Castles and fortifications in Russia

Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin, usually referred to as simply the Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil"s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves a ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Moscow, Russia

Peter and Paul Fortress

The Peter and Paul Fortress fortress was established by Peter the Great in 1703 on small Hare Island by the north bank of the Neva River, the last upstream island of the Neva delta. Built at the height of the Northern War in order to protect the projected capital from a feared Swedish counterattack, the fort never fulfilled its martial purpose. The citadel was completed with six bastions in earth and timber within a year, ...
Founded: 1703 | Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Rostov Kremlin

Rostov’s impressive Kremlin was built in the 17th century under the orders of the powerful Metropolitan Iona of Rostov. He wanted the town (which in those days still wielded some power in the region) to have one of the most beautiful Kremlins in the country and to that end he dug deep into the church"s coffers to build this imposing fortress. Nowadays within the Kremlin walls there are numerous museums, althou ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Rostov, Russia

Novgorod Kremlin

Novgorod Kremlin (Detinets) stands on the left bank of the Volkhov River. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings. The compound was originally the site of a pagan burial ground upon which the first bishop of Novgorod, Ioakim Korsunianin built the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom upon his arrival in the area in 989 or so. Thus the compound was and remained largely an ecclesia ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Kazan Kremlin

The Kazan Kremlin is the historic citadel of Tatarstan. It was built at the behest of Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the former castle of Kazan khans. The Kazan Kremlin includes many old buildings, the oldest of which is the Annunciation Cathedral (1554-62), the only 16th-century Russian church to have six piers and five apses. Like many of Kazan"s buildings of the period, it is constructed of local pale sandstone rath ...
Founded: 1556-1562 | Location: Kazan, Russia

Vyborg Castle

Vyborg Castle was one of the three major castles of Finland. It was built as the easternmost outpost of the medieval Kingdom of Sweden: it is located on the Karelian isthmus, on a little islet in the innermost corner of the Gulf of Finland. It was originally constructed in the 1290s. The town was originally located inside the outer fortifications of the castle, at the fortress island, but it had to be moved to its present ...
Founded: 1293 | Location: Vyborg, Russia

Suzdal Kremlin

The Suzdal Kremlin is the oldest part of the Russian city of Suzdal, dating from the 10th century. Like other Russian Kremlins, it was originally a fortress or citadel and was the religious and administrative center of the city. It is most notably the site of the Cathedral of the Nativity. Together with several structures in the neighboring city of Vladimir, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. While archeo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Suzdal, Russia

Izborsk Fortress

Izborsk contains one of the most ancient and impressive fortresses of Western Russia. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, the town was the seat of Rurik's brother Truvor from 862-864. Although his burial mound is still shown to occasional tourists, archaeological excavations of long barrows abounding in the vicinity did not reveal the presence of the Varangian settlement at the site, indicating that Izborsk was an ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Izborsk, Russia

Zaraysk Kremlin

As part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Zaraysk was one of the fortresses forming a part of the Great Abatis Border, a fortified line of felled trees, barricades, fortresses, ditches, which were built by Russians as a protection against the hordes of the Crimean and Kazan Tatars. In 1531, a stone kremlin was built in place of the former wooden citadel. The Tatars failed to take the fortress during their raids in 1533, 1541, ...
Founded: 1531 | Location: Zaraysk, Russia

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin

The first attempt to replace the wooden fort on the stone Kremlin in the historic city center of Nizhny Novgorod refers to 1374, but construction limited to only one tower, known as the Tower of Dmitrov (not survived to our time). Under the rule of Ivan III, Nizhny Novgorod plays the role of guard city, having a standing army, and serves as a place of military gathering troops on Moscow"s actions against Khanate of Kazan. ...
Founded: 1500 | Location: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Pskov Krom

