The museum of the World Ocean

Ruslan Shamukov/TASS

Launched in 1968, the Soviet Submarine B-413 remained in service until 1999, serving first in the Arctic Fleet, then the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy. All its machinery, instruments and weapons are exactly the same as they were when the submarine was relegated to museum status. The B-413 is unique in that it is one of the few pre-nuclear, diesel-powered submarines still extant in the world, and the only one in Russia. The submarine seems too small and congested to accommodate a crew of 80, but it did.

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Another outstanding exhibit at the World Ocean Museum, the Cosmonaut Viktor Patsayev is the world's only space communications ship turned into a museum. Moored by Naberezhnaya Petra Velikogo (Petra Velikogo Embankment) in Kaliningrad since 2001, the Cosmonaut Viktor Patsayev is not entirely a museum – not yet. The ship still continues to support communication with the International Space Station. Your tour guide will tell you more about Kaliningrad's mark on the history of space exploration. It turns out that four Soviet cosmonauts, Aleksey Leonov, Viktor Patsayev, Yuri Romanenko and Alexander Viktorenko, were from Kaliningrad.

The Vityaz Vessel has seen some of the world's most unusual places, e.g. it measured the depth of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world oceans, and changed several names and occupations in its long lifetime. The ship, initially christened the Mars, was built in Germany before the World War II, and was originally intended for freight and passenger carriage. It was converted to military freighting when the war began. The ship was transferred to Great Britain in 1945 (renamed Empire Forth), then to the Soviet Union in 1946, where it was soon reequipped for scientific research. This vessel is among children's favourite exhibits at the World Ocean Museum. They let them ring the ship's bell, and there is even a special button on the museum website that you can push to hear the Vityaz' signature siren.

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Another one-of-a-kind boat, the only trawler-gone-museum in Russia, the SRT-129 hails from Germany, like the Vityaz, except it was commissioned by the Soviet Union, and built by an East German shipyard after WWII. This is the kind of boat they used to trawl for herring in the Baltic Sea, or sail to the Faroe Islands. The exhibits will let you in on the life of fishermen at sea. You will find out what the difference is between a jib sail and a trysail mast.

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The first things to see in the main building of the Museum of the World Ocean are the aquaria. There are 14 of them, both sea and fresh water, about 16,000 litres in total volume, containing over 300 creatures and 133 species from different parts of the world's oceans, including rays, sharks and piranhas. Then there is Russia's biggest sperm-whale skeleton, found on the Vistula Spit in 2004. There is an interactive display for children, Water Lab, where they show various tests and experiments.  

These two museum buildings used to be port warehouses in the mid-19th century. The embossed ornament on the Packgaus facade is the restored Genius by famous German sculptor Stanislaus Kauer, who lived in Königsberg. The wrecked Genius was found amid the ruins of Kauer's house after the war. In addition to temporary shows, the exhibits inside include a 19th-century ship unearthed in the Amber Quarry, and an interactive World Oceans Atlas.

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The historic cobblestone pavement and quayside wall have been restored on the embankment in front of the buildings of the Museum of the World Ocean. The authentic old town feel is completed by the surviving mid-19th-century railway bridge. In all likelihood, Immanuel Kant went strolling here, following the route that came to be known as the Kant Path. The great philosopher is also commemorated by the granite Kant Bench, built recently. His cocked hat and walking cane are on the bench.