Yantarny - Palmnicken

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Known as Palmnicken in German times, the urban type settlement Yantarnyi is located on the coast, about 40 km from Kaliningrad.

Palmnicken was founded in 1234 by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades, on the site of a previous Old Prussian settlement. Palmnicken became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701, and was occupied by Imperial Russian troops between 1758 and 1762 during the Seven Years' War.

In the 16th century amber collected along the coastline was brought to Palmnicken where it was sorted and then sent to Königsberg for further processing. The local amber trade along the coast of the Sambian Peninsula entered industrial development in 1827, with Palmnicken eventually becoming the primary town of the industry in the region.

In 1858 the firm Stantien & Becker was founded.

Stantien & Becker created the first open pit amber mine in the world, but mined amber mainly with the method of underground mining (pits "Anna" and "Henriette").

Initially the mine produced 50 tons of amber annually, but by 1937 it produced 650 tons annually and employed 700 workers.

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Massacre of Palmnicken

Due to the advance of Soviet troops in January 1945, the Stutthof concentration camp, an SS subcamp near Stutthof (now Sztutowo, Poland), was disbanded and its inmates were sent on a forced march through Königsberg to Palmnicken, which only 3,000 of the original 13,000 inmates survived. Originally, the surviving detainees were to be walled up within a tunnel of an amber mine in Palmnicken, but this plan collapsed upon the objections of the mine's manager. The SS guards then brought the prisoners to the beach of Palmnicken during the night of January 31, and forced them to march into the Baltic Sea under gunfire, with only 33 of the known by name inmates surviving. A monument to the victims was unveiled in Yantarny on January, 30, 2011. The monument, by Frank Meisler, features hands lifted up to the sky as a symbol of the perishing people.


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Post-1945

Palmnicken was eventually captured by the Red Army on 7 April 1945, during the closing days of the war. The northern third of East Prussia, including Palmnicken, became part of the Soviet Union in 1945 under terms of border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference. The German population evacuated or was subsequently expelled to western Germany. Palmnicken was renamed Yantarny, derived from yantar, the Russian word for amber, and was repopulated by Soviet settlers.

As part of the Soviet Union, Yantarny produced approximately 600 tons of amber annually through the company Russky Yantar ("Russian Amber"). The refinement of amber was discontinued in 2002 by a directive of the Russian Regulatory Authority for Technology and Environmental Protection.

Some years later, a new open pit mine ("Primorskoje") was established in immediate vicinity of the old open pit mine.

Best time to visit Yantarnyi is summer.


Top 5 Things to Do when You are in Yantarny

1. Take a spade and find the semiprecious sunny stone on a special sand ground made on the site of the operating open-cast or take part in International festivity “Amberfest” in Yantarny held annually in summer.

2. Feel the Amber from inside the Amber Pyramid made of 800 kg of Amber. Relax sitting on the bench there! Amber will absorb all your negative energy! Physical strengh and good spirits are guaranteed!

3. Stroll in the Bekker’s park among the old trees (planted in the end of 19th cent.) and Enjoy a good lunch in the restaurant with a sea-view at the end of the park.

4. View the Amber creations of craftsmen on display in the exhibition complex at the Amber castle.

5. Swim in the lake close to the Sea where the water is always warmer than in the Sea and Stroll along the main road taking a look at the old German houses left in Yantarny.

Good luck in Yantarny! Have a good time there!


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