Theatres and concert halls

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Considered a key symbol of Kaliningrad's cultural life, the organ hall of the Kaliningrad Regional Philharmonic Hall is housed in the building of the former Catholic Church of the Holy Family. The church was built in the early 20th century in the neo-Gothic style by architect Friedrich Heitmann, one of the best known practitioners in East Prussia. Many of his works are now sightseeing sites in Kaliningrad.

The Philharmonic Hall opened in the restored church building in 1980. Two years later, an organ of the Czech company Rieger-Kloss, was installed in the hall to be Kaliningrad's first such instrument. Thanks to special building techniques, the Philharmonic Hall boasts fine acoustics and a church atmosphere untypical of a concert hall. It is a venue for numerous art festivals, such as the Amber Necklace, Bakhosluzheniye, Russian Music in the Baltic.

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Yantar (Amber) Hall Variety Theatre was opened in the resort city of Svetlogorsk in 2015. It is the most up-to-date concert hall in the region. With a capacity of about 2,000 people, it is equipped with top-notch sound and stage machinery.

Yantar Hall is located in a park on the Baltic Sea shore. The complex includes a concert hall, exhibition space of the Museum of the World Ocean, a conference hall and a café. It is a venue for numerous concerts, performances and festivals, including musical festivals of the Club of the Funny and Inventive People, a humor contest club.

The city drama theatre in Sovetsk (the region's second biggest city known as Tilsit before 1946) staged its first performance in 1956. The building which houses the theatre was built in 1893. With three tiers of seating, it can seat 300 spectators. The building has been recently overhauled and now is one of Sovetsk's major sightseeing landmarks.

The small Tilsit Theatre has won popularity thanks to acclaimed stage director Yevgeny Marcelli, who worked in the theatre from 1991 to 2008. The Tilsit Theatre took part in the Golden Mask Festival and other festivals and contests. Today its list of productions has plays for both children and mature audiences. The theatre often invites directors from other countries and regions.

Surrounded by pine-trees, the Makarov Company Organ Hall, one of the smallest and coziest concert halls in the region, is located just a stone's throw from Svetlogorsk Central Square. A hand-made organ was installed in the restored building of the former Catholic chapel Maria the Sea Star. It took the Saarbruecken-based Hugo Mayer Company 14 months to make this organ. Now, the Organ Hall gives afternoon and evening concerts of classical music.

A musical theatre appeared in Kaliningrad in 2001 and initially was housed in the building of the former television centre. In 2012, the theatre moved to the restored building of the Culture and Recreation Center of the Fishing Industry. The theater's founder and director is Honored Art Worker of Russia Valery Lysenko. The Musical Theatre is energetically experimenting with young actors and directors, staging joint projects with theatres from other cities. Its list of productions includes operas, operettas, musicals and stage plays.

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The Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theatre is located in one of the city's most picturesque quarters, not far from the Ploschad Pobedy (Pobedy Square), Russia's oldest football stadium Baltika and the Zoo. The theatre is housed in the building of the Königsberg New Drama Theatre (Luisen Theatre), which was restored and profoundly overhauled after World War II. The theatre opened its first season, in another building however, in 1947 by Konstantin Simonov's play Lad from Our Town.

The theatre's list of productions includes several dozens of plays of various genres. The theatre also offers a variety of productions directed by leading Russian and foreign stage directors and featuring popular actors who come to the city on performing tours, including within the framework of the Baltic Seasons Arts Festivals.

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In 1302, work was completed on a cathedral in Altstadt. However, the new bishop did not think this building was sufficiently magnificent. On September 13, 1333, the Grand Master ordered that a plot be set aside for a new Cathedral in Kneiphof. The smaller cathedral was demolished and the bricks from it were used in the construction of the one we can see today on Kant Island. For material delivery purposes they created the Cathedral Gate (demolished in 1944) to connect Kneiphof to Altstadt via the Cathedral Bridge. This bridge was demolished after work on the cathedral was completed.

The initial construction plan envisaged the new cathedral as a fortress – although Grand Master Luther von Braunschweig had his say in the matter, claiming that it made no sense to build a new fortress an arrow's flight away from the existing castle. So the base was lightened and the walls were made thinner. Over the years the towers have suffered from subsidence; in particular, the North Tower has around a 45 centimetre (1.5 foot) lean, which has earned it the nickname of Baltic Tower of Pisa. The construction of the castle took about 50 years. Nevertheless, even after it was officially completed, the fine-tuning process continued for a few more decades.

The Königsberg Cathedral represents the tradition of Hanseatic (red-brick) Gothic style architecture originating in Germany and Poland and rarely seen in Russia. Churches and castles in this style have no sculptural decoration. Their facades are beautiful but rigid: red-bricks and the art of stonemasonry.

The Cathedral was dedicated to the sacred body of Jesus Christ, to his Blessed Mother, all the saints and Saint Adalbert. Knights prayed in the single-nave section of the church, while the rest of the congregation used the three-nave section.

The last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Albrecht of Brandenburg was fond of the ideas of Martin Luther and the Reformation, which explains how Prussia became the first protestant-dominated state in Europe. In 1523, the first ever Lutheran sermon in German was given in the Königsberg Cathedral. 

In 1544 the Duke founded Albertina University, and the cathedral became the university church. Its South Tower held a library named after its founder Martin von Wallenrod. The library contained not only books, but maps, globes and manuscripts. During World War II the library disappeared; some of the books were burnt, and the rest scattered across the world. There are still 291 volumes from the Wallenrod collection kept at Kaliningrad State University. 

At the end of the 16th century, Albertina University bought a spot near the north wall of the main nave to establish a place for its professors to be buried. One of those tombs eventually saved the Cathedral in 1945.

It was the second half of the 18th century when one of the founders of German philosophy, Immanuel Kant, gave lectures at the Königsberg University. He taught logic, ethics, metaphysics, mathematics, mechanics, natural science and geography. At the same time, Kant wrote several works and essays on his theory of knowledge, ethics, anthropology, religion and political philosophy. Besides his enlightened mind, Kant is also known for his discipline and pedantry: he was literally the man to synchronize your watch with. And he never left his home town of Königsberg. Vladimir Lenin considered Kant a forerunner of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. One of Kant's major works – his Critique of Pure Reason – was compulsory reading in the USSR's higher education system. It was the philosopher's tomb that saved the cathedral from removal by the Soviets. 

During World War II, the cathedral's interior was almost burnt out. From the 1990s to 2005, restorer Igor Odintsov took charge of renovating the cathedral and became its director. There are no services held in the Cathedral now, but you can find a Russian Orthodox and a Lutheran chapel there. The Kant Museum is also housed here with its pre-war model of the city and medieval armour and weapons on show. On Saturdays (at 6 p.m.) the Cathedral is used for organ music recitals. On Sundays, piano and symphony concerts are held here. The Cathedral organ is the largest in Europe.