The Pskov Krom (or Pskov Kremlin) is an ancient citadel in Pskov. In the central part of the city, the Krom is located at the junction of the Velikaya River and smaller Pskova river. The citadel is of medieval origin, with the surrounding walls constructed starting in the late 1400s. The Krom was the administrative and spiritual centre of the Pskov Republic in the 15th century. In 2010, two of the towers of seven (the Vla ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Pskov, Russia

Shlisselburg Fortress

Shlisselburg (originally Schlüsselburg or Nöteborg) was one of the most important medieval fortresses in the northwest Russia. It is located to the head of the Neva River on Lake Ladoga. Today the fortress and the city center are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first fortification was built by Swedes in 1299 but was lost to the Novgorodians in 1301. A wooden fortress named Oreshek was built by Grand Prince Yury of Mos ...
Founded: 1299 | Location: Shlisselburg, Russia

Rossgarten Gate

The Rossgarten Gate is one of seven surviving city gates of Kaliningrad. Named after the district Rossgarten, the current gate replaced a previous version of the gate from the beginning of the 17th century. It was constructed between 1852-1855 under the supervision of Wilhelm Ludwig Stürmer. The gate was damaged after the war, but restored afterwards and currently houses a café-restaurant called Solnetsnyy Kamen ('Solar ...
Founded: 1852-1855 | Location: Kaliningrad, Russia

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate of Vladimir, constructed between 1158 and 1164, is the only preserved ancient Russian city gate. A museum inside focuses on the history of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the 13th century. The Golden Gates existed in the holiest cities of Eastern Orthodoxy: Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Kiev. On making Vladimir his capital, Andrew the Pious aspired to emulate these structures, commissioning a lofty towe ...
Founded: 1158-1164 | Location: Vladimir, Russia

Tula Kremlin

In 1507 Vasily III gave the order to construct an oak fortress in Tula on the left bank of the Upa River. In 1514 in an oak fortress, like in the Moscow Kremlin, Vasily III issued an order to construct the 'stone city', built in 1520-1521. In 1552, was besieged by the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray. At that time, Tsar Ivan IV was with campaign against Kazan. Urban population fought before the arrival of reinforcem ...
Founded: 1520-1521 | Location: Tula, Russia

Alexandrov Kremlin

The tsar’s residence in the Alexandrovskaya village (also known as the Alexandrovsky Kremlin) is an old Russian fortress which served as the actual capital of the oprichnina (the period of Russian history between 1565 and 1572 during which Tsar Ivan the Terrible instituted a domestic policy of secret police, massrepressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats) in the Moscow state fr ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Aleksandrov, Russia

Staraya Ladoga Fortress

The Staraya Ladoga village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries. A multi-ethnic settlement, it was dominated by Scandinavians who were called by the name of Rus and for that reason is sometimes called the first capital of Russia. The village was referred in 862 for the first time in ancient annals concerning calling of three Varangian Rurick brothers as crisis managers for the Russia Land, ...
Founded: ca. 1114 | Location: Staraja Ladoga, Russia

Kolomna Kremlin

Kolomna Kremlin was built between 1525–1531 by the order of Vasily III to imitate the Moscow Kremlin and was equal to it in both size and beauty. On the territory of the Kolomna Kremlin there are the Dormition Cathedral (17th century), Tikhvinsky Cathedral, built in pseudo-Russian style, as well as the Novo-Golutvin and Brusensky monasteries, the Trinity Church, the Cross Cathedral and other historic buildings. Kol ...
Founded: 1525-1531 | Location: Kolomna, Russia

Ryazan Kremlin

Ryazan Kremlin, the oldest part of the city of Ryazan, is one of the oldest museums in Russia. Located on the top of a steep hill, it is surrounded by rivers and a dry moat. Human settlement on the territory of the Kremlin had occurred during the Mesolithic Era. Slavic tribes had colonized these places already by the 6th-7th centuries. Closest to the fortress of the future settlement of Borkovskoye, people on the island ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ryazan, Russia

Ivangