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Peter and Paul Fortress

7  i 8

Peter and Paul Fortress



Peter and Paul fortress is one of the main attractions of Saint Petersburg. This is a unique military, historical and architectural landmark, which was founded in 1703 - the year of the city establishment.
The main purpose of the fortress was to protect lands, which were arduously recovered from Sweden during the Great Northern War. The fortress was built hastily as Peter I was concerned of possible Swedes' aggression. The Emperor personally managed all the construction works and to facilitate the process ordered to drive to the Neva banks all peasants, soldiers and even convicts. Work conditions were dreadful, many people died, going under cold, hunger and numerous diseases, nevertheless, the fortress was built in unprecedented short time.
However, Peter and Paul fortress never fulfilled its main purpose - over the entire history of its existence it has never been used to protect the city from enemies' attacks. Foreign vessels had no chance of getting here as back areas of Saint Petersburg was securely protected by the fortress in Kronstadt, which was also built by order of Peter I. As things with military career of the fortress went not the way they were expected, for 200 years it was a political prison, and in early 20th c in the times of Alexander I it was for the first time opened for public and people went sightseeing therein.
The dominant element of the architectural ensemble of the fortress is the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the renowned spire thereof. Approximately 8 kg of red gold was used for gold-plating of the spire. The cathedral was one of the first buildings laid down in the fortress, initially, it was made of wood. As late as 1712-1733 it was rebuilt of stone and the fortress was named after Peter and Paul as the cathedral itself. Since 1924 the museum is located in the building of the cathedral
Moreover, the architectural ensemble also includes defense constructions: fortress walls, curtain walls, strongholds and ravelins; Peter's grand gate, decorated with the bas-relief Apostle Peter Casts Down Simon Magus by Conrad Ossner; the Boathouse, where the exact replica of Peter the Great's boat, grandfather of the Russian navy, is kept (the original is currently kept in the Central Naval Museum); the Mint; the Engineering House; the Commandant's House; Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, etc.
Every day a cannon fires a blank shot from the Naryshkin Bastion, and each year on the 27th of May festive events are held in Peter and Paul fortress to celebrate the City Day.


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