By Davit Yeghiazaryan
Kaliningrad is one of the cities to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, from June 14 to July 15. The NEWS.am Sport reporter will tell the fans where to go and what to do in Kaliningrad.
Our correspondent traveled to Kaliningrad within the framework of Media Expedition project launched by “Rosmolodej” (Russian Youth Movement) which is aimed at showing the football fans the sights and the wonders of the cities hosting the World Cup.
Special security measures have been introduced in Kaliningrad ahead of the World Cup. Seeing our group at the airport, the migration service employees took away our passports, and we were allowed to leave the airport after our personal data was checked.
Before listing the sights of Kaliningrad, we have to point out three main features of this city. Kaliningrad is the only World Cup host city which has no land borders with Russia. The city is located between Poland and Lithuania on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The Kaliningrad region is the westernmost and the smallest region of Russia. Before the Second World War Kaliningrad was a German city and was called Königsberg.
Our trip started from visiting bunker museum which has a historical significance. It was here that on April 9, 1945 an order to surrender the city to the Soviet Union was signed.
The bunker is 42 meters long, 15 meters wide and 7 meters deep. The German generals commanded the defense of Königsberg here during the World War II.
The next stop was the Museum of the World Ocean. Here we entered Vityaz and submarine B-413.
The Vityaz Vessel was built in 1939 and was restored.
The stadium that will host the World Cup matches will accommodate 35 thousand spectators. Four matches of the group round – Croatia vs. Nigeria, Serbia vs. Switzerland (June 22), Spain vs. Morocco (25 June) and England vs. Belgium (June 28) – will be held.
The construction of Kaliningrad Stadium, also called Arena Baltika, started in July 2015 and was completed last November. The Arena has an impressive illumination.
The opening of the Kaliningrad stadium took place on April 11, 2018 when Baltika faced Krylya Soveto, and was attended by 14,926 spectators. Baltika suffered a 0-2 defeat.
The next site we visited was the Cathedral where German philosopher Immanuel Kant was buried.
On our first day in Kaliningrad we visited the lighthouse where a restaurant and a souvenir shop are located.
The next trip was to Curonian Spit, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. The southern portion lies within the Kaliningrad region, the northern part belongs to Lithuania. We also visited Fringilla - bird catching and ringing ornithological station.
The next stop was Müller’s Height – one of the spines of the Bruchberg Dune fortified by the forest as well as the Efa Height.
We visited the Dancing Forest – a pine forest on the Curonian Spit, and one of the beaches on the coast of the Baltic Sea.
The next stop was the amber museum which is located in a tower built in 1853. The museum was opened in 1979. It is located near the town of Yantarnoye – the largest deposit of amber in the world.
Our final meeting was with five-times Olympic champion and nineteen-times world champion in synchronized swimming Natalia Ishchenko who is World Cup’s ambassador in Kaliningrad. One of the organizers of the meeting was the president of the Youth Center of the Kaliningrad region Suren Manukyan, who is also the leader of a local group of volunteers.
All participants were impressed by the beauty of Kaliningrad. I was very much impressed by Kaliningrad and promised myself to come back to this city.