Russia St Petersburg Architecture Building Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress

Historical heart of St Petersburg. Earthen fort was laid on the basis of a plan compiled by Saxon military engineer Wilhelm Adam Kirstenstein and French engineer Joseph Gaspar Lambert de Guérin, under the general leadership of Peter the Great (16/27 May 1703). This date is regarded as the birthday of the city. The fortress was originally entitled Sankt-Piter-Boerch (Dutch: “St Peter’s Borough”). Church of St Peter and St Paul was founded (29 June 1703). First earthen Gosudarev (Sovereign), Naryshkin, Troubetzkoy, Zotov, Golovkin and Menshikov Bastions were linked by the Peter, Neva, Vasilyevsky, Nikolsky, Kronwerk and Catherine Courtines (October 1703). The Kronwerk was built to defend the approaches to the fortress on Petersburg Island from the north (1705–08). Architect Domenico Trezzini headed work on the reconstruction of the fortress in brick and stone (1706–34). A stone St Peter and St Paul Cathedral was built in the place of the old wooden church (1712–33) and Peter the Great was buried there (1725). The entrance via the Peter Courtine was established as the state entrance (1716–18). Count Burkhard Christoph von Münnich played an important role in the completion of construction, designing the St Anne Cavalier (1730–33), St John Ravelin (1731–40) and St Alexis Ravelin (1733–40). Engineer Friedrich Wilhelm Bauer lined three bastions and two courtines with granite on the river side (1779–85). Architect Nikolai Lvov rebuilt the Nevsky Gates and the Commander’s Wharf, completing the architectural design of the southern facade (1787). Besides the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral, the fortress also had a Commander’s House (1743–46), Officers’ Guardhouse (1748–49) and Engineers’ House (1748–49). The Boat House was built by architect Alexander Vist to store the boat of Peter the Great on the square before the western facade of the cathedral (1762–65). Engineer Alexander Brieskorn built an artillery arsenal (1801–02). The Mint was built inside the fortress (1800–05). Buildings intended for military establishments, treasury and the garrison were constructed in the north of the fortress (late 19th century). The Peter and Paul Fortress became known as the “Russian Bastille” – the country’s main political prison (from 18th century). The headquarters of the political police were located there. The first prisoners were Tsarevich Alexis, son of Peter the Great, and others implicated in the plot against his father (February 1718). Important political prisoners were kept in a special jail inside the St Alexis Ravelin called the Secret House (1769). The casemates of the Troubetzkoy were turned into prison cells (1870–72). A branch of the Revolution Museum was opened at the fortress (1920s). The Peter and Paul Fortress is now a historical and cultural heritage site known as the Museum of the History of St Petersburg.

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