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Palaces and museums of St. Petersburg - Peter and Paul's Fortress

The Peter and Paul’s Fortress was established in May 1703, the third year of the Great Northern War with Sweden, which would last until 1721. Having reduced Swedish positions along the Neva River from Lake Ladoga, Peter wanted to protect Russia's position in the exit to the Baltic Sea, so that it was decided to make a fortified point in the Neva estuary. Peter the first turned his attention to a small island called Zayachy (Hare’s) Island. Being situated at the spot where the river branches out into 2 arms, the island made a good defense position and it was decided to build a new fortress there since the artillery fire of the island could bar the way to enemy ships on both the Big and Small Neva. The first stone was laid by Peter the first himself on May 16, 1703 (May 27 according to the new calendar) and since that time this day is considered to be and celebrated annually as the birthday of Petersburg.

The first name of the fortress was "Saint Peter's Burg", and then it was renamed into the Peter-and-Paul Fortress after the cathedral built on its territory. About twenty thousand men took part in building of the fortress and it was completed very fast. By the autumn of 1703 earthen emplacements had already been built, and about 2 years later, when the situation permitted, they started replacing wooden walls with stone ones. The fortress is shaped as an elongated hexagon, repeating the outlines of the island, with 6 bastions connected by straight walls, built of stone and brick. The six bastions are named Golovkin, Menshikov, Naryshkin, Trubetskoy and Zotov after the supervisors of their construction and one – after the tsar himself. From the north the fortress was protected by the Crownwork and in 1730-1740 two ravelins, named after St.Ioan and St.Alexis. The dominant feature within the Fortress is the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, designed by Domenico Trezzini in a radical departure from traditional Russian church architecture. In 1740 it was converted into a political prison. It should be noted that the fortress was never used for any military purposes except for the October revolution of 1917, when the Fortress put its gun to use. After the revolution the fortress was turned into the museum.



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