The Curonian Spit National Park
The Park is located in the border-straddling part of the Kaliningrad region with Lithuania, on a narrow spit of land between the salty Baltic Sea and the sweet water Curonian Lagoon. The northern borders of the park pass along the Russian-Lithuanian border.
The natural uniqueness of the national park is that it is the largest sand spit in the world. The dune landscapes of the spit are exceptionally beautiful and have an aesthetic impact on humans and represent a unique object for the development of ecological tourism.
The Curonian Spit National Park was created by a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR of November 06, 1987 No.423 on the southern half of the spit, which belongs administratively to Zelenogradsk district of the Kaliningrad region of the RSFSR. It is one of the oldest national parks in the country.
In general the Curonian Spit is a long (98 km) and narrow (0.35 – 3.8 km) sandy peninsula that stretches from south-west to north-east from the city of Zelenogradsk to the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda and separates the Baltic Sea from the freshwater Curonian Lagoon. It is the longest sand spit in the world.
The Curonian spit is a unique, fragile, forested cultural landscape which was formed as a result of the interaction of the sea, wind and human activities and which continues its formation. The spit with its small seaside settlements represents a unique natural heritage, which has social and cultural significance.
The cultural landscape of the Curonian Spit reflects the changes of the natural environment and society. In order to be able to stay on the changing Curonian spit, a human had to act consciously at all times and choose the proper forms of activity.
Nowadays, sands and forests dominate on the Сuronian Spit. Eight small settlements near the Curonian Lagoon (three of them on the Russian side and five on the Lithuanian side) make up only 3% of the entire surface of the Spit.
The most valuable elements and properties of the cultural landscape of the Curonian Spit are
unique size, general spatial structure of the landscape, authentic breath-taking panoramas and the silhouette taken from the Curonian Lagoon, which altogether reflect the harmonious coexistence of man and nature.
The Curonian Spit is a unique example of the harmonious coexistence of nature and man, which is distinguished with an abundance of natural and cultural values. It is a cultural landscape which was formed as a result of the interaction of the sea, wind and human activities. It is the cultural landscape that continues its formation, the irreversible changes of which may represent a threat to its preservation.
The Dancing Forest
The most mysterious sightseeing of the Curonian Spit is The Dancing Forest, which is situated on the 37th kilometer, between the village of Rybachy (formerly Rossitten) and the tourist route “Dune Efa”. The abovementioned forest was planted on the slopes and on the top of the Round Dune (german. Runderberg) in 1961 in order to strengthen its sands. Since the middle of the last century, the forest has grown and turned into one of the most mysterious and inexplicable natural phenomena of our country, whose secret could not be clearly explained until now by the greatest scientists in the world. There are no birds singing here, almost no animals to meet, and the trunks of trees were bent into the most bizarre forms under some unknown force. Many people, who get here, have an unusual feeling. Someone feels an unexplainable burst of energy, someone complains of a headache.
For many years scientists have been trying to find the cause of this natural anomaly. There are several explanations for the phenomenon. Biological causes are the damage to the trunks of young trees by butterfly larvae or exposure to strong winds. Although in this case it is not clear why butterflies and winds affected only one small part of the forest, and the trees in the neighborhood have quite a normal appearance.
Another version supposes in this place the presence of the strongest energy of unknown origin, that makes trees curl and causes the worsening of the well-being of some people and a surge of strength of the others.
One of the most interesting sightseeings of the city is the Water Tower, which is located in the heart of the city. This architectural monument was reconstructed many times during its existence, which, of course, affected its final form. But many tourists come here to see this stone giant with their own eyes.
The monumental building (40 meters high) became a real masterpiece of the provincial city in 1905. During this period the first water pipe was laid in the city to supply the citizens with such a valuable resource as water.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was impossible to imagine a city without a water tower. It was important not only because of its functional and life-sustaining side, but it was also the main city landmark and an excellent watch tower. Due to this reason it was decided to build a similar masterpiece in the territory of the city. The building was designed in an eclectic style, which made it interesting and fascinating.
Only in 2006 a new stage in the history of the Water Tower began. The reconstruction of the sightseeing was accompanied by the complete destruction of the upper element of the structure, which was served as a storage tank. The cupola was seriously bent, there was a threat of collapse, so the building was considered dangerous and life-threatening.
