Kaliningrad (a short train ride from the Polish port of Gdansk and a long one from Moscow) is a small Russian enclave, about half the size of Belgium, wedged next to Poland and separated from the rest of Russian by 490 kilometers (300 miles) of Lithuanian and Belorussian territory. No visa is required for citizens of many countries for train travel. You just need your passport. You can the basic travel document at a railway ticket office.

Known before World War II as Königsberg, Kaliningrad was a German city occupied by Teutonic Knights, Prussian kings and Nazi Germans before it was taken over by Soviet soldiers in 1945 and turned into the Soviet Union's only year-round, ice-free Baltic port. It is named after Mikhail Kalinin, a puppet Soviet ruler who was so loyal to the Communist regime he allowed his own wife to die in a forced-labor camp.

Kaliningrad oblast covers about 15,100 square kilometers, making it slightly larger than Connecticut, and includes the ugly city of Kaliningrad, two seaside resorts, pines forest, farmland, amber quarries and few natural maritime attractions such as the Curonian Spit. It is home to about 1 million people. Kaliningrad city has about 440,000 people. About 80 percent of the population of Kaliningrad is made up of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarussians. The German population is growing. Some ethnic Germans that lived along the Volga and in Central Asia have moved to Kaliningrad. Many people want the old name of Königsberg (Konigsberg) restored. [Pritt J. Vesiland, National Geographic. March 1997]

Kaliningrad Oblast is the most western oblast in Russia. It does not have any land borders with other Russian regions and is sided by two foreign countries: Lithuania to the north and east; Poland to the south. The Baltic Sea lies to th west. Among Kaliningrad’s attractions are: medieval castles, forts, Gothic churches, Lutheran churches, Baltic beaches, the Dancing Forest. amber mines and Soviet highrises sharing narrow cobblestone streets with half-timbered houses with highrisers. Kaliningrad Oblast is a place where you can touch history, smell the sea, and enjoy Russian-German-European cuisine and culture. The region's mild climate is more like Germany than Russia. Winter temperatures seldom drop below -10 degrees C, mostly hovering around zero. Summer is moderate. During July and August the sea temperatures rise 20-22 degrees C. May, September and October are said to be the most beautiful months.

Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is a shallow, brackish, lakelike sea, of strategic importance to the nine nations that surround it. At various times in history it has been called Sweden's lake and Russia's lake, in reference to the great empires that controlled it. Ships using the Baltic ports have to pass through the straits between Denmark and Sweden. The greater Baltic area has a population of more than 90 million and a GDP that is about a third of Japan’s.

Covering 377,000 square kilometers (145,460 square miles), an area of about the size of Montana, the Baltic Sea is shaped, some say like a praying lady. The feet are between Denmark and Germany. Her knees are resting on Poland, and the top part of her legs are supported by the Baltic Republics: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Her hands reach out to Russia and her head and torso are between Finland and Sweden. [Source: "The Baltic: Arena of Power" by Priit Vesiland, National Geographic, May 1989]

The only way out of the Baltic Sea is through a couple straits threading between Sweden and the islands of Denmark. In the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West in the 1950s-1980s this area bristled with observation posts counting coming and going Soviet ships. There was also quite bit of submarine hanky panky going here as well.

The Baltic Sea has a delicate salinity and oxygen supply. The lack of outlets also means that pollution that flows into the Baltic often gets trapped there in the sometimes stagnant body of water. The amount of pollution has decreased dramatically since all the nations around it signed the Helsinki Convention of 1974. The other problem that the Baltic has to contend with is the fact than more than two thirds of the sea freezes over in the winter. Powerful icebreakers are employed to keep the sea lanes open.

Early History of Kaliningrad

The historical name of Kaliningrad was Konigsberg (also spelled Koenigsberg or Königsberg). It was founded by Teutonic Knights in 1255 as a castle by the Master of the Teutonic Order Peppo Osteren von Wertgaint and the Czech King Přemysl II Ottakar on the site of the Prussian fortifications of Tuangste (Twangste) in 1255. Kaliningrad was major trading hub for the Hanseatic League and was the capital of East Prussia and for 700 years. The first Prussian king, Frederick I, was crowned here.

