The Baltic resort of Svetlogorsk in Russia’s Kaliningrad region is located on top of a cliff above the sea. To bring visitors down to the beach, the city’s unique fleet of tiny yellow gondolas carries just one or two people at a time.
The town became a fashionable vacation spot in the early 19th century, back when the resort was called Rauschen and belonged to the German province of East Prussia. Because a sand dune limited access to the sea, much of the tourism was initially centered around the lake, known as Mühlen-taich (Mill Pond). When a railway was extended to the town in the early 20th century, its popularity grew even further.
The beach gondolas were built in 1912, and originally connected directly to the regional train system through the station Rauschen-Dünen (now “Svetlogorsk II”) and provided easy access to the beach. The 90-meter inclined track carried visitors to and from the seashore.
After 1945, the Russians continued operating the beach gondolas after annexing Rauschen (and renaming it Svetlogorsk) as well as the rest of the northern half of East Prussia into their new Kaliningrad region. Though now it is more than 100 years old, the gondola system has stuck around into the present.
Know Before You Go
The beach gondolas are located next to the train/bus station 'Svetlogorsk II'. A one-way gondola ticket is 50 rubles, approximately €0.60.