Baltiysk - Pillau

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A Prussian fishing village sprang up on the coast at some point in the 13th century, taking its name from Pils, the Old Prussian word for "fort".

During the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes occupied the harbour in the aftermath of their victory over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

King Gustavus Adolphus landed there in May 1626. After the ceasefire of Altmark (1629) the Swedes retained Pillau and set out upgrading its fortifications. They constructed a star fort which remains one of the town's landmarks. The heart of the town is the pentagonal star-shaped fortress Pillau.

The Pillau Citadel is the only place in town that is best seen on Google Earth – its perfect star shape is quite impressive. Its thick brick walls have been in use for hundreds of years. Their sturdiness is probably why the fortress still serves as a functional military base. Today, Pillau Citadel houses a Russian Naval Museum, and is open to visitors.


By the end of the 17th century, the town had expanded considerably. A lighthouse and a stone church were built.

The history of the Baltic fortress is closely connected with the development of the Russian state. In 1697, the future emperor of Russia Peter I visited the fortress for the first time. Here he studied bombardier and artillery art, as well as fortification art. There is a statue of the Tsar next to the lighthouse.

Russian forces occupied the town during the Seven Years' War and built a small Orthodox church there. From 1758 to 1762, East Prussia was a province of Russia, where Empress Elizabeth was called "King" of Prussia. During these years the fortress was under the authority of Russian commandants, and its garrison consisted mainly of Russian soldiers. The close cooperation between Russia and Prussia continued in the following centuries, and fortress Pillau played an important role in it. The event is commemorated by the equestrian statue of Empress Elizabeth.

In June 1807 Pillau was stormed by Napoleon's Grand Army.

The lighthouse was built up to a height of 31,38 meters, and the entire fortress was updated and rebuilt by the Prussians in 1871.

On 15 November 1901 the Königsberg Canal was opened between Pillau and Königsberg. Constructed at a staggering cost of 13 million marks, the waterway allowed vessels of a 21 foot draught to moor alongside the city or to sail to the capital of East Prussia without stopping at Pillau. This dealt a serious blow to the town's economy.

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During World War II, Pillau had a U-boat training facility. On 16 April 1945, the U-78 was sunk by Soviet artillery fire while she was docked near the electricity supply pier in the German port. As the Red Army entered East Prussia, more than 450,000 refugees were ferried from Pillau to central and western Germany.

Pillau was eventually captured by the Soviet Army on April 25, 1945. After the war, this part of East Prussia passed to the Soviet Union, and the German inhabitants were expelled. The town's name was changed to Baltiysk in 1946.

The German Military Cemetery at Baltiysk (Pillau) contains 12,084 graves, including 204 from the sinking of the ship 'Wilhelm Gustloff'. One of the more senior officers buried at Pillau is 'Fritz' Lang, General Major commanding the German 95th Infantry Division. Lang was killed on the 16th April 1945. The cemetery is in a peaceful spot surrounded by pine trees.

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In 1952, the Soviet authorities inaugurated a naval base of the Baltic Fleet at Baltiysk.

As a result, it became a closed town: access was forbidden to foreigners or those without a permit. The town, along with Kaliningrad, remains one of only two year-round, ice-free ports along the Baltic Sea coastline available to Russia.

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Attention, please!

Foreign tourists must have special permits from authorities to visit Baltiysk.

They need to be arranged in advance. That is why if you decide to visit Baltiysk, you will have to email us copies of your passports approx. 2 weeks before visiting.

Given the sensitivity of the area, visitors must accept sudden changes in the itinerary which may be imposed without warning.

Travel request


      Baltic Exotic Ltd.,
      Generala Ozerova Str., 10
      Kaliningrad 236022,

      Phone: +7- 4012-991-100,  563-100,  762-100,  933-101.
      Phone/fax: + 7-4012-563-110



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Generala Ozerova Str., 10 Kaliningrad 236022, Russia   
Phone: +7- 4012-991-100, 563-100, 762-100, 933-101. Phone/fax: + 7-4012-563-110,

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