Peter the Great Fortress
Peter the Great Naval Fortress was created to defend Petrograd in the Gulf of Finland. But most of the facilities were blown up by retreating Russian troops.
Naval Fortress of Peter the Great is a complex of defensive structures, created during the First World War in the narrowest point of the Gulf of Finland. The fortress stretches from the Moonsund Archipelago to the Northern capital to protect the city in the event of a German offensive. Today the remains of this grandiose project on the scale and implementation are on the territory of Estonia and Finland. It is estimated by historians that about 40 sites have survived in Tallinn, conventionally divided into sea and land fronts.
The remains of the constructions were used in the following world wars
About a dozen batteries and freestanding gun positions belong to the naval front. The land front of the fortress is:
- artillery batteries,
- trenches, dugouts, shelters, underground passages,
- underground and aboveground warehouses for storing weapons and ammunition,
- communication lines, special facilities,
- railroad, several stations, a bridge,
- seaplane hangars, an airfield,
- military and residential buildings, a casino and a laboratory.
Maritime Museum in Tallinn
History of the Fortress of Peter
The history of the Peter the Great Naval Fortress is sad. When the Germans occupied the province of Estonia without a fight, the Russian troops had to retreat back to Königsberg and destroy the coastal and land defenses. Most of the batteries never fired a single shot.
Nevertheless, the significance of the fortress for the Estonian statehood cannot be overestimated. Some of the coastal batteries restored after 1918 on Aegna Island were used to defend Estonia against Nazi shelling in August 1941. Weapon factories emerged on the basis of the fortress, which still carry out state orders. Estonians are proud of the world’s largest narrow-gauge locomotive depot, the icebreaker Suur Tõll, which managed to defend the Soviet fleet in the winter of 1918. It is believed that the history of the fortress is directly linked to the emergence of Estonian independence.
The Naval Museum “Flying Harbor” is one of the main sightseeing points of the fortress. The exhibition is divided into three levels: above-water, underwater and air. Here you can see one of the oldest ships in the country from the 16th century, visit the submarine “Lembit”, visit the seaplane. Guests of Tallinn are certainly welcome to visit the icebreaker Suur Tõll with a walk on deck, a visit to the engine room and a sailor’s lunch in the galley.
To visit the fortress of Emperor Peter the Great is better with an organized tour. Tour operators offer a one-day trip lasting from 3 to 7 hours, which includes a visit:
- the museum “Flying Harbor”,
- The icebreaker Suur Tyl,
- the submarine “Lembit”,
- the battery prison,
- the tunnel ammunition depots,
- infantry shelters,
- blown up and surviving coastal artillery positions at Cape Suurupi.
The tour often includes a boat ride with lunch and a photo shoot.
The cost of this tour with a minibus transfer is 80 EUR for a group of 4 persons. Entrance ticket to the maritime museum and the icebreaker costs 14 EUR per person, the ticket for a family of 4 people – 28 EUR.
Self-guided travelers can go to Naissaar Island, one of the key strongholds of the maritime front. From May to September the riverboats “Monika” from the port of Lenussadam call here. In the 6 hours between trips tourists have the opportunity to visit the catacombs, visit the mine factory, the military museum, the officers’ casino, ride the train on the narrow gauge railroad. For those who prefer to hike, there are trails of varying length. Naissaar can book tours on the Internet. The island has an official website.
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is one of the oldest military engineering structures of St. Petersburg. With its construction, in fact, and began the birth of the city. It is listed as a branch of the Museum of History and is located on the banks of the Neva, on Hare Island. Its construction began in 1703 at the suggestion of Peter I and led by Prince Alexander Menshikov.
This fortification construction “has grown” with the purpose of protection of the Russian lands from the Swedes in the Northern War, which took place in the VIII century and lasted for 21 years. Already until the end of 19th century many buildings were built here: church, in which later were arranged burial vault, bastions, curtain walls, etc. At one time the most real guns were located here. The walls are 12 m high and about 3 m thick.
In 1706 there was a serious flood in St. Petersburg, and since most of the fortifications were wooden, they were simply washed away. The authors of the project had to rebuild everything again, but with the use of stone. These works were completed only after the death of Peter I.
In 1870-1872 the castle was reconstructed. Peter and Paul Fortress was reconstructed into a prison, where numerous prisoners, including the heir to the Russian throne Tsarevich Alexey, Bestuzhev, Radishchev, Tyutchev, General Fonvizin, Shchedrin and others served their sentences. In 1925. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which appeared instead of the old wooden church of St. Peter and Paul, received the status of a museum. In spite of this the services in it were renewed only in 1999.
