Saint-Petersburg (THE PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS)
The first place I visited in Saint-Petersburg was THE PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS. I was so impressed that decided to know more about it. The history of St Petersburg began on a small island of the Neva where on May 16 (May 27, New Style) 1703 when the fortress foundation ceremony took place on Hare Island. The same year, on 29 June (the day of the Apostles Peter and Paul), a wooden church was begun in the centre of the unfinished fortress. The church gave its name to the fortress and later the city, which was named after its patron saint St Peter, the apostle. The new citadel was to protect the lands on the Neva recaptured from Sweden in the course of the Great Northern War (1700-1721). Hare (Zayachy) Island was chosen by Peter I because of its strategic position and small size.
It's interesting to know, that the relics of Apostle Andrew the First Called, Patron Saint of Russia, were immured in the foundation of the fortress. . The fortress was first build in wood and was later replaced, section by section, in stone by Domenico Trezzini, the new city’s first architect.The plan of fortifications forms an elongated hexagon with six bastions connected by straight walls – curtains (9 to 12 metres high and 16 to 20 metres wide) consisting of two parallel walls filled in with earth and crashed stone. Casemates were built into the curtain walls to store weapons and food, and were also used as living quarters by the garrison of the fortress. Later they were used as prison cells.
The Fortress had lost its military significance before it was completed. Its cannons never saw any action and were used as a flood warning signal. Nowadays , according to the old tradition, every day the cannon from Naryshkin bastion fires a blank shot to mark the noon time. Another bastion, Trubetskoy, reminds us of another historical role of the fortress. During the lifetime of Peter the Great it was turned into a political prison. The first prisoner was Peter’s own son, Alexei. Other famous prisoners were Russian writers, including Dostoevsky and Gorky, the leading Decembrists, revolutionaries, later – the members of the Provisional Government and Romanov Grand Dukes.
In 1922 the fortress was turned into a museum.
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