The Peter and Paul Fortress

, updated on June 20, 2013
Peter and Paul Fortress St.Petersburg

The Peter and Paul Fortress is a simbol of St.Petersburg and one of the few remaining fortresses of the 18th century, the burial place of Russian emperors, as well as a former political prison of Russia. It was the one the history of St. Petersburg began with. On the teretorry of Zayachy Island, where the fortress stand on, just behind its wall, recided the main beach of the city. You can enjoy the marvellous view on Neva River and Hertitage from there, but swimming is forbidden at the moment.

How the story began

As a result of the Russian Army victory, Russia got access to the Baltic Sea located strategically for the state security and economic development. To protect his territories, the emperor Peter I built a fortress on the island at the mouth of the Neva River, where it splits into sleeves, and called it St. Petersburg.

It was designed by the great monarch together with Lambert de Guerin (fortification architect) and Wilhelm Kirshtenshteynom, a Saxon engineer. Further fortress redevelopment was supervised by the famous Domenico Trezzini. The fortress is hexagon shaped with 6 bastions connected by the walls called curtains. The bastions were after Peter I and his closest.

The bastion walls are about 20 meters thick and 12 meters high – they were used as a basement for canon rampart and accommodation for the garrison. After Peter I death, during the reign of Empress Anna Ivanovna in 1733 – 1734, Alexei’s and Ioann’s Ravelins were built to protect the curtain gates from artillery fire, separated from the fortress with ditches and buried later in 19th century.

Peter and Paul Fortress Saint Petersburg

Peter and Paul Fortress, View from Neva Embankment

Peter and Paul Fortress – the political prison of Russia

Although the Peter and Paul Fortress was intended to protect, it is renown as a political prison. Its first prisoner was Tsarevich Alexei, the son of Peter I, accused of conspiracy. In 18th century the fortress hosted Alexander Radishchev, Count Ostermann (an associate of Peter I), Regent Ernest Biron, Princess Tarakanova (false daughter of Empress Elizabeth).

Initially, prisoners were kept in the dungeons of the fortress, then a prison in the Alexis was built and called the Secret House. However, those arrested were kept in other dungeons of the fortress. In 1825 a fortress hosted the Semenov regiment soldiers, in 1825 – the Decembrists, in 1849 – Fyodor Dostoevsky.

After the Alexis Ravelin was destroyed, a new jail consisting of 69 single cells was built in the Trubetskoy Bastion – solely for political prisoners confinement and conditions being extremely harsh. About 1500 prisoners as total were kept in the fortress.

The February Revolution of 1917 brought royal ministers imprisoned in the Trubetskoy Bastion, the October Revolution – the Temporary Government members.

Entrance to the Peter and Paul Fortress

You come to the Peter and Paul Fortress the Ioanovski bridge – one of the oldest wooden bridges in St. Petersburg. Entering through the gate in the Ioanovski ravelin brings you to the courtyard formed by the Peter ravelin and a wall, where you can find ticket offices, gift-shops and fast food cafes.

You can get from the courtyard to the fortress only via the triumphal Peter’s gate built by Domenico Trezzini – with the statues of Greek goddesses decorating niches and a double-headed eagle (the symbol of Russia) decorating the arch.

Peter and Paul Fortress Gates

Entrance Gates

The fortress buildings and layout

To see the plan of the territory use Interactive map of the fortress

Ramparts

Naryshkin bastion (St. Catherine) – the bastion was originally intended to house the Mint, but was handed over to the troops later on. Since the beginning of 18th century a midday shot  has been made daily from the Naryshkin bastion.

Zotov bastion – in 18th century its casemates were used for prisoners’ rooms, the Secret Police and the Garrison offices, and as an archive of the Main Treasury.

Sovereign bastion – was built under personal supervision of Peter 1 and used to  house workshops, powder magazines, barracks, and a lazaret.

Menshikov bastion – hosted the first St. Petersburg pharmacy, workshops, a blacksmith shop, the garrison facilities, and the Secret Police offices.

