On the map of the Kaliningrad Region two narrow strips of land are striking, separating the Curonian and Kaliningrad bays from the Baltic Sea. The southwest strip is the Baltic Spit.
Originally German, after World War II, the Baltic Spit was divided between Russia and Poland. In Poland, the spit is called Vistula and its Polish part has long been developing as a seaside resort. The northern part of the spit throughout the twentieth century was a closed military facility, first German, after the Great Patriotic War - Soviet, and then Russian. Only in 2010, restrictions on visiting the spit were lifted and tourists began to travel freely there.
According to scientists, the Baltic Spit appeared about 6,000 years ago, when the north-west of the Central Russian Plain freed itself from the Valdai Glacier and the Gulf of Kaliningrad was formed. Sea waves and currents carry sand ashore, and winds form dunes. The height of the dunes is not more than 40 meters, and vegetation grown on the sand delays its movement.
The waters of the Baltic Sea have always sought to break into the bay, eroding the scythe in one place or another. In 1510, a particularly strong storm broke out, which deepened one of the straits. Since then, it is here that the northern border of the Baltic Spit passes - the strait separates the spit from the city of Baltiysk. The connection between the streamer and the mainland is provided by boats and car ferries.
The length of the spit is 65 km, 35 of which are Russian territory. Width - from 300 to 1800 meters. The closed border zone on the Russian side begins 7 km to the border, there is no border crossing.
The western tip of the Russian part of the Baltic Spit with the coordinate 19 ° 38 'east longitude is the westernmost point of Russia.
In 1869, German engineers, rebuilding the old fortress of the city of Pillau, supplemented it with two forts. One of them, the "Western", was located behind the strait, at the northern tip of the Baltic Spit. He covered the city from the Baltic. The fort had powerful brick wall-galleries, additionally protected by earthen ramparts, and a two-story barracks. Three caponiers (long ledges-galleries, designed to fire at once in two opposite directions) made it possible to keep under crossfire almost the entire surrounding water area, coast and strait. In addition, after the invention of high-explosive bombs, some of the fort's structures were additionally fortified with then-new material - concrete.
In 1934, next to Fort Zapadny, on the shore of the semicircular bay of the Kaliningrad Gulf, the Germans began the construction of a military airfield Neutief (Noitif). The work was completed at the end of 1939. The airfield could take not only ordinary, but also seaplanes, and in almost any weather. Three concrete aircraft hangars 100 by 30 meters and two metal garages for other equipment were built.
On April 26, 1945, a Soviet landing party landed on a scythe, battles continued until May 9. After the war ended, Soviet troops began to use the airfield, including for the placement of seaplanes and amphibious aircraft, and the Baltic Fleet base was located in Baltiysk.
Soon after the collapse of the USSR, troops left the aerodrome on the spit, and it began to quickly collapse. An even more sad fate went to Fort Zapadny. During its construction, the Germans used the most modern materials, but did not take into account one thing - the variability of the coastline. For a hundred years, the sea has successfully crushed a wide coastal strip strengthened by piles and the breakwaters protecting it, approaching the very walls of the fort. The southern caponier almost completely went under water, the earthen ramparts are washed away by the surf, which splashes in the brick arches of the galleries. The northern and southern caponiers were partially destroyed during the war, partially demolished by brick by local residents. However, even in this form, the powerful ceilings of the fort, overgrown with grass, make a strong impression.
The main wealth of the Baltic Spit today is its many kilometers of sandy beaches thirty meters wide, almost untouched by civilization. The tourist infrastructure of the spit is limited to a small campsite and cafe.
Origin| edit code
The Baltic Spit is a marine accumulative formation - a natural phenomenon that consists in counteracting two natural forces. Sea waves and coastal currents move sand to the shore, and the wind moves to the spit itself, forming aeolian deposits (dunes). The height of the dunes of the Baltic Spit does not exceed 40 meters. Spit vegetation delays the movement of masses of sand. The dune formation process began about 6000 years ago, after the formation of the Vistula (Kaliningrad) Gulf. The latter was formed after the retreat of the Valdai Glacier due to movements of the earth's crust and fluctuations in the level of the Baltic Sea.
How to get to the Baltic Spit
Site: baltparom.ru Address: 2A Marine Boulevard Ferry Crossing Cost to the Baltic Spit and back: 70 rubles, from 6 to 12 years old - 40 rubles., up to 6 years old free of charge, a passenger with a bicycle - 100 rubles. The cost of transporting a motor vehicle depends on the maximum weight allowed.
