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Strait of Baltiysk and Baltiysk, Russia

July 1st, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Strait of Baltiysk (also Pilawa Strait) is the strait in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. It connects Gdansk Bay (Baltic Sea) and Vistula Bay, and separates Sambian Peninsula and Vistula Spit.

The strait is the main connection from the open sea to the important ports of Baltiysk and Kaliningrad.

Baltiysk (Russian: Балти́йск), prior to 1945 known by its German name Pillau (Polish Piława; Lithuanian: Piliava), is today a Russian sea port [1] in the strait between Vistula Bay and Gdańsk Bay, called Strait of Baltiysk, in the Kaliningrad Oblast enclave. Population is 33,252 (2002 Census) largely inflated by military personnel and their dependents. (In 1900 the town's population was 3000). Baltiysk is, along with Kaliningrad, one of two year-round, ice-free ports along the Baltic Sea coastline available to Russia. The town is now a major naval base of the Russian Navy and a ferry port[2] on the route to St. Petersburg.

The town was founded as a village in Ducal Prussia well before the 17th century, and is situated on the formerly named Frische Haff, 29 miles from Kaliningrad (Königsberg). Prior to 1945 there were road, rail, and steamer connexions between the two places.

During the Thirty Years' War after a battle between Sweden and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the port was captured by Swedes. King Gustavus Adolphus landed there with reinforcements for the Swedes in May 1626. After the ceasefire of Altmark (1629) the Swedes kept control of the town, which they retained for several more years, whence it was returned to Prussia.

The town was granted German town/city rights in 1725.

Prior to World War I Pillau was upgraded to 'fortress' status, and the lighthouse was rebuilt. Because of its excellent harbour, and proximity to the capital city of East Prussia, a ship-canal was completed in 1904 between Pillau and Königsberg, at a cost of 13 million marks, which enabled vessels of a 21 foot draught to moor alongside the city.

During World War II, Pillau had a U-boat training facility. In 1945, as the Red Army invaded the area, well over 450,000 refugees were ferried from Pillau to central and western Germany. After the war, this part of East Prussia was annexed by the Soviet Union, and the German inhabitants were expelled or murdered. As a result of Russification, the town's name was changed to Baltiysk.

Until the collapse of Communism, this was a "closed town", meaning that access was forbidden to foreigners or those without a pass.

(Source: Wikipedia)

(Source: Wikipedia)

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