that were originally schools, governmental offices, stock exchanges, etc., dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

On the other hand, major international chains gradually penetrate the city with their modern-looking 3* and 4* properties right in the centre, although the most charming hotels are obviously those that have this spirit of the old Königsberg. Most of them tend to be situated in the very heart of Kaliningrad, the recently restored so-called “Fishermen’s Village” neighbourhood that locals cherish and love dearly.

As a result, many accommodation solutions matching expectations and tastes will be available for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.

 Olga, VPI representative in Russia.


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