To get to the Baltic Spit in Baltiysk you need to take a ferry or boat. The ferry service is carried out by the Baltic Shipping Company on the Vistula and Nida ferries. The ticket must be bought at the Baltiysk ticket office and saved until the end of the trip, it is valid in both directions. Ticket offices are open from 7.00 in the morning. The ferry departs from the pier located next to the monument to Peter I on Morskoy Boulevard.
Ferry service from Baltiysk is carried out daily at: 7.20, 10.00, 12.00, 14.00, 16.00, 18.00, 20.00, 21.30. From the Baltic Spit - at the same time + 10 minutes. The distance that the ferry travels is approximately 800 meters, the travel time is 5-10 minutes. On the boat you can cross in a minute.
Map of the Baltic Spit
Sights of the Baltic Spit on the map.
The southern pier was created in 1887 to protect the coastline from sea waves, it has a green lighthouse. Attempts to create a pier were made repeatedly, but only this design was the most durable.
Across the strait at a distance of 361 meters is the North Pier, a red lighthouse is installed on it. Two malls are a kind of gateway to the Baltic Sea.
On the Baltic Spit, next to the South Pier, is an abandoned dilapidated Western (Sea) fort. Opposite him across the strait is the Pillau Citadel. By the way, there is East Fort. It is located in the city of Baltiysk, next to the park named after A. Golovko, is unavailable for visiting, is a private property.
The western fort was built in 1869 in case of war for the cross artillery defense of the Strait of Pillau, but there was never any active fighting in it.
During the fighting in April 1945, he did not participate in the German resistance, the garrison was not there.
The western fort is a monument of fortification architecture of the mid-19th century. It is classified as an architectural monument of regional importance, but is not protected by the state, is in the public domain. Destroyed by sea storms, time and vandals.
There is a likelihood that the fort will soon disappear under the influence of the sea. It is increasingly capturing land and stepping on the fort.
Neutief is a German airfield built (1934-1939) on the Baltic Spit. Intended for land and seaplanes Luftwaffe. The uniqueness of the airport is that it was built on the sand. The airfield was supplied only by sea, and electricity appeared here only in 1938 - an electric cable was laid along the bottom of the strait.
There were two huge concrete hangars with electrified gates for airplanes, 2 metal hangars for other equipment, two concrete runways with heating and illumination about a kilometer long each, a hydro-harbor for seaplanes. As well as workshops, boiler room, pump station, transformer substation, warehouses, barracks and other outbuildings. A residential settlement was immediately created on the spit.
Noitif was considered one of the best military air bases in Germany.
Despite large-scale battles on the Baltic Spit, the airfield was in excellent condition. After the war, the airport was used by the Baltic Fleet: Katalin seaplanes were based here, and later amphibious aircraft or flying boats: Be-4, Be-6 and Be-12.
By the 90s, the airport required major repairs and was no longer needed by the military. Since 1996, the airport has been abandoned and is a historical monument of World War II: it was here that the East Prussian operation ended. Continues to collapse from time to time. And one flying Be-12 boat from the Baltic Spit can be seen in Kaliningrad, it belongs to the Museum of the World Ocean.
Onshore anti-aircraft batteries
The German airfield on the Baltic Spit was protected from the sea by coastal anti-aircraft batteries. A system of reinforced concrete caponiers and underground bunkers was built, some of them two-story.
Of the artillery batteries on the Baltic Spit, the most famous anti-aircraft battery is Lemberg.
Anti-aircraft battery Lemberg (Lehmberg) is Pillau’s emergency air defense command post. There were four guns “S.K. C / 32 ”with a 105 mm caliber and four hoppers for them. And also here were located bunkers for personnel, ammunition, a power station, a canteen and other bunkers. The total number is 25 bins.
In April 1945, the Lemberg anti-aircraft battery, led by German General Karl Henke, resisted to the last, refusing to give up. On April 27, Henke shot himself, the surviving Germans surrendered.
Currently, bunkers belong to the military unit, but are not guarded and not blocked. There are bunkers that can be found right on the beach, some were under the sands, some under water.
The Baltic Spit is an amazing place. Time seems to have stopped here. Few people, the almost complete absence of organized tourism, abandoned grandiose buildings and the grandeur of nature - all this is strikingly different from the cultivated Curonian Spit.
Ideal for those who enjoy a “wild” vacation without amenities. Here you can safely walk along the dunes, there are no prohibitions, unlike the Curonian Spit.
The Baltic Spit is of great interest to lovers of military facilities and abandoned houses. There is something to see and where to climb.
