In 1336, after the Prussian Crusade, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights Dietrich von Altenburg founded a castle called Instierburg at the site of a former Old Prussian fortification. During their campaign against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the place was devastated in 1376 and again by Polish troops in 1457. The castle had been rebuilt as the seat of a Procurator and a settlement grew up to serve it, also called Insterburg.
When Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1525 securalized the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, Insterburg became part of the Duchy of Prussia and was granted town privileges on 10 October 1583 by the Prussian regent Margrave George Frederick. The town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. Because the area had been depopulated by plague in the early 18th century, King Frederick William I of Prussia invited Protestant refugees who had been expelled from the Archbishopric of Salzburg to settle in Insterburg in 1732.
During World War II, Insterburg was heavily bombed by the British Royal Air Force on 27 July 1944. The town was stormed by Red Army troops on January 21–22, 1945. With the northern part of East Prussia, Insterburg was transferred from Germany to the Soviet Union after the war according to the Potsdam Conference. Its German population was either evacuated or expelled and replaced with Russians. In 1946 Insterburg was renamed Chernyakhovsk in honor of the Soviet World War II General of the army Ivan Chernyakhovsky, who was killed in the Battle of Königsberg.
The festival Insterfest took place at the old castle of Isterburg during summer 2008. Many guests - musicians, painters, photographers, scientists from several countries get toghether to give new life to the walls of this old castle. With the efforts of enthousiasts castle is renovating, and some of it`s facilities are already in use by it`s habitants - team of russian archeologists, historicals and artists.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.