The restoration of the building was at the expense of the owner of this space. Despite the fact that the facade of the tower and the cupola were completely restored, the original stucco decor, which was the hallmark of this building, was lost forever. The white octagonal base has been re-strengthened, that can guarantee a longer life of the Water Tower.
Nowadays, the former storage tank serves as an excellent viewing platform, to which tourists are delivered with a comfortable elevator. It offers extraordinary views of the landscape of the calm Baltic Sea and the surroundings.
Lutheran Church of St. Adalbert
The Church community of Cranz was formed in 1877. The Church of St. Adalbert was laid on the 23th of August 1896 and solemnly consecrated on the 5th of November 1897. The building was designed in the Brick Gothic style, the tower of 42 m high is situated on the north side, the altar is on the south side. To the east of the church the pastor’s house was built. The Church had the organ of Master Terlecki and three bells, which during the First World War were melted for military purposes. After the end of the war, the bells were cast again on donations made by Cranz community and Adolf von Batocki.
During the Second World War, the church was not damaged. In the post-war years, it was used as a gym hall and storage room.
On 23 March 2007 the Government of Kaliningrad Region approved Decree No. 132 according to which the church was designated as a cultural heritage site of regional importance.
Walk on the promenade
The spacious promenade is not just a walking street, but a real cultural center of Zelenogradsk as well. Here rather than elsewhere the representatives of different generations begin to live on the same wavelength, because of the fact that they start understand the culture and values of each other. Here implausible town talks and various incidents reign, that afterwards find their reflection in the local media.
The promenade after the end of the World War II. Initially, it was a wooden promenade with narrow paths and small seaside buildings. Nowadays, there is no trace of the former promenade. Instead of small paths the promenade represents itself as a spacious cobblestone alley fenced with elegant chrome railings, which were placed here for the reason of safety. Along the promenade comfortable double benches are provided, so that the walkers could enjoy an incredibly picturesque view of the sea. At night, the promenade is illuminated by numerous lanterns that create a mysterious and fantastic atmosphere.
The pier, which is located on the Zelenogradsk Promenade, is especially loved by the locals. This construction goes far into the sea. The extreme point of the pier is located 150 meters far from the coast. The pier is a narrow area, which is fixed on concrete columns. There are wooden railings throughout the pier, which prevent people from an occasional falling into the sea. The pier offers an incredibly picturesque view of the green city.
Walking through the local promenade, each tourist should have a look at the pump room, which was named after the prussian queen Louise. Here you can taste mineral water from a healing spring, which is located at a depth of 240 meters. But lovers of gentle and warm sunny rays can go down to the city beach. The promenade is protected from the wind, that allows tourists to enjoy the walk. From here there are numerous stone breakwaters.
The eastern part of the promenade of the city is full of small summer cafes and restaurants, where during the high season it is impossible to find a single free place.
The Zelenogradsk promenade has an amazing energy that makes people dissolve into their feelings and emotions and enjoy these breathtaking views of the Baltic Sea.
The heritage of Prussian architecture
Villa of Max Krell. Die Villa von Max Krell.
Villa of Max Krell was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century in Cranz. It was named after the owner, lawyer and notary Max Krell, who moved to Cranz with his family after the resignation of Mayor of Memel (now the city of Klaipeda, Lithuanian Republic). The villa is built according to the project where the Russian style is combined with the Gothic one. Since October 1947, the building was used as a children’s library, since 2014 the building is used by the local history museum of Zelenogradsk.
The Kurortnyy Prospekt is a pedestrian street in the city. Here you can see the original German buildings.
The Kurhaus Cranz Hotel was built in 1843 and was the main resort hotel. In 2009 the hotel was completely renovated.
Cranz Post Office was built of red brick in neo-gothic style. At the beginning of the 20th century the post, the telegraph and the office apartment of the postmaster were located here.
The building on the Vokzalnaja street. 2 was built in 1885, when the first Koenigsberg-Cranz railway line was inaugurated. The main line was 28.3 km long. Later, two additional lines were opened to Neukuhren and Cranzbeek direction (steamship berth on the canal). The railway was served by locomotives of the I, II, III classes. On Sundays and summer holidays 16 trains operated on the line. On Sundays, the main schedule was strengthened by the introduction of extra non-stop trains.
By now, the building of the railway station has hardly changed. There is no just a railway turntable where the driver turned the locomotive with the help of a hand lever. The turntable was fenced with small columns with an anchor chain and planted with roses.