FORTRESS of PETER
The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded in May 1703. The first parapets
were of earth, but it quickly mounted 300 cannon. In 1706 construction of
replacement works of brick commenced. The work was to require 35 years.
Domenico Trezzini was the architect-engineer. The walls were 12 meters high.
During the reign of Catherine II the walls were refaced with granite. Here is a
diagram of the fortress as it appeared. Here we view
from the Neva River. The
fortress and Neva viewed from inside Naryshkin bastion. This view is from
the rampart facing the opposite direction, the dock
is between the bastions. With the fortification of Kronstadt and the other
islands in the Gulf the fortress lost its importance. It then was converted to
a military prison, housing many famous personages from Tsarevich Alexei on.
Another view of the fortress.
The main entrance is the Ioanovskie Vorota (John Gate), the only part of
the fortress in its original condition from 1717-18. The bas-reliefs designed
by Konrad Osner represent the story of Peter defeating Simon the sorcerer.
There are statues of Mars and Venus in niches nearby. The other principal gate
is the Nevski Vorota (Neva Gate) through which prisoners were taken to
their execution or to Schussleburg fortress.
Embrasures from casements in the Naryshkin bastion adjacent to the dock
from which prisoners were taken for execution at Schusselburg (Oreshek).
In the fortress is the Petropavlovski Sobor (Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul) built in Dutch style from 1712 to
1721 by Trezzini, and reconstructed by Rastrelli and Chevakinski in 1750. The interior is spectacular and contains many important
artistic works. Here are buried all the Tsars from Peter I on, except Peter II
who died of smallpox while in Moscow so was burried there. There are other
interesting buildings inside the fortress, including the state mint. To the
north the fortress had a hornwork or outer line of fortification. This now
contains the Museum of Artillery, Engineer, and Signal Troops, founded by Peter
I. To see this hornwork as it is now go to
Artillery museum. On the
opposite side of the fortress is the original cottage of Peter I, built in 3
days in 1703. Peter lived here during the summer, while supervising
construction, until the original Summer Palace was built across the river.
Nearby is the mooring of the cruiser Aurora, which
fired a blank shot at the start of the attack on the Winter Palace in 1917.
Immediately to the west, downstream, from the fortress is Vasilyevski Ostrov. On the eastern tip, Strelka, are the
Central Naval Museum in the former stock exchange, the customs house, and
several parts of the Academy of Sciences. Next along the embankment is the
university. The large white building is the Menshikov Palace, the first stone
building in St. Petersburg, dating from 1707. We have more photos taken during
our tour in 2005