Trubetskoy bastion – the bastion housed the Mint since 1724 in, part of the casemates were used as a lockup by the Secret Police. In 1870, one of the walls was demolished, and a prison was built to replace it.

Golovkin bastion – hosted artillery batteries and an armory.

All bastions are connected with curtains (i.e. ramparts, walls): Vasilievskaya, Ekaterininskaya, Kronwerkskaya, Nevskaya, Nikolskaya and Petrovskaya.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is famous for being a burial place of the Russian emperors. It was built under the supervision of Trezzini to replace the wooden Peter and Paul Apostles’ Church and was consecrated in 1733. The Bell Tower enjoys a gilded spire with an angel high atop used as a weathercock. Early in 20th century St. Alexander Nevsky Church was built next to the cathedral to become a new imperial sanctuary and give rest to 13 members of the royal family.

Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peter and Paul Cathedral

Ceiling in Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Commandant’s House

Built by J. de Marina for the commandant and his family in the mid-18th century.

The Mint

The Mint of Russia buildings are stone fenced on their North, West and East. It was designed by Antonio Porto and approved by the Emperor Paul I. Today, the Mint in the fortress is the only one producing coins in Russia.

The Engineering House

In 19th century it was used as living quarters of the Engineering Department staff and as drawing workshops. The famous writer Fyodor Dostoevsky used to work there for a while.

The Boat House

The house was built to store Peter I small boat, which he used to learn sailing when a boy. The Boat House hosts a copy of the boat, its original is kept in the Naval Museum.

The Artillery Armory

The armory was built early in 19th century to accomodate the artillery team, then an archive, a fire station; it was also used for military training.

The Chief Officer Guardhouse

Was built for officers’ detention.

The Carriage House

Was built in the mid of 18th century and used as stables.

Neva River St.Petersburg

View from the beach of Peter and Paul Fortress

Admission fees

Open daily from 06:00 to 21:00. Information centers open from 10:00 to 17:30.

On Wednesday some expositions may be closed – please, call to double-check.

Admission to the fortress is free.

Single ticket for four exhibitions:

adult – 390 rubles, students – 170 rubles.

Single ticket to the Peter and Paul Cathedral:

adult – 220 rubles, students – 100 rubles.

Contacts

Address: 3 Petropavlovskaya krepost 197046 St Petersburg

Getting there: on foot from the subway station: “Gorkovskaya”;

by public transport from the subway station “Sportivnaya” – by tram 6, 40

Phone: +7 812 230 64 31

Website: www.spbmuseum.ru

Translation by Svetlana Serebryakova

About Elena Sjo

Hello! I was born in St.Petersburg and this is the city I love the most!

6 Comments

  1. Frank M.

    June 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Lots to see. You can spent several hours here especially in the summer time.

  2. Nina

    September 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Just back from my long holiday in Russia, and i must say this is one of the spots i liked the most. Also my son was happy to see big sand sculptures exhibition, people say they organize it every summer. Recommended!

  3. David

    September 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Hello,
    I just found this forum – sorry if this is being posted improperly.
    I am looking for information about the 3 extant boats of Peter the Great, specifically their current location in Russia, and which museums have custody of them. I am a model maker and am looking for measured drawings, or lines and offsets, along with construction details that would allow a museum quality plank on frame model to be accurately constructed. I am specifically looking for information on the smallest of the 3 boats attributed to Peter the Great, the boat that is associated with the cottage built for him at the beginning of the construction of St. Petersburg. I have read that the boat is housed there, in the Cottage Museum of Peter the Great, however I called the museum and they informed me that there is no boat there.
    Thanks to all who can help!

  4. Solly

    April 7, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Hi,
    I’d like to know if I could walk from Gorkovskaya directly to Peter and Paul Fortress?
    How long would it take?
    Many thanks!

    Sol

    • Polina Polyakova

      April 7, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Solly!
      Gorkovskaya is the nearest to the fortress metro station. And it is 5-10 minutes walking. Have a great time in St Pete!

  5. Solly

    April 8, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks a lot Polina!

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