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The Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress occupies a special place in the history of St Petersburg. It was with this citadel, founded on 16 (27 New Style) May 1703 by Domenico Trezzini and called “Sankt-Pieterburgh” in a Dutch manner, that the city which was to become the capital of the Russian Empire began. The Peter and Paul Fortress protected the newly-born city of St.Petersburg from the Swedes. It later was turned into a political prison in which many notables such as Dostoevsky, Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin's older brother Alexander were kept.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest stone building in St.Petersburg — the city marks its birthday by the day when the cathedral's construction began. The Peter and Paul's Cathedral is a burial place of all Russian emperors and empresses from Peter I to Nicholas II
The ground-plan of the fortress on Hare Island was a stretched hexagon: six curtain walls linked six massive bastions protruding towards an attacker. Peter the Great personally supervised the construction of one bastion and entrusted the others to his closest associates: Menshikov, Golovkin, Zotov, Trubetskoi and Naryshkin. The main gate was placed in the curtain wall between the Tsar and Menshikov Bastions. It faced St Petersburg’s earliest bridge that connected the fortress with the neighbouring Birch Island. A moat was dug out in front of the gate and an earthworks ravelin (V-shaped outwork) piled up to Peter and Paul Cathedral protect it from artillery fire. In order to provide the garrison with water in the event of a siege, a special canal was out the length of the island.

The total thickness of the fortifications, which consisted of two walls – the outer, escarp wall, and the inner wall – reached 20 metres in places, while the height was 12 metres. Between those two walls there were two tiers of vaulted casemates, one on top of the other. Artillery pieces were installed in these, ammunition stored there and they were also used as barracks for the soldiers of the garrison. Domenico Trezzini designed this magnificent Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul within the fortress in 1712. He produced a Baroque masterpiece of singular elegance. The interior, with its glittering chandeliers, pink and green Corinthian columns, and overarching vaults, is a far cry from the traditional Russian Orthodox church.

The total thickness of the fortress - 20 metres

The Peter and Paul Cathedral
The primary attraction within the fortress is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, begun by Peter as soon as the fortress had been constructed, though not completed until 1733. In keeping with Peter's Eurocentric bias, its design follows the pattern of Dutch ecclesiastical architecture rather than Russian. Peter and Paul Fortress, panoramic viewThe most noticeable characteristic of this is the cathedral's tall thin spire (121.8 meters high), which was designed specifically so as to best Moscow's Ivan the Great Belltower as the tallest structure in Russia.

There is a strip of beach between the fortress walls and the Neva and here Petersburgers, sporting the latest in retro swimwear, begin to appear in mid-April or whenever the temperature rises above ten degrees Celsius, standing up against the wall to shelter themselves from the wind and achieve maximum exposure to the sun. Don't freak if you hear artillery fire: it's not the start of another
coup, it just means that it's either noon or midnight or, at the very worst, a flood.

Address: 3 Petropavlovskaya Krepost
Open: 10.00 - 17.00
Closed: on WED
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from 11:00 till 19:00
Tel.: +7 (812) 913-08-32


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