Site: vk.com/public149167690 Address: Baltic Spit, 7A Morskaya Naberezhnaya Str. Opening hours: from 10.00 to 18.00 from Tuesday to Sunday - from June to August, the rest of the months are only on Saturdays and Sundays. Free admission.
Park and Museum Complex "Old Lynet" was created by enthusiasts in 2017. He talks about the history of the Baltic Spit and the hostilities that took place on Frisch Nehrung. Here you can watch historical films about Baltiysk and the Baltic Spit. Presented maps, drawings, pre-war photographs. Guided tours.
The project of the museum “Military secrets of the westernmost point of Russia” received a presidential grant in 2019, winning the competition.
Visit or live
If you are accustomed to a comfortable rest - just come for a day without spending the night - you will not find tourist attractions here. Well, if you like to retire with a tent, then the Baltic Spit is just the place for you. Look for a secluded place, since there is enough of it here, and set up a camp. By the way, at the pier you can rent tents and everything you need to relax. Tent rental will start from 150 rubles per day, sleeping bag - from 100 rubles per day.
From the point of view of natural beauties, the diversity of birds, animals and plants, the Baltic Spit is not inferior to the Curonian Spit, although it is little known as a place for walking and relaxing even for residents of the Kaliningrad Region, not to mention the rest of the Russians. If you are a lover of secluded, contemplative relaxation, there is no better place to enjoy the beauty of endless snow-white beaches. And just go into the dunes, you may encounter the local inhabitants: pine marten, raccoon dog, fox and wild boar, roe deer, badger, hedgehog or mole. In total there are 29 species of mammals. But out of 115 species of birds that live here or are in the period of migration, 5 species are listed in the Red Book of the Baltic region.
Here you can also find 13 species of plants listed in the Red Book, for example, a blue-headed head, and also the fruit wildly growing local trees are famous for their delicious fruits.
Unfortunately, the Vistula Spit nature reserve, which existed here in Soviet times, has not been preserved. For many years, the question of its revival has been discussed, it is really necessary in order to preserve the unique natural landscape, flora and fauna of these places.
Abandoned German Noitif Airfield
The airfield built in 1934-1939 was the most equipped in eastern Prussia. After the war, the Soviet military continued to use Noitif, who was not affected by the hostilities. When the airfield was empty in the 90s, its buildings began to slowly collapse, deteriorate, and some simply disassembled building materials. Today, dilapidated hangars and bunkers are still impressive in scale.
Although the fort was built in 1869-1871, the prerequisites for its construction appeared much earlier, when in the autumn of 1510, as a result of a grand storm, a strait formed between the spit and the mainland. Later it became clear that due to military conflicts with neighbors, the strait requires protection. As a result, a red brick structure in the shape of an irregular pentagon, protected from the rear by a moat with a water and a drawbridge, grew up here. During the war, the fort was also not damaged, but today it is, although picturesque, but ruins. The elements and actions of local residents, adapting ancient objects to household needs, unfortunately, do not contribute to the preservation of the monument.
Coastal anti-aircraft battery "Lemberg"
Especially if you find yourself on the Baltic Spit with children, especially with the boys, you can arrange a trip to the Lemberg battery. It will be a real adventure - after all, finding this structure in the moving Baltic sands will be very difficult, despite the fact that the surviving battery ruins are vast. Here you can clearly imagine what the battery looked like at a time when it was actively used, climb the remains of bunkers.
The Lemberg battery, erected in 1943, was part of the air defense and an alternative command post at the Pillau Naval Base. The most powerful battery complex included four gun caponiers made of concrete, 25 reinforced concrete bunkers with thick walls, the width of which reached more than 2 meters. The bunkers were designed for both the military and for storage of ammunition, for the detention and household needs. The layout of the rooms was well thought out and provided access to the guns and convenient movement inside the battery. The bunkers were connected by camouflaged branches with aisles.
In April 1945, after the capture of Pillau, as a result of a fierce battle on April 27, this part of the Baltic Spit came under the control of the USSR troops.
In the end
I think that whatever attracts you - nature or historical values, it is worth a trip to the Baltic Spit. Of course, it would be logical to combine a trip to the spit with a visit to Baltiysk (formerly Pillau), or maybe even admire the military parade, for example, on the day of the Navy, in order to fully experience the military history of these places. If you were on the Curonian Spit, it will be interesting to compare these two unique natural phenomena in terms of picturesque and recreational opportunities. In general, go, you will not regret it.