The historical name of the town of Königsberg was given in honor of Czech King Ottokar II who took part in the “Northern” Crusade organized by the Teutonic Knights against Prussia. The town was founded by the Teutonic Order in 1255. Lipnik and Knipawa were two settlements that were formed around the town and soon thereafter they received town charters. In the period from 1466 to 1657 Königsberg with the whole Duchy of Prussia were formal fief of the Crown of Poland.

In 1701, the Elector of Brandenburg was crowned the King of Prussia as Frederic I. After the coronation, the territory which up until then had been under the rule of Brandenburg Electors became part of the Duchy of Prussia. The coronation took place in Königsberg, but Berlin remained the capital city of Prussia.  

On June 3, 1724, Frederic Wilhelm I issued a document which unified Altstadt, Kneiphof, and Löbenicht, along with the settlements exempted from paying fees or duties (the so-called wolnizny in Polish) into one city of Königsberg, the official name of which from then on was Royal-Prussian Capital and Residence City of Königsberg.

The city flourished between the 16th and 17th century when it was the capital of the Duchy of Prussia as well as at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of the Industrial Revolution during which Königsberg was the capital of the Province of East Prussia, which fact enhanced its growth. The city was famous for the University of Königsberg, which was established in the 16th century and was in operation until 1945. It was commonly known as the Albertina.

In 1871 the city was incorporated into the newly founded German Empire. In 1933, one of the first Nazi death camps was formed in Quednau (a district of Königsberg).

At the turn of 1944 and 1945 the city center was bombed by Western Allies, and then destroyed as a consequence of a long-term siege by the Red Army. In 1946 it was renamed Kaliningrad to honor Mikhail Kalinin, president of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, who died that same year. In 1939 Königsberg had 360,000 residents. Today, Kaliningrad is inhabited by 431,500 people (2010 Census).[1.1].

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] For more information see: H.M. Muhlpfordt, Königsberg von A-Z, München 1972; Królewiec a Polska, ed. M. Biskup, W. Wrzesiński, Olsztyn 1993.