Between 1286 and 1327, three townships were formed around the castle of Konigsberg (Altstadt, Löbenicht and Kneiphof). After the war of 1454-1466, the Teutonic Order moved its capital from Marienburg (now Malbork in Poland) to Konigsberg. In 1525, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Albrecht, transformed the theocratic state into a secular Prussian Duchy, and became a duke himself. Konigsberg became the capital of the new state.

A university, later named in honor of the Duke of Albrecht — Albertina, was opened in the city in 1544. In the 17th century Konigsberg grew into an intellectual center. The playwright Friedrich Schiller and the great 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant made their homes and taught here. Kant lived all his life in Konigsberg. Today the city is home of the International Kant society and a Kant museum. There was even a biweekly Kant newspaper for a while. Other major figures of German culture and science lived and worked in Konigsberg. The German writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was born and studied here.

Konigsberg repeatedly found itself in the middle of European wars: The Seven Years” War, the Napoleonic wars, and the First and Second World Wars. The city also became an intersection of various historical and cultural traditions and a shelter for people of different nationalities. After World War I Königsberg was separated from the rest of Germany by a strip of Polish land. The city was battered by Allied and Soviet bombs during World War II. With the exception of the red brick cathedral almost the entire city was rebuilt after the war.

Later History of — Soviet and Russian — Kaliningrad

Russians had no claim on the city until the Red Army kicked out the Nazis in 1945 and Stalin demanded compensation for Russian losses. As part of the 1945 Potsdam agreement, Kaliningrad was given to Stalin. The Soviet Union tried the their damnest to get ride of a; German influences, going as far as removing the German symbol from the manhole covers, and deported 139,000 Germans. Much of the nice German architecture was replaced with boxy Stalinist buildings. In 1957 hundreds of holes were drilled into the 13th century castle and filled with dynamite and 700 years of history was blown to smithereens and then paved over.

The Germans were replaced with 400,000 Russians and other Slavs and residents of the Soviet Union. In many cases they moved into houses previously occupied by Germans and used the furniture and pots left behind by the Germans. Kaliningrad was a closed city until 1999, serving as the headquarter of the Soviet Baltic fleet. Between 50,000 and 200,000 Soviet soldiers and sailors were stationed in Kaliningrad during the Cold War.

As the Baltic countries became part of NATO and the European Union, Kaliningrad has became both more isolated and more open. In July 2005, Putin attended a ceremony to mark the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad if nothing else to reaffirm Russia’s commitment to hang on to it. It is an important port. In the early 2000s, Poland and Lithuania began demanding that Russians traveling through their territory between Kaliningrad and Russia proper have visas. Russia was not pleased. The Russians have suggested running sealed trains between Kaliningrad and Russia proper or having “special” travel passes. The European Union didn’t like those ideas.

There has been some talk of restoring the old German name and an efforts is being made to salvage what is left of the castle. Germany has held secret talks with Russia over Kaliningrad. One idea that was floated was allowing Germany to become a major economic player in Kaliningrad in exchange for reducing some of Russia's debt to Germany.

Economy of Kaliningrad

The world's largest amber mine, at Yantarny on Kaliningrad's Baltic coast, at one time produced 90 percent of the world's amber. The enclave also is the home of one of the Baltic's largest fishing fleet. Other industries include paper, food processing, shipbuilding and oil production. BMW set up a US$25 million joint-venture plant in Kaliningrad with a capacity to assemble 10,000 cars a year. The annual foreign trade turnover was US$1.5 billion in the mid 2000s..

The Kaliningrad economy has been helped by a permit that has allowed tariff free transport of goods through Lithuania and Belarus to Russia. By 1994, there was a threefold increase in exports, fivefold increase in imports and hundreds of new joint ventures. Planners had hoped to turn Kaliningrad into the Hong Kong of the Baltic Sea and create an economic boom by utilizing it's established transportation network and creating a Free Economic Zone, with duty free-free imports and exports and low taxes, but these efforts largely failed because buying land was prohibited and corruption was rampant.

Many ordinary people have made a living smuggling vodka, cigarettes and gasoline into Poland where the prices of these goods are two or three times higher. Smuggling was worth about US$200 million a year in the 2000s. The most profitable business at that time was synthetic liquor. About 4 million liters of it was produced in the enclave and smuggled out.