Description of museum complex
Engineering House . Its name speaks for itself – formerly it housed rooms of the officials of the Serf Engineering Administration and a drawing studio. This small house has only one floor and is painted in orange, so it is visible from afar. Inside is an exhibition hall with an antique exhibit.
Bot House . It was named after the fact that one of the rooms contains the boat of Peter the Great. It was built in Baroque and Classicist style with a half-arch roof, which is crowned with a statue of a woman by the architect and sculptor David Jensen. There is also a souvenir store where you can buy magnets, plates and other things with a picture of the fortress.
Commandant’s House . There is an interesting exhibit called “History of St. Petersburg,” which includes vintage dresses worn on mannequins, photographs of the city, paintings, various sculptures and interior furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Bastions . There are 5 of them in total, the youngest of them being the Sovereign’s. In 1728, on the territory of the Peter and Paul Fortress opened the Naryshkin Bastion, where to this day stands a cannon, from which, without missing a day, at midnight one shot is fired. The other bastions – Menshikov, Golovkin, Zotov and Trubetskoy – were at one time a prison for prisoners, a kitchen for the clerks of the commandant’s office and a barracks. Some of them are faced with brick, while others are tiled.
Curtains . The most famous of these is the Nevskaya, built to the design of Domenico Trezzini. Here the two-storey casemates of the times of tsarist power are recreated with high precision. It is adjoined by the Nevsky Gate. The complex also includes Vasilievskaya, Catherine’s, Nikolskaya and Petrovskaya curtain wall. It used to house combined arms battalions, and now hosts numerous exhibitions.
Mint – coins for Russia, Turkey, the Netherlands and other countries were minted here. Today in this building there is a factory for the production of various medals, awards and decorations.
Peter and Paul Cathedral – this is where members of the royal family were buried – Alexander II and his wife, the princess of the House of Hesse and the Russian empress, Maria Alexandrovna. Of particular interest is the iconostasis, designed in the form of a festive arch. In its center is a gateway with sculptures of the great apostles. It is said that the height of the spire is as high as 122 m. In 1998 the remains of members of the family of Nicholas II and the emperor himself were transferred to the tomb. The ensemble is completed by a bell tower, which contains the largest collection of bells in the world. They are located in a tower decorated with gilding, a large clock, and a sculpture of an angel.
Gates . The most famous of them, the Nevsky Gate, welcomes guests between the Naryshkin and the Gosudar Bastion and is built in the style of classicism. They are interesting for their massive light columns, imitating the Roman ones. Once upon a time unhappy prisoners were sent through them to be executed. There are also Vasilevsky, Kronverk, Nikolsky and Petrovsky gates.
Ravelins . In the Alekseevsky Ravelin during the tsarist regime was a dungeon, where political prisoners were imprisoned. The Glushko museum of cosmonautics and rocket technology, as well as its cashier’s office are in the St. John’s Ravelin.
In one of the courtyards of Peter and Paul Fortress stands a monument to Peter the Great on a pedestal, surrounded by a railing.
Secrets and myths
The most famous secret of Peter and Paul Fortress is that at midnight from one of the bastions shot the ghost of the deceased Peter I. It is also said that all the tombs in the tomb are empty. There is another sinister rumor that once a certain ghost liked to roam the corridors of the fortress. Presumably, it was a digger who died during the construction of the structure. It is known that he fell from a great height right into the strait. The mysterious figure stopped appearing only after one of the eyewitnesses crossed the ghost and waved the Bible away.
The superstitious will also be interested to know that there have been cases of passing toothache when touching the tomb of Paul I, which is considered sacred. The last, and most unusual, legend says that there are graves of Russian Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family resting entirely different people.
Useful Tips for the Tourist
- Working hours are from 11.00 to 18.00 every day except for the 3rd day of the week. Entrance to the territory is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. all week.
- The location address – St. Petersburg, Hare Island, Peter and Paul Fortress, 3. 3.
- Transport – near the Peter and Paul Fortress run buses number 183, 76 and 223, streetcar number 6 and number 40. Nearby is the metro station “Gorkovskaya”.
- To enter the walls of the fortress is free, and to enter the Peter and Paul Cathedral, you will need to pay 350 rubles for adults, and 150 rubles less for students and schoolchildren. There is a 40% discount for pensioners. The ticket to other buildings costs about 150 rubles for adults, 90 rubles for students and 100 rubles for pupils. – for students and pupils and 100 rubles for pensioners. – for pensioners. The cheapest way is to go up to the belfry.
For example, if you want to visit the Peter and Paul Fortress in the evening, you don’t have to visit it in person, but if you want to see the fortress in person, it will be much more interesting to see how beautiful and interesting the photos in the Internet would be! This building in St. Petersburg did not get the status of a museum for nothing, and every year it receives thousands of enthusiastic visitors.