The gates of Königsberg

Ancient Königsberg was a fortress city, which could be accessed only through one of the ten city gates. After World War II only seven remained. Now they are heritage sights, offering both tourist attraction and cultural value.

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The Neo-Gothic Brandenburg Gate of Königsberg is the only remaining gate you can walk or drive through. A modern street, Ulitsa Bagrationa (Bagrationa Street), goes through the gate. The only function of the gate nowadays is to let traffic through. The gate is not far from the city's main transport hub, Southern Railway Station. Eponymous with the famous Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, the gate was named after the Teutonic Castle of Brandenburg, the ruins of which still exist in Ushakovo, southwest of Kaliningrad.

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Leaving the Museum of the World Ocean and going down the river, you will reach the crossroads of Ulitsa Bagramyana (Bagramyana Street) and Ulitsa Butkova (Butkova Street) where you can take the No. 4 minibus-taxi. Cross the river on Dvukhyarusny Bridge to get to the left side of the Pregolya River and follow it up Ulitsa Portovaya (Portovaya Street) to the Friedrichsburg Gate. The Friedrichsburg Fortress was constructed in 1657 to control the bay area of the city. There were a number of bastions with jewel-inspired names – Emerald, Ruby, Diamond and Pearl – which were intended to protect the city with their cannons both to the north and south. In 1657, Peter the Great was staying in the city disguised as a sergeant of the Preobrazhensky Regiment by the name of Pyotr Mikhailov. Colonel Sternfeld awarded Peter with a certificate for displaying excellent shooting skills in Friedrichsburg. It was this fortress that inspired him to built Kronstadt.

The future favourite of Russian Empress Anna Ivanovna, Ernst Johann von Biron (1690-1772) spent a short while in Friedrichsburg as a prisoner. In the mid-19th century the Fortress gained a brick gate, and early in the 20th century the earthen dikes and ditches were removed and a railway laid instead. In the 2000s, restorers had to lay new bricks on the Friedrichsburg Gate. Today you can visit the Ship's Revival Historical and Cultural Centre at the Friedrichsburg Gate.
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As we approach Ploschad Marshala Vasilevskogo (Marshala Vasilevskogo Square) we can see the Rossgarten Gate, built along with the other Litovsky Val fortifications in the 1850s. It has a 4-metre (13-foot) wide passage with three casemates on either side of the gate. The main arch is decorated with reliefs of Prussian generals Gerhard von Scharnhorst (1755-1813) and August Neidhardt von Gneisenau. The gate was renovated 40 years ago, and now houses the Solnechny Kamen (Sunstone) Restaurant. It is just a stone's throw from here to the Dohna Tower.
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Built in the 19th century, Sackheim Gate soon lost its defence value, and became simply a decoration - a semblance of an Arch of Triumph - for the city. After the Second World War the gate was put to work as a storehouse, and that it would remain until 2006, when the historical landmark was restored. Sackheim Gate currently serves as a venue for various exhibitions under the Kaliningrad Union of Photographers.

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The King's Gate that houses the Grand Embassy Historical and Cultural Centre was the key symbol of the city's 750th anniversary marked in 2005. By that date, the building had been restored and handed over to the Museum of the World Ocean. Now the museum offers an exposition dedicated to Peter the Great's Grand Embassy. Apart from that, the museum organises exhibitions and other events here. The King's Gate is decorated with restored bas-reliefs of the rulers who played a major role in Königsberg's life: Ottokar II, Duke of Prussia Albrecht and Friedrich I. Do not miss the sculpture of the Prussian Cat, the keeper of the city keys, which is believed to bring good luck.

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The Friedland Gate is a young museum. It was established in 2002. It is housed in a fortification that used to be part of Königsberg's defence ring. The Friedland Gate was built in 1862 presumably based on the design of German architect Friedrich Stuler. The gate's facade is decorated with two sculptures of Teutonic Order rulers. The museum's collection is dedicated to Königsberg's everyday life, mostly of the pre-war period. The Friedland Gate Museum offers a possibility to make a virtual tour along the streets of the East Prussian capital with the help of animated old photographs.