During the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes occupied the harbour in the aftermath of their victory over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. King Gustavus Adolphus landed there with his reinforcements in May 1626. After the ceasefire of Altmark (1629) the Swedes retained Pillau and set out upgrading its fortifications. They constructed a star fort which remains one of the town's landmarks.
In 1635 the citizens of Pillau paid the ransom of 10,000 thalers, whereupon Swedish forces handed over the settlement to the Elector of Brandenburg.By the end of the 17th century, the town had expanded considerably. A lighthouse and a stone church were built. Peter the Great of Russia visited Pillau on three occasions, the first being in 1697, in connection with his Great Embassy to Western Europe. There is a statue of the Tsar next to the lighthouse. After Pillau was granted Magdeburg rights in 1725, the town hall was constructed. This Baroque edifice, inaugurated in May 1745, was destroyed at the end of World War II.
Russian forces occupied the town during the Seven Years' War and built a small Orthodox church there. The event is commemorated by the equestrian statue of Empress Elizabeth (2004). In June 1807 Pillau was stormed by Napoleon's Grand Army. No outstanding events took place during the rest of the 19th century. Records of a Scottish "Colony" established here in 1815 appeared in a 1890 Publication, although their authenticity is questionable. The lighthouse was built up to a height of 31,38 meters, and the entire fortress was updated and rebuilt by the Prussians in 1871.
After the war, this part of East Prussia passed to the Soviet Union, and the German inhabitants were expelled. During the Russification campaign, the town's name was changed to Baltiysk in 1946.
In 1952, the Soviet authorities inaugurated a naval base of the Baltic Fleet at Baltiysk. As a result, it became a closed town: access was forbidden to foreigners or those without a permit. During the Cold War it was served by the Baltiysk air base. The town, along with Kaliningrad, remains one of only two year-round, ice-free ports along the Baltic Sea coastline available to Russia.
Attractions in and around the town include the pentagonal Pillau Citadel, currently holding a naval museum; the ruins of the 13th-century Lochstadt Castle; a maze of 19th-century naval fortifications the Naval Cathedral of St. George (1866) the 32-metre Expressionist observation tower (1932) the Gothic Revival building of the Baltic Fleet Museum (1903) and an elegant lighthouse.
From here you can visit Svetlogorsk, an elegant and attractive coastal resort and spa or continue on to the high dunes on the Curonian Spit, a spit of land some 100km long between the River Nemunas and Kaliningrad.
This belongs partly to Russia and partly to Lithuania and separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Here we will see the second highest bank of sand dunes in Europe. In 2000 this area was added to the UNESCO list of sites of outstanding natural interest. Nearby there are also amber mines.
The official currency of Russia is the ruble, which is divided into one hundred kopeks. It is illegal to pay in foreign currency. ATM's are many. Most upscale establishments will accept credit cards.