The Brandenburg Gate is one of few surviving city gates in Kaliningrad. It was built in the south-western part of Königsberg in 1657, with the strengthening of the city walls at the intersection with the road leading to the castle of Brandenburg (now the village of Ushakovo). Due to lack of funds a mere wooden gate was erected. Some hundred years later the gate was torn down and replaced by a brick structure by order of King Frederick II of Prussia.

During restoration work in 1843 the gate was significantly altered and decorated with sharp decorative pediments, cruciform sandstone color, stylized leaves on the tops, coats of arms and medallions. Sculptures of Field Marshal Hermann von Boyen (1771-1848), a war minister and reformer of the Prussian army, and Lieutenant-General Ernst von Aster (1778-1855), chief of the engineering corps, and one of the initiators of the second strengthening of the city walls, were added as well.

The Brandenburg Gate is the only gate of the still existing gates of Kaliningrad that performs its original transport function. The structure has been restored and is protected by the state as an architectural monument.

Though built in the middle of the 19th century, the Königsberg gates were neogothic in style. The Brandenburg Gate expresses the Gothic motifs particularly vividly. The pediments in the form of arrows give this gate, which is in fact rather low, a sense of height. The gate is richly decorated with decorative elements, such as the high relief stone and stylized flowers.

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Founded: 1657
Category: Castles and fortifications in Russia

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Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.