Kaliningrad

Kant Island

  O. Kanta     22 May 2018
Also referred to now as Kant Island (for reasons which will become clear), Kneiphof derives its name from the Old Prussian word for swamp and not without reason – the ground was soft, muddy and troublesome to build on. Nevertheless, it was officially incorporated into Königsberg in 1327 and the construction of Königsberg Cathedral began six years later in 1333, the huge building supported on hundreds of oaken stilts inserted into the ground.

From then on it became a key district of the quickly expanding city, especially in terms of trade and as a connecting administrative hub for all the surrounding areas. It also became the focal point for the city's intelligentsia when, in 1544, the original Albertina University building was inaugurated at the north-eastern corner of the cathedral. Sadly lost in WW2, this was where the renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant worked and taught, and his tomb is situated directly opposite where the building once stood. By the mid-19th century, the rest of the island was densely populated with tall, narrow townhouses (the likes of which may still be seen in other Hanseatic cities such as Stockholm and Gdansk) but, as with the Albertina, these were all but wiped out by Allied air strikes.

Nowadays, following a massive regeneration project by the local authorities, it is one of the must-visit tourist spots in the city, not just for the cathedral but also for the Kant Museum, Kant's Tomb, the Albrecht of Prussia statue, the statue park and, in general, the greenery and views.

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