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Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul FortressDate of creation: 1706 - 1733.
The author: D. Trezzini
Location: Saint Petersburg

The Peter and Paul Fortress is architectural and historical centre of Saint-Petersburg. The fortress was designed to protect the Neva lands that were won from the Swedes during the Northern War (1700 - 21). Its powerful stone walls rising almost out of the water, and the cathedral spire soaring into the skies, make up a unique view opening from afar as a part of the wide Neva panorama.

A Neva island called Zayachy (Hare) or Vesioly (Cheerful) was chosen as a construction site; its location was unique from the military point of view. The wide, deep Neva served to protect the fortress, while the latter, in its turn, was covering the entrance to the Neva from the Gulf of Finland. The whole island built up because of its small size.

On 16 May (27 May, New Style), 1703, the foundation of the fortress was laid, that was to be named Saint-Petersburg. This day is considered to be the day when the city got its start. The city was soon named after the fortress, Saint-Petersburg. Meanwhile the fortress acquired the name of Peter and Paul (after the name of the cathedral built there).

Construction of the earthen and wooden fortifications was completed by the autumn of 1703. The outlines of the fortress depended on the shape of the island proper; it was designed in the shape of an elongated hexagon with six projecting bastions. In 1706 they started to rebuild the wooden fortress in stone; the reconstruction lasted till 1740. This work was entrusted to D.Trezzini, the forts fortifier and architect of the new capital.

The Peter and Paul Fortress was put up for fortification purposes; however, it had never been used as such. Beginning from 1718 it was turned into a prison for political convicts. Since 1924 Peter and Paul Fortress has been a museum.
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a unique sample of Russian 18th-century architecture that has reached us. Its grand multi-tier belfry with a gilt spire is an architectural dominant of the city, an integral part of its silhouette. The Peter and Paul Cathedral had for almost two centuries served as a burial-place for Russian emperors. This was done at the order of Peter I, who is himself buried at the southern wall of the cathedral.

For a long time the cathedral had performed the functions of the museum of Russian military glory, where enemy banners, keys of the cities and fortresses captured by Russian troops were kept. In the early 20th century all the trophies were transferred to museums. The cathedral now holds replicas of captured Swedish and Turkish banners. The building, topped with a dome and a bulbous cupola is perceived as an integral part of the cathedral. In front of the entrance a fence was put up, designed on the model of the Summer Gardens railing.

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