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nds:Keunigsbarg Kaliningrad (Калининград) is the capital and main city of the Kaliningrad Oblast, a small Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania with access to the Baltic Sea. As Königsberg (Polish Królewiec, Lithuanian Karaliaucius) it was the capital of the German province of East Prussia and the earlier Ducal Prussia.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Sightseeing
3 Famous people from Königsberg/Kaliningrad
4 External links


Königsberg ("king's mountain") was founded in 1255 by the Bohemian King Ottokar II that come to help Teutonic Knights during their conquest of Prussia in the adventure called Northern Crusade. This event started the Germanisation of the region, previously inhabited by the Prussians, a Baltic people.

Königsberg was the see of Sambia, (Samland), one of the four dioceses into which Prussia had been divided in 1243 by papal legate William of Modena. Saint Adalbert of Prague became the main patron saint of the Königsberger Dom (cathedral). Königsberg became member of Hanza and important port for Province of Prussia and Lithuania.

During the war of Prussian Confederation allied with Poland, Königsberg also rebelled against the Teutonic knights. However, the rebellion was defeated and eventually, when the former capital Marienburg (Malbork) was lost to Poland, Königsberg was from 1457 the capital city of the Teutonic Order state, reduced by the 1466 Second Treaty of Thorn to area of later Ducal Prussia, under the overlordship of the Polish crown.

With the secularisation of the Order's territories (1525, the first Hohenzollern ruler committed Prussian Tribut to Polish king and received Ducal Prussia with capital in Königsberg as a fief.

Königsberg became one of the biggest cities and ports of Province of Prussia, which was one of the members of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the considerable autonomy and separate parliament and currency.

The Ducal Prussia were since 1618 in a personal union with Brandenburg under the latter's Hohenzollern rulers. In 1660 Hohenzollerns were released from the overlordship of Polish crown, with the exception of dynasty extinction, when it was supposed to return to Poland. By the act of coronation 1701 in Königsberg, Hohenzollern became kings of Prussia, finally independent from Poland and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. After dissolving of the empire, Königsberg was then capital of the Province of Prussia, outside the formal borders of German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) of 1815-66, until the German unification, when it was incorporated to the German Empire (1871).

With the founding of the university, Königsberg became a centre of learning. One of its noted sons was the leading mathematician and astronomer Johann Müller Regiomontanus (1436-76), naming himself after the Latin form of the city's name. It was also the birthplace (1690) of the famous mathematician Christian Goldbach and the home of the philosopher Immanuel Kant. In 1736, the mathematician Leonhard Euler used the arrangement of bridges and islands at Königsberg as the basis for the Seven Bridges of Königsberg Problem which led to the mathematical branch of topology.

On January 31, 1773 King Friedrich II announced that the old Prussia were to be known as East Prussia, which after the first world war became a German exclave.

Since 1933 East Prussia was ruled by Erich Koch, after the reannexion of the Polish corridor in 1939 again with land connection to the rest of Germany.

At the end of World War II in 1945, the city was annexed by the Soviet Union and it was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946 after the death of Soviet President Mikhail Kalinin. The city had been heavily bombarded by the British Royal Air Force in summer 1944. Some of the German population had fled the advancing Red Army in early 1945, and a few returned after the city was surrendered on April 9, 1945. However, all ethnic German residents who remained at the end of the war - estimated at about 200,000, out of the city's prewar population of 316,000 - were brutally expelled by the Soviets in 1945-49. Many died of hunger during the war's closing stages or the shortages which followed, or during the arduous expulsion process.

During the Cold War Kaliningrad -- with the northern third of the former East Prussia, now the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Soviet Federated Soviet Republic -- was an important naval base and closed to visitors. As a result of independence for Lithuania and Belorussia in the early 1990s, the territory became a Russian exclave, separated from the rest of Russia, ironically just as East Prussia had been separated from the rest of Germany in 1919-39. When Poland and Lithuania become members of the European Union in 2004, the region will be completely surrounded by the EU. In all likelihood, this will require some special arrangements for the territory's inhabitants.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union it has been discussed to give the city its old German name back, as it happened in St. Petersburg.


Famous people from Königsberg/Kaliningrad

External links