Land of the Teutonic Knights
What was once the land of the Teutonic Knights, today is a part of Russia. But it’s an unusual part of Russia because it lies outside the borders of Russia all together. It’s like this little tail off of the western end of Russia. The countries of Lithuania and Belarus cut it off completely from the rest of mother Russia. It is Russia’s only port on the Baltic sea. This same land was also under the rule of Prussia at one time. It is a land rich in history, intrigue, and beauty.
A city of enigmas and paradoxes
Kaliningrad today was once Königsberg, the capital of Prussia. It has always been a city of enigmas and paradoxes. The story goes that the Teutonic knights originally planned to build the city some 200 km to the east, at the Neman river. The knights observed a solar eclipse during a respite on a mountain where heathens had made a place of worship, The Teutonic Order’s magister considered this phenomenon to be a sign from God, and decided not to disobey it. The mountain later became Königs Berg – Royal Mountain.
In 1255 the main castle of Königsberg was founded on the bank of the Pregel River. A ring of fifteen fortresses (allegedly united by a system of underground tunnels) surrounds the city. Some of these ramparts can still be seen today.
The old Amber Coast
Immanuel Kant a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy was also born in Königsberg.
Nowadays the Kaliningrad region is a key for international trading, because it is the window to Europe and gates to Russia at the same time. The seaport itself has special strategical importance , it has become one of the key elements for development of Kaliningrad. It’s Russia’s furthest most northwest point and it’s a micro-region to the Baltic, part of it’s growth is due to the fact that it is a international deep-sea port with well developed infrastructure.
As of recently it’s become the choice for many of Russia’s wealthiest. Bars, restaurants and hotels are springing up out of the ground and the city now has the second highest concentration of cars in Russia. The old Amber Coast has become Russia’s new place in the sun.
The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. It stretches from the Sambian Peninsula on the south to its northern tip next to a narrow strait, across the port city of Klaipėda on the mainland of Lithuania. The northern 52 km long stretch of the Curonian Spit peninsula belongs to Lithuania, while the rest is part of the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The width of the spit varies from a minimum of 400 m in Russia to a maximum of 3,800 m in Lithuania.
The Curonian Spit is home to the highest drifting sand dunes in Europe. Their average height is 35 meters, but some attain the height of 60 meters. The spit is often visited by migratory waterfowl. Between 10 and 20 million birds fly over the feature during spring and fall migrations, and many pause to rest or breed there.
The spit also has several towns, the largest of which is Nida in Lithuania, which is a popular holiday resort, mostly frequented by Lithuanian and German tourists.
Here’s a short video about the Curonian spit.
The Mysterious Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad
Located at Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea ,lies one of the strangest natural phenomena on Earth.
This unusual pine forest is made of trees of various shapes, most of them twisted in circles and spirals, along the ground.
Several theories have emerged, including one by a psychic who claims that the forest is located on a spot where massive amounts of positive and negative energy collide. Others say the causes are geological, that it must have something to do with the unstable sandy soil, but the most widely accepted idea is that the Dancing Forest was simply blown into these strange shapes by the powerful winds which constantly buffet the area.