When I traveled from Kaliningrad to the regional town of Chernyakhovsk, I did not expect something special. Yes, the guidebooks promised that the German architecture was well preserved in it, since the former Insterburg was not so affected by the hostilities. But on the whole, I thought to see a typical Russian province.
However, Chernyakhovsk immediately greeted me with the restored building of the old railway station. Trains started running from here 140 years ago, and at the best of times they brought Prussians to Berlin in 12 hours.
From the station I jumped into a taxi for 100 (!) Rubles to start exploring the city from the farthest end. And driving along the main street of Lenin, I was again amazed at how clean and well-groomed Chernyakhovsk.
And I kept my way to the kindergarten … I wonder if the little kids of the town realize that their preschool is a real century-old villa of a wealthy landowner Brandes? Despite its venerable age, the building looks solid.
In the neighbors of the kindergarten, there is also a larger castle with a trivial name – Insterburg. Founded by the Teutons and having seen the Swedish queen, it was pretty much scrapped for brick in the USSR.
Only recently, the fortress came under the control of an NGO, which is developing a historical and cultural center in it. They don’t even take money to enter. Enthusiasts!
Then I went to photograph an unusual monument for the USSR. Not only is he paying tribute to those who fell in the imperialist World War I, but he is also German. It is unclear how the Soviet authorities of Chernyakhovsk did not demolish it, they only removed all the plates. And it stands today updated, but not recognizable. Even not all locals know its history.
Old and new
By the way, in that war, the tsarist army owned Insterburg for only a couple of weeks and during this time managed to mess with the local water tower. In the absence of specialists, the warriors decided to start the diesel pump, and it exploded. There were victims. But the water supply has not collapsed and now serves as a beautiful “stand” for antennas.
The Church of St. Bruno is another German heritage, and the Catholics still own it today, not the Russian Orthodox Church. As you can see, the church has been restored almost to a brand new look.
Antiquities: from the weapons of the ancient Prussians to the military equipment of both World Wars, were assembled by a local entrepreneur and arranged an exposition at his own expense. Taking off my hat!
But another businessman of Insterburg in ancient times amassed a good fortune on the sale of postcards with cute views of a provincial town and built an impressive house named after himself – Villa Chibulinski. The Soviet authorities gave all the best to children – for a music school. And again, I note that the old building does not emit ruin at all.
Finally, we go to the largest church in the area. The church of Insterburg. The building is typically owned by the Russian Orthodox Church, as are many former German churches. Although it is worth paying tribute to the restoration, since under the USSR the church was brought to an emergency state.
Despite the provincial nature and remoteness from the promoted Kaliningrad, it is clearly worth the attention of guests of the region. Including as an example of competent management and love for a small homeland.