1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Königsberg

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KÖNIGSBERG (Polish Krolewiec), a town of Germany, capital of the province of East Prussia and a fortress of the first rank. Pop. (1880), 140,800; (1890), 161,666; (1905), 219,862 (including the incorporated suburbs). It is situated on rising ground, on both sides of the Pregel, 4½ m. from its mouth in the Frische Haff, 397 m. N. E. of Berlin, on the railway to Eydtkuhnen and at the junction of lines to Pillau, Tilsit and Kranz. It consists of three parts, which were formerly independent administrative units, the Altstadt (old town), to the west, Löbenicht to the east, and the island Kneiphof, together with numerous suburbs, all embraced in a circuit of 9½ miles. The Pregel, spanned by many bridges, flows through the town in two branches, which unite below the Grüne Brücke. Its greatest breadth within the town is from 80 to 90 yards, and it is usually frozen from November to March. Königsberg does not retain many marks of antiquity. The Altstadt has long and narrow streets, but the Kneiphof quarter is roomier. Of the seven market-places only that in the Altstadt retains something of its former appearance. Among the more interesting buildings are the Schloss, a long rectangle begun in 1255 and added to later, with a Gothic tower 277 ft. high and a chapel built in 1592, in which Frederick I. in 1701 and William I. in 1861 crowned themselves kings of Prussia; and the cathedral, begun in 1333 and restored in 1856, a Gothic building with a tower 164 ft. high, adjoining which is the tomb of Kant. The Schloss was originally the residence of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic order and later of the dukes of Prussia. Behind is the parade-ground, with the statues of Albert I. and of Frederick William III. by August Kiss, and the grounds also contain monuments to Frederick I. and William I. To the east is the Schlossteich, a long narrow ornamental lake covering 12 acres. The north-west side of the parade-ground is occupied by the new university buildings, completed in 1865; these and the new exchange on the south side of the Pregel are the finest architectural features of the town. The university (Collegium Albertinum) was founded in 1544 by Albert I., duke of Prussia, as a “purely Lutheran” place of learning. It is chiefly distinguished for its mathematical and philosophical studies, and possesses a famous observatory, established in 1811 by Frederick William Bessel, a library of about 240,000 volumes, a zoological museum, a botanical garden, laboratories and valuable mathematical and other scientific collections. Among its famous professors have been Kant (who was born here in 1724 and to whom a monument was erected in 1864), J. G. von Herder, Bessel, F. Neumann and J. F. Herbart. It is attended by about 1000 students and has a teaching staff of over 100. Among other educational establishments, Königsberg numbers four classical schools (gymnasia) and three commercial schools, an academy of painting and a school of music. The hospitals and benevolent institutions are numerous. The town is less well equipped with museums and similar institutions, the most noteworthy being the Prussia museum of antiquities, which is especially rich in East Prussian finds from the Stone age to the Viking period. Besides the cathedral the town has fourteen churches.

Königsberg is a naval and military fortress of the first order. The fortifications were begun in 1843 and were only completed in 1905, although the place was surrounded by walls in early times. The works consist of an inner wall, brought into connexion with an outlying system of works, and of twelve detached forts, of which six are on the right and six on the left bank of the Pregel. Between them lie two great forts, that of Friedrichsburg on an island in the Pregel and that of the Kaserne Kronprinz on the east of the town, both within the environing ramparts. The protected position of its harbour has made Königsberg one of the most important commercial cities of Germany. A new channel has recently been made between it and its port, Pillau, 29 miles distant, on the outer side of the Frische Haff, so as to admit vessels drawing 20 feet of water right up to the quays of Königsberg, and the result has been to stimulate the trade of the city. It is protected for a long distance by moles, in which a break has been left in the Fischhauser Wiek, to permit of freer circulation of the water and to prevent damage to the mainland.

The industries of Königsberg have made great advances within recent years, notable among them are printing-works and manufactures of machinery, locomotives, carriages, chemicals, toys, sugar, cellulose, beer, tobacco and cigars, pianos and amber wares. The principal exports are cereals and flour, cattle, horses, hemp, flax, timber, sugar and oilcake. There are two pretty public parks, one in the Hufen, with a zoological garden attached, another the Luisenwahl which commemorates the sojourn of Queen Louisa of Prussia in the town in the disastrous year 1806.

The Altstadt of Königsberg grew up around the castle built in 1255 by the Teutonic Order, on the advice of Ottaker II. King of Bohemia, after whom the place was named. Its first site was near the fishing village of Steindamm, but after its destruction by the Prussians in 1263 it was rebuilt in its present position. It received civic privileges in 1286, the two other parts of the present town — Löbenicht and Kneiphof — receiving them a few years later. In 1340 Königsberg entered the Hanseatic League. From 1457 it was the residence of the grand master of the Teutonic Order, and from 1525 till 1618 of the dukes of Prussia. The trade of Königsberg was much hindered by the constant shifting and silting up of the channels leading to its harbour; and the great northern wars did it immense harm, but before the end of the 17th century it had almost recovered.

In 1724 the three independent parts were united into a single town by Frederick William I.

Königsberg suffered severely during the war of liberation and was occupied by the French in 1807. In 1813 the town was the scene of the deliberations which led to the successful uprising of Prussia against Napoleon. During the 19th century the opening of a railway system in East Prussia and Russia gave a new impetus to its commerce, making it the principal outlet for the Russian staples — grain, seeds, flax and hemp. It has now regular steam communication with Memel, Stettin, Kiel, Amsterdam and Hull.

See Faber, Die Haupt- und Residenzstadt Königsberg in Preussen (Königsberg, 1840); Schubert, Zur 600-jährigen Jubelfeier Königsbergs (Königsberg. 1855); Beckherrn, Geschichte der Befestigungen Königsbergs (Königsberg, 1890); H. G. Prutz, Die königliche Albertus-Universität zu Königsberg im 19 Jahrhundert (Königsberg, 1894); Armstedt, Geschichte der königlichen Haupt- und Residenzstadt Königsberg (Stuttgart, 1899) ; M. Schultze, Königsberg und Ostpreussen zu Anfang 1813 (Berlin, 1901); and Gordak, Wegweiser durch Königsberg (Königsberg, 1904).