Drugs, alcoholism, AIDS, and tuberculosis have been serious problems in Kaliningrad. In the 2000s, heroin was is cheap and injected. Over 5,000 prostitutes worked the streets. The syphilis rate was three times higher than the rest of Russia. The AIDS rate was the highest in the former Soviet Union. Some travelers have been bundled into cars and forced to make cash withdrawals from ATM machines and turn the money over to their kidnappers.

Tourism in Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is a short train ride from the Polish port of Gdansk but a long one from Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is separated from the rest of Russian by 490 kilometers (300 miles) of Lithuanian and Belorussian territory. No visa is required for citizens of many countries for train travel. You just need your passport. You can the basic travel document at a railway ticket office. It is impractical to visit Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia because you need to get a multiple-entry visa and those are expensive. Regional Tourism Information Center of Kaliningrad Oblast: visit-kaliningrad.ru

Many visitors to Kaliningrad are Germans in tour groups and the tourism facilities are generally geared for them. When it opened its borders in 1991, some of the first visitors were "nostalgia tourists" from Germany who came to find their old homes. Some visitors arrive on commuter planes from Copenhagen. Some have been bundled into cars and forced to make cash withdrawals from ATM machines and turn the money over to their kidnappers.

Getting There: Kaliningrad can be reached by plane from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Germany and Scandinavia; By Train: from Berlin, Gdansk, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Lithuania; by bus from Lithuania, Estonia, Warsaw, and Minsk. Kaliningrad is 1,200 kilometers from Moscow and 1,000 kilometers from St. Petersburg. A train ride from Moscow to Kaliningrad takes 20 hours and costs RUB 1,427. A train journey from St. Petersburg takes 27 hours and costs RUB 1,587. Air travel is less than two hours from Moscow o St. Petersburg. If you book your flight early and travel low-cost, a round-trip ticket may cost as little as RUB 4,000. It is possible to drive to Kaliningrad from Russia but you have to pass through other countries. Make sure to obtain a “green card”, showing you have car insurance. Also, anticipate layovers at border checkpoints, as waiting times are unpredictable.

Getting Around in Kaliningrad: Buses are convenient to move around Kaliningrad and the region (bank cards are accepted, a single trip is RUB 24). To view all bus routes, please visit www.go2bus.ru. Buses and commuter trains will also take you to resort areas, such as Svetlogorsk and Zelenogorsk. Buses are good for getting to neighboring towns as well. Train schedule: kppk39.ru or rasp.yandex.ru. Bus schedule: avtovokzal39.ru. Taxis are a bargain in Kaliningrad, as short trips for groups are cheaper than public transportation. A rental car is RUB 700 per day, carsharing is RUB 8 per minute.

Sights in Kaliningrad City

There is little to see in Kaliningrad and the city itself is pretty ugly. Buildings in the medieval old town that survived bombing sorties of World War II were torn by the Soviets in an effort to decimate German culture and were replaced with vast plazas, bleak parks and Stalinesque buildings. Among the few reminders of Old Kaliningrad are the Royal Gates, the old cathedral, and remains of the fortifications of Konigsberg.

Kaliningrad most well-known building, the House of Soviets, was built after the remains of the 13th-century demolished Prussian Royal Castle, that occupied the site, was bulldozed away. Described as "the ugliest building on Russian soil," this cubist concrete monstrosity was never occupied because of flooding and the collapsing tunnels beneath it.

Kant's tomb can be visited in Königsberg Cathedral, a 13th century church which survived the war. Other building worth a look are the old Königsberg stock exchange, which now houses a cultural center and for a while contained a casino. Among the other old German-era buildings are Rossgarten Gate, Wrangel Tower, the city hall (1923) and the Kaliningrad Drama Theater (1927) Königsberg used to be surrounded by a chain of defense structures. Fort 5 (now, the Great Patriotic War Museum) and Fort 11 Dönhoff — with undamaged fortifications, spiral staircases, gates and lif — tare the best preserved of these. Ticket of Fort 11: RUB 250

Kaliningrad Zoo at one time, tourist brochures say, was the best zoo in Europe. In 2016, it marked its 120th anniversary. It has a nice park with old trees and open-air cages. It boasts one of Russia's only giant ant eaters. Ticket price: adult — RUB 300, children's — RUB 100

Friedrichsburg Gate is the only surviving element of the former fortress Friedrichsburg. This neo-Gothic style gate was built in 1852 of baked shaped bricks and consists of a central arched passage. On the sides of the passage are four round towers. The gate is decorated with decorative scalloped parapets and false Gothic windows.

