German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

If, almost a year after the borders were closed, you are suddenly overcome by longing for Europe, urgently take a ticket to Kaliningrad. On the territory of the former East Prussia, the ruins of ancient castles, the ruins of Protestant churches, the remains of aristocratic estates and other monuments of the imperial period have been preserved.

You can fly from Moscow to Kaliningrad on a budget; the price of a round-trip ticket from Moscow starts from 4,000 rubles. A trip on weekends or holidays will cost a little more, but the Kaliningrad region is definitely worth it to explore it at least briefly.

Such a trip will be a kind of cultural and historical stalking through the westernmost region of Russia, will allow you to feel the European atmosphere and brighten up the anticipation of long trips.

What to watch

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

The region seems quite small, but there are more than a hundred historical and architectural monuments in ruins there. And although the railway connection is very well developed in the Kaliningrad exclave, I still recommend renting a car for ease of movement. You can do this right at the airport upon arrival. Renting a car for 3 days on OneTwoTrip will cost about 7,000 rubles. There are no problems with gas stations in the region, the roads are good.

Imperial bridges, hunting lodges and the hundred-year-old road in Rominten Forest

A 2.5 hour drive from Kaliningrad, on the border with Lithuania and Poland, there is a forest area whose historical name is Romintenskaya Pushcha. In 2012, the Vishtynetsky Park nature reserve was opened here, named after the local lake nearby. The lake itself is an attraction: it is considered glacial, that is, older than the Baltic Sea: 20 thousand years versus 10 thousand. Many tourists come here as savages and live in tents. There are recreation centers nearby for more cultural stops. But on the Lithuanian side, entire spa resorts and boarding houses have been built.

The calm, peaceful forest was once the hunting patrimony of the German emperors: there they placed  They built their forest houses and memorial stones for convenience, built roads, and erected stone and wooden bridges. All their heritage can, if desired, be found in the thickets of the modern reserve. For the really lazy, there are signs and information boards with historical information everywhere.

If you enter the natural park from the city of Nesterov and the village of Kalinino, the first place you will come to is a cobblestone road, which is just under 120 years old. Surprisingly, the forest road looks much better than the modern paving stones on the pedestrian streets of some large Russian cities. 

Large stone crossings across the Krasnaya River are the same age as the road. The most famous and first erected concrete forest bridge is Oleniy (54.3637380268793, 22.5439563940192). It was designed and built by the Windschild and Langelott company from the city of Insterburg (modern Chernyakhovsk) in 1905. At the beginning of the last century, the bridge was decorated with four bronze figures of deer, exact copies of those that Emperor William II personally shot while hunting. But after World War II, the deer disappeared. The bridge itself is in place, quite suitable for travel and very photogenic.

Haiden’s Bridge (54.36964393512553, 22.52455974592605 ) – a 25-meter three-part concrete bridge, named after the Prussian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from 1890-1894, Wilhelm Hayden-Kadow. Since 1892, the bridge was wooden, and was called the Kaiser Bridge, but in 1905 the log bridge was dismantled and a concrete bridge was erected in its place, which still stands.  New Bridge  (54.385087783632585, 22.51389948264333), also built in 1905, – a copy of the above, but a few meters shorter, and, in my opinion, it is located in a more picturesque location. All these forest bridges seem straight out of the pages of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Nearby, in the village of Tokarevka, you can see the five-arch railway bridge (54.41704679232815, 22.39740685911186). It was built in 1900-1901 during the construction of the Gołdap-Stallupenen railway over the Krasnaya River. And you can also stop by   ancient village Grosse Rominten (modern Krasnolesie), where time seems to have stopped at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries – an ancient church, cobbled streets, German houses with tiled roofs.

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

Five-arch railway bridge

There are many tourist centers in the area where you can spend the night, so there is no need to rush through the park. But it’s better to have your ID with you, because the borders with Poland and Lithuania are literally just a few meters away.

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

The village of Grosse Rominten
Photo by: SeagullNady/

Ruins of fortresses, castles and churches

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

During the heyday of knightly orders, in the 13th-14th centuries, on the territory of the modern Kaliningrad region, the Teutons built several dozen castles. They mainly served as defensive points and were not particularly beautiful. Later, some of them, which survived the Dark Middle Ages, were rebuilt and turned into residences, estates, churches, museums… Unfortunately, not all eventually survived to this day, but the ruins of some are quite picturesque and worthy of a visit.

An hour and a half from Kaliningrad, on the coast of the bay of the same name, the ruins of the first large fortress have been preserved – Balga Castle (54.55242713767987 , 19.969200426996206). It was once an impressive defensive structure, consisting of a high castle-convention and massive walls of the forburg. But today only a few fragments of rough stone walls and parts of later buildings on the site remain. On the side opposite the bay you can appreciate the moat that surrounded the castle, and from the north-west there is a good staircase directly to the sea. The road to the ruins, almost as destroyed as the castle, however, can be navigated even by a sedan. The guard, who at times appears at the ruins like a ghost, is friendly and calmly allows tourists to take photos.

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

Balga Castle

Approximately an hour’s drive from the castle, in the village of Novo-Moskovskoye, there are another interesting ruins – Pershken Church (54.57141841418944, 20.23525676259706). It was built in the 13th century and is therefore considered the oldest in the Kaliningrad region. It’s easier to get to it than to the castle, because it stands right in the middle of the village and is not guarded.

If you are already in the southwestern part of the region, then stop by to look at the ruins of the water mill Tsintena in the village of Kornevo (54.45067350906072, 20.293958590081463). It was built at the beginning of the 15th century and faithfully served the surrounding settlements until the middle of the last century. During its life, it has gone from a simple little thing powered by water to a full-fledged industrial enterprise, electrified and operating with the latest technology of its time. The mill was rebuilt several times, modernized, even survived the Second World War and… was almost completely destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 21st century.

All these points can be seen without haste in one day if you stay within Kaliningrad or even in one of the resort towns on the coast, for example, in Svetlogorsk or the village of Pionersky.

And if you suddenly feel sad that such majestic monuments stand in desolation and oblivion, you can go to the city of Chernyakhovsk and visit the ruins of Insterburg Castle (54.64018199413925, 21.80619358117705). It was founded in the 14th century and little has survived from it either: fragments of the citadel, a dungeon. But on the territory, at least the work of enthusiasts and sincere patriots of their small homeland is noticeable, who, on their own, are trying to preserve the historical heritage for the future: at their own expense, they restore the premises, look after the territory, attract tourists and conduct excursions.

German “abandoned buildings” of the Kaliningrad region

Instenburg Castle

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top