Once called Königsberg, it was the capital of East Prussia, the prosperous and orderly background of the monotonous life of Immanuel Kant.
The philosopher didn’t loved to travel and never left Königsberg, if not for a carriage ride with back in the day. In return for the dead has made a series of trips while remaining firm in the tomb of the cathedral, the Königsberg Sun, where he is buried, because the boundaries have shifted and people around him. In the Second World War the city was conquered by the Red Armyand and incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1946 Stalin gave it the name of Kaliningrad (in honor of Mikhail Kalinin, the head of the Bolshevik and Soviet state, who died that year), forced the Germans to leave the city and replace them with Russian people. In 1991, with the end of the USSR,
Kaliningrad found itself separated from Russia and has begun to open to visits by foreigners, German refugees and their children. Since 2004 – the bicentenary of the death of Kant and the entry of Poland and Lithuania in European Union – the city is even more isolated and Kaliningrad people have to get a flight or a visa, in order to go home. So a certain discontent meandering.
A group of tourists visiting the town: “I come from a town near Frankfurt – tells one of them – and I arrived by bus. We are a group of people whose family is originally from these areas. Before the war it was on German soil. “
Kaliningrad history and its image, with a lot of historical and political strong shocks, is a very strange frame for Kant, a man troubled by the slightest change in his life.
But there is a sort of revenge of the old town Königsberg, the Eighteen’s and the eternal thinking of the philosofer.
The cathedral is one of the few buildings left standing – more or less – after the British bombardment. With the support of the Germans, was rebuilt after years of ruin and abandonment. Right here, in the ancient cathedral situated in a little island in centre of old town, Kant tomb lies, with a solemn mausoleum.
Here it seems that the time stops, and all the trouble were not able to destroy the peace of Kant rest.
Do not miss a souvenir photo in front of the tomb of Kant.
The philosopher got up every morning at five o’clock, ate lunch and went out only at five o’clock in the evening for the walk, so punctual that people regulated their watches. Dined in the company, but walking by himself – and here begins the hypochondriacal neurosis. He did it not to meditate in peace, but to breathe through the nose, that could not have done in company. He opened his mouth only to recommended to his friends constantly: “Balance and persevering in this exercise ensures a long immunity from colds, aches, catarrh and lung disorders.” He had a system of rods to hold up stockings without using – like his contemporaries – the garters that were blocking circulation. At ten o’clock he went to sleep in a room completely dark: a moonbeam could disturb the rest.
At the entrance of the cathedral there is a picture of Putin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as a sign of peace. Many works have been made recovery of the German for the 750° anniversary of the city founding (1255-2005). But the church has returned only a small part to be a place of worship. The main space is now a major concert hall. On the sides, two chapels on the left the Russian Orthodox Church, the German right-Protestant. On the upper floors is a map of the city in 1613, a model of the church, some pictures of how it appeared after the destruction of the remains: brick, decorative … Then portraits of Kant, newspapers announcing his death, a small statue that shows him thoughtfully for a walk, a cast of his skull resting on the pillow plaster mortuary. The fleshless face is not only for age, he was probably sick of Alzheimer. A good tradeoff for who, like him, has made control and iron discipline a leitmotiv of his life.
The cathedral and the tomb is located on the island of Kneiphof, renamed “Kant island”. One of the access roads is a bridge builtfrom scratch on the Teutonic model, and full of padlocks and the names of lovers.
Kant liked to surround himself with young, but would be horrified, it was confidential and never married because of, as many people say, the delicate but unwieldy figure of his mother, a Protestant Pietist who died young after having engaged in long hours of prayer.
What about Kaliningrad itself?
Kaliningrad is a city alive with big ambitions. The locals compared it to America, Australia or Singapore. It is a melting pot of nationalities and cultures, with its ice-free Arctic port, and it’s a big problem from the political point of view.
In terms of attractions, Kaliningrad certainly does not lack anything, but a part of its charm lies in its very blatant contradictions. The big wreck of House of Soviet, built on the original territory of Königsberg Castle and shade of an old German house in ruins, is a few hundred yards from the Fishermen’s Village, an evocation of the ancient city of Königsberg unfaithful. Not far from Piazza della Vittoria, the former Gestapo headquarters now houses the notorious FSB (Federal’naja Rossijskoj Federacciai information from Interpol, the Russian secret service).
Kaliningrad is a confused mix of old, new, rebuilt and imagined: statues of Karl Marx, fountains, old and tough off-road vehicle with tinted windows. For the past Kaliningrad is turning into a business in which to invest, thus pleasing hundreds of local interestand nostalgic Germans who come here every year to spend their holidays.
Kaliningrad is changing rapidly. The change is gaining impulse, although the benefit of a select group of international investors, the only witnesses of the new dynamism of the city.
Walking along the romantic river, between the ancient cathedral and the orrible House of the Soviets, I breathed air typical of places where it really made the history.