Altes House is located in a German house in the old Hufen neighborhood. The owners recreated the family environment of the merchant Gustav Grossmann. All exhibits, which are authentic and date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were obtained by the owners from attics and flee markets.

Königsberg Cathedral

Königsberg Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Kaliningrad and features two main places of interest. Russia's largest organ and the Immanuel Kant Museum. The philosopher was buried in 1804 in the cathedral mausoleum and, currently, the tomb is open to visitors. The cathedral holds concerts and tours. The area around the cathedral is a nice place for a stroll. You can the Sculpture Park Outdoor Museum and historical photographs of the region displayed on exhibition stands.

Königsberg Cathedral was founded in 1333. Construction was by Bishop Johann Clare, who ordered the building of a bishop's yard surrounded by walls in the eastern part of Kneiphof Island. Later, a covered passageway was connected to the southern part from the yard, as well as a charity shelter.

Initially the Cathedral was intended to be a defense structure, which is evidenced by the fact that the east wall is three meters thick. On top of the wall, it was planned to have a passageway arranged for the defenders, and towers were to be constructed at the corners. The owner of the territory, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Luther von Braunschweig, opposed those plans, that was why the northern and southern walls were half the thickness of the eastern wall.

By 1351, the cathedral was covered by a roof; by decision of the Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode, the reconstruction of the Cathedral started immediately after that, running until 1382. In the middle of the 16th century, the two towers of the cathedral were burned down and were later rebuilt with a noticeable influence of the Renaissance. Since 1558, all the professors of the university located opposite the Cathedral had a right to be buried in the open gallery along the northern wall of the choir. In 1804, Immanuel Kant became the last to be buried near the wall of the Cathedral.

In the early twentieth century the cathedral underwent restoration, which took six years. The frescoes were freed from plaster, and some of the original elements were restored. The cathedral was badly damaged by fires and bombs in 1944, and its floors, towers, and some of the walls were destroyed. The new reconstruction began in 1990 and continues to the present day. Now the premises of the Cathedral house an Orthodox and a Protestant chapel, and the tower of the cathedral has become a museum. It features the exhibitions “Cathedral. Rising from the Ruins,” “History of Kneiphof Island,” and “Immanuel Kant and his City.”

Museums in Kaliningrad

The Amber Museum contains recreations of the Amber Room, Catherine the Great’s amber jewelry boxes, a diorama of the Yntarny quarry and samples of amber including rare blue and white samples and pieces with dinosaur-age insects and animals inside (See Below). Other museums include the Bunker museum, a former Nazi commander post; the History & Art Museum. There is an extensive ethnographic collection at the Amber Hall Variety Theater. Korolevskiye Vorota (the King's Gate, 19th century). The Königsberg fortress-city historic exhibitions at #3 features ship building history exhibitions at historic Fort Friedrichsburg.

Immanuel Kant Museum is housed in Königsberg Cathedral, where the philosopher is buried. The museum's collection includes a variety of exhibits related to the history of Kneipof island, as well as the Kant’s life and scientific and humanistic activities The Wallenrodt Library contains scientific publications and works in different languages. In addition, the museum has a memorial hall, the memorial hall, where the posthumous mask of the philosopher and his sculptural bust are kept.

Bunker Museum is also known as the Museum of the Siege of Kaliningrad. It occupies the bunker that beginning in March 1945, at the tail end of World War II, was the headquarters of German forces defending the city of Konigsberg. This also was where General Otto Lasch, Commandant of the city, signed the treaty of surrender in April. The bunker is seven meters underground and is fully outfitted with life support services. The interior is for the most part as it was during the war, enhanced with dioramas and other materials retelling the story of Red Army over the city and fate of German POWs. One of the exhibits is an armored gate that was used to block the entrance. It is adorned with runic symbols believed to provide magical protection to German officers.

Museum of the World Ocean (on Kaliningrad Embankment) is Russia’s leading naval and oceanographic museum. It carries out scientific and has interesting exhibitions, including a real B-413 submarine that you can go inside, which is moored at the waterfront along with the “Vityaz”, the world's largest research vessel, the “Cosmonaut Victor Patsaev”, the world's only space communications vessel; and the “CPT-129", the only fishing vessel-museum in the country. Ticket price: from RUB 150.

The museum's coastal complex includes: the main building, where the exposition “The World of the Ocean” is presented. Here you can find aquariums with marine fish, shellfish and corals, collections of shells, and geological and paleontological samples. At new building “Planet Ocean” is currently under construction and is expected to be one of the symbols of the city. The exposition building is composed of a ball, symbolizing the cosmos and the planet Earth, being embraced by a giant ocean wave. The facility will more expositions and aquariums, an exploratoium, a cinema, a planetarium, art-laboratories, exhibition grounds, conference halls and other stuff.

Amber Museum

The Amber Museum (in a mid 19th-century fortress tower located in the center of Kaliningrad) contains recreations of the Amber Room, Catherine the Great’s amber jewelry boxes, a diorama of the Yntarny quarry, amber jewels and household items from the Neolithic to current time, and samples of amber including rare blue and white samples and pieces with dinosaur-age insects and animals inside. Inaugurated in 1979, it occupies three floors with a total space of 1,000 square meters. Amber is fossilized resin of ancient conifers that grew more than 40 million years ago.

The museum's collection contains: 1) several thousand articles made of amber, including works of the 17th-18th centuries; 2) the world's second largest piece of amber weighing 4.28 kg; and 3) a collection of inclusions; pieces of amber with frozen insects and plants, several tens of millions of years old.

The the museum is now one of the biggest cultural sites in Kaliningrad. It hosts exhibitions, concerts and lectures. You can also find a market near the tower, where you can buy authentic amber souvenirs. The museum organizes and holds the International Biennial of Amber Art Works, “Alatyr” (an Old Russian name of amber) and the Jewelry Art Contest. Guided tours in English and in Russian are provided with prior arrangements. Audio-guides four languages — Russian, English, German, Polish — are available for rent at the museum's ticket office. There are.

Sights in Kaliningrad Oblast

Kaliningrad Oblast is roughly 163 kilometers (100 miles) long and 80 kilometer (50 miles) wide. It is covered with fertile farmland and forests with large herds of elk. The shoreline is protected by two pine-covered barrier islands— Curonian Spit and Vistula Spit — which in some places are only 350 meters wide.

About half of Kaliningrad's one million people live in the countryside. Svetlogorsk (20 miles northwest of Kaliningrad city) is a pleasant green, coastal town. There is narrow beach hemmed in by hills and wooden houses built for vacationing Soviet workers. Zelenogradsk (20 miles south of Kaliningrad city) is another seaside resort. It attracts large numbers of beachgoers and sunbathers in the summer.

If you are into the past, visit Il'ichevo village (75 kilometers outside of Kaliningrad) and explore the Waldwinkel (Forest Retreat) Old German School Museum arranged in a former German school. The owners reconstructed the interior of a class (you can sit at a school desk and write on a slate) and gathered ample material on repatriates moving to the village after World War II and living next to Germans for a few years.

Vistula Spit is a narrow strip of land with sand dunes created by the wind. Part of it is located in Poland. The Polish part has long been developed while the Russian-Kaliningrad side has long been a restricted area, meaning there is little development here other than a small tourist camp. There is virtually no infrastructure on the spit while the nature remains almost untouched. Visitors can enjoy wide beaches with fine soft sand, the Baltic Sea and the largely freshwater bay of Kaliningrad. There are dunes near the shore, pine forests, and fields full of berries. It is explore building and prisons of a former military base. Drag races are sometimes held on the runway of the abandoned military airfield.

Yantarny Amber Quarry

Yantarny (Amber) Village and Quarry (50 kilometers outside of Kaliningrad city) shows how how amber is produced. The amber for famous the Amber Room and its replica came mostly from the loam in Yantar’nyi Poselok, or Amber Village, near Kaliningrad. The Kaliningrad Amber Combine has a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition room and a viewing platform at the quarry. Kaliningrad Region that holds majority of the global amber reserves. The amber here is from fossilized resin deposited 30 million years ago in a layer of sediment called the Blue Earth, which extends under the Baltic Sea. Ticket price: from RUB 60

Amber was collected along the shores of the Sambian coast during the age of the Teutonic Knights. They succeeded in establishing a monopoly over the amber trade, which carried over to the Prussian state of the House of Hohenzollern. In the 16th century amber collected along the coastline was brought to Palmnicken where it was sorted and then sent to Königsberg for further processing.

After 1811 the amber production was leased. In 1858 the firm Stantien & Becker was founded. Stantien & Becker created the first open pit amber mine in the world, but mined amber mainly with the method of underground mining (pits "Anna" and "Henriette"). Initially the mine produced 50 tons of amber annually, but by 1937 - now a state-owned company (Preußische Bergwerks- und Hütten AG) - it produced 650 tons annually and employed 700 workers.

As part of the Soviet Union, Yantarny produced approximately 600 tons of amber annually through the company Russky Yantar ("Russian Amber"). The refinement of amber was discontinued in 2002 by a directive of the Russian Regulatory Authority for Technology and Environmental Protection. Some years later, a new open pit mine ("Primorskoje") was established in immediate vicinity of the old open pit mine. In 2008 about 500 tons amber was mined at this location.

Curonian Spit: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Curonian Spit is a narrow strip of land between a bay and the sea. The smallest national park in Russia, it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and is the largest sand spit in the world. This barrier island features six hiking routes, viewing platforms and sand dunes. The “Dancing Forest” is made pine trees twisted and tied in knots. It is not quite clear why they look like this. The Fringilla Bird Observatory attracts people checking out migratory birds. Individual travelers and groups arrive by bus, car and bicycle or on foot. The entrance fee RUB 150 per person and RUB 150 per car.

According to UNESCO: “The Curonian Spit is a unique and vulnerable, sandy and wooded cultural landscape on a coastal spit which features small Curonian lagoon settlements. The Spit was formed by the sea, wind and human activity and continues to be shaped by them. Rich with an abundance of unique natural and cultural features, it has retained its social and cultural importance. Local communities adapted to the changes in the natural environment in order to survive. This interaction between humans and nature shaped the Curonian Spit cultural landscape...The Curonian Spit is an outstanding example of a landscape of sand dunes that is under constant threat from natural forces (wind and tide). After disastrous human interventions that menaced its survival, the Spit was reclaimed by massive protection and stabilization works that began in the 19th century and are still continuing to the present day.” [Source: UNESCO]

The history of the Curonian Spit is dramatic: 5,000 years ago, a narrow peninsula (98 kilometers in length and 0.4-3.8 kilometers in width), the Great Dune Ridge separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon, was formed on moraine islands from sand transported by currents, and later covered by forest. After intensive logging in the 17th and 18th centuries, the dunes began moving towards the Curonian Lagoon, burying the oldest settlements. At the turn of the 19th century, it became evident that human habitation would no longer be possible in the area without immediate action. Dune stabilisation work began, and has continued ever since. By the end of the 19th century, a protective dune ridge was formed along the seashore to prevent inland sand migration, and the Great Dune Ridge was reinforced using trees and brushwood hedges. Currently, forests and sands dominate the Curonian Spit. Urbanised areas (eight small settlements) cover just about 6 percent of the land.

“The most valuable elements and qualities of the Curonian Spit cultural landscape are its unique size and general spatial structure, demonstrating the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature; the characteristic panoramas and the silhouette of the Curonian lagoon; cultural elements including the remains of postal tracks, trade villages from the 10th and 11th centuries, traditional fishermen villages and other archaeological heritage covered by sand; the spatial-planned structure and architecture of ancient fishermen villages turned into resort settlements (ancient wooden fishermen houses, professionally designed buildings of the 19th century, including lighthouses, piers, churches, schools, villas); and elements of marine cultural heritage; natural and human-made elements including the distinctive Great Dune Ridge and individual dunes, relics of ancient parabolic dunes; a human-made protective coastal dune ridge; relics of moraine islands, seacoast and littoral forests and littoral capes; ancient forests, mountain pine forests and other unique sand flora and fauna including a bird migration path; and the social-cultural traditions, spirituality, and the social perception of the area, which reflect the local lifestyle formerly centerd on fishermen, artists, scientists, yachtsmen and gliders, travellers and other visitors.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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