Kaliningrad is a city rich in history, and most of its touristic sights are related to its Prussian past. One of these sights is the Brandenburger Tor, the only one of the seven city gates that are still being used for the intended purpose.
When I visited Kaliningrad in late October 2017, I researched a lot of places that I wanted to see during my days there, like the House of Soviets. One of the areas that I was most excited to see was the Brandenburger Tor. Just because it felt kind of odd to have a city in Russia with a city gate that shared the same name as one of the leading touristic destinations here in Berlin.
I arrived in Kaliningrad on a bus from Gdansk in the middle of the night. The bus station is located in the south part of the city, next to the train station and, when I arrived there, I followed a map I had with me and decided to walk to my hotel. There wasn’t a taxi close by, and my lack of Russian combined with the late arrival just made me lazy to ask around for directions. So, I decided to walk the few kilometers between the bus station and my hotel.
The first sigh I saw on my walk was the impressive looking train station that is decorated with Soviet symbols. A few meters later, there is a statue of Mikhail Kalinin, one of the original Bolsheviks and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The city and the state, or Oblast in Russian, received his name after his death in 1946. But the most exciting sight was just a block away.
I was walking down this dark street somewhere in Russia when I looked to my right side while crossing a street and there was something I recognized. The Brandenburger Tor was there, standing as one of the city gates of Königsberg. I stopped briefly in front of it and took some pictures before I continue my walk to the hotel, excited about everything I would be able to see in Kaliningrad.
The History of the Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad
The Brandenburger Tor was built back in 1657, in the south-western part of Königsberg. The city was strengthening its walls and decided to create a gate on the road that leads to Brandenburg Castle, where it got its name. At first, due to a lack of funds, the gate was made of wood, and it stayed like this for some hundred years.
In order of Frederick II of Prussia, the original structure was torn down and rebuilt as a brick structure. This structure was altered and richly decorated during a restoration work done in 1843. Stylized leaves on the tops, coats of arms and medallions, decorative pediments, and cruciform sandstone color were added. Together with it, sculptures of Field Marshal Hermann von Boyen (1771–1848), who was a war minister and reformer of the Prussian army, and and Lieutenant-General Ernst von Aster (1778–1855), who was chief of the engineering corps and one of the initiators of the second strengthening of the city walls, can be found decorating the Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad.
The Architecture Style of the Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad
When it comes to the architecture style, the Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad looks a little bit out of place. Not just by the fact that there is nothing much happening around it. But because it was built in a Gothic Revival, also known as Neo-Gothic. This is a little odd because this style of architecture was popular a century before it was made.
The Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad vividly expresses its gothic motifs with its leaves, coats of arms and decoration. But, my favorite part of it is the pediments on top of it, shaped like arrows, which give the gate a sense of height.
After my first surprise visit to the Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad, I went back to it a couple of times to take pictures. One of these visits marked the only time I saw tourists in the city besides myself. There I saw two German guys taking photos of the gate, and it felt good to see somebody else exploring this beautiful and exciting city in Russia.
The Brandenburger Tor can be found in the south-western part of old Kaliningrad. It’s located between the South Kaliningrad Train Station and the Friedrichsburg Gate. Take a look at the map above, and you will find it without any problems.
The Brandenburger Tor in Kaliningrad
Ulitsa Bagrationa, 137, Konigsberg,
Kaliningradskaya oblast’, Russia, 236039
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