History of the neighborhood
of the defensive barracks «Kronprinz» in Kaliningrad
The area which borders are defined today by 9 Aprelya, Frunze and Litovsky val streets has never been a most respectable or popular area in the cirty. In pre-WWII Königsberg it belonged to two districts — Rossgarten and Neue Sorge. The verdict given to this part of the city by the famous geographer Anton Friedrich Büsching in the mid 18th century, predetermined prospects for the development of area: «there is nothing special in Rossgarten here apart from a church, and some nice buildings can be found in Neue Sorge». Actually, the quarter continued developing in this manner later: respectable residential buildings of Königstrasse (today Frunze Street) attracted a part of the city elites (first of all university professors, lecturers of the Art Academy which was situated nearby, as well as high rank officers), while social composition of the population of Rossgarten was much more modest.

The Altrossgarten Church, around which the everyday life of neighborhood was structured starting from late 17th century, had been the only landmark in this area before «Kronrpinz» barracks were constructed. In 1843 the area obtained the second significant site, «Kronrpinz» barracks, which, however, lost their defensive role later. As part of the Königsberg city center the area suffered from significant damages caused by the air raids of the British air forces in August 1944. After the second World War the church was ruined (by the 1970s the ruins were eradicated) and for several decades the quarter was an insignificant area, where ruins coexisted with unpretentious buildings. Erection of a secondary school in 1970 slightly transformed landscape in this district (together with a neighboring building of the Institute for teachers' professional development the school forms a kind of an «educational cluster», which has been preserved till now).

Active urban development (including the post-Soviet period) did not bring significant changes for the reputation of the area. There are no public transportation routes inside the district (it's only along its external streets, which define the borders of the district, that the public transportation runs). Likewise, there are no well-maintained open public spaces here. While some of public institutions/spaces, like the church, several schools and cultural institutions along Königstrasse operated in the area in pre-war times, their number decreased in the Soviet times and, again, they were primarily located along external borders of the district, such as Frunze and Litovsky val streets. Frunze street (formerly Königstrasse) became more modest, but preserved its status of an «administrative avenue».

The situation did not change after 1991. Today, in this semi-peripheral micro-district you will find neither a WWII monument, nor an Orthodox church. Specific memorial landscape of the area distinguishes it from other areas of the city, usually known for eclectic combination of remnants of German architecture and other elements of urban environment, memorial sites of the Second World War, fragments of socialist construction and Orthodox sites intended to highlight Russian national roots of the majority population. Against the background of other microdistricts of the city, the «Kronrpinz» barracks' quarter appears to be an unusual fragment of urban development, a kind of tabula rasa – a symbol of the permanent unsettledness of the ruined city.

Important for the whole city public institutions located in the area belong to science and education sector: here you will find the above mentioned secondary school, institute for teachers' professional development, buildings of the Institute of Oceanography and I. Kant Baltic Federal University, the latter two, however, being on the verge of the district. The potential of «Kronrpinz» barracks as of public space is not realized, and no other public spaces have emerged yet. Some of the unique historical heritage sites (Goethe Oberlyzeum and Kreuz Apotheke), that could have been used for the development of public spaces, as a matter of fact, were lost during the early 21st century.

The activities of the Baltic Branch of the National Сenter for Contemporary arts can help revitalizing the area, based on both current trends in urbanism and contemporary arts and historical experience of the area. So far, the attempts to improve the area have been of sporadic nature.

The development potential of the territory is also largely determined by the fact that no serious industrial production was deployed here (only the Gebauhr piano factory was set up here in the 19th century; and during the Soviet times only consumer services enterprises were located here). Together with unique natural and cultural landscape of Litovsky val streetteh area provides favorable conditions for developing urban environment matching modern aesthetic and ecological standards. This mode of development would pay tribute to pre-WWII townspeople, who created a nice living environment, and Soviet citizens who made their important contribution to reconstruction of the city after the war and development of the new socialist city.

The study shows that important cultural heritage sites have been located on the territory of the district. Besides, the area was connected to the life of various historical personalities, who still need to be commemorated. Apart from the writer S.A. Snegov, who resided in one of the apartment blocks within the boundaries of the district, it makes sense to mention such figures as writer M. Bernhard, pastor G. Weissel, orientalist R.Garbe, piano master K.J. Gebauhr, professor J.F. Herbart, famous artist K. Kollwitz, influential philologist Ch. Lobeck, artist K.L. Rosenfelder, sculptor J.F. Reusch, historian J. Voigt, outstanding mathematician W.F. Fuhrmann and artist J. Heydeck. One of the streets in the district, called Yanovskaya, was named after the soviet envoy P.G. Yanovsky who handed over an ultimatum to the Commandant of Königsberg in April 1945. However, he is not commemorated in the area either.

In this connection, it might make sense to develop guided tours in the district, such, for example, as «Women's history of the area», «Professors of Königsberg Art Academy — residents of the neighborhood», «Three hundred years of the Altrossgarten Church history», «Public spaces in the neighborhood of «Kronrpinz» barracks: past and present», «Multicultural history of «Kronrpinz» area, etc. A virtual map of the area with descriptions and images of cultural heritage sites and historical figures, whose life was connected to the area, would enrich local community's and tourists' information resources. This, consequently, could help taking on more meaningful character to everyday practices of citizens and stimulating their more responsible and active participation in urban development processes.
How did the area, where «Kronrpinz» emerged, look initially? What kind of transformations did it undergo during the German and Soviet times? What can be changed here today? We publish the excerpts from the study «History of the neighborhood of «Kronrpinz» barracks» commissioned in the framework of UrbCulturalPlanning project and undertaken by Ilia Dementiev, PhD in History, in November 2019.

The main aim of the study is to analyze the role of the area, where «Kronrpinz» barracks are located (between 9 Aprelya St., Frunze St. and Litovsky val St. on the modern map), played in the history of Königsberg-Kaliningrad, to identify historically determined specific features of this area and explore possible ways of using the historic experience of the neighborhood and its residents for improving quality of life of local citizens, urban environment and realization of tourist potential of its cultural heritage sites.
Ilia Dementiev

The history of the area can be a reason for preserving an image of tabula rasa, but it can also encourage promotion of the ideas of social and cultural diversity, interdisciplinary practices and memorial culture, based on the dialogue of culturse and respect to social and cultural experience of former and current residents of the area.
The full text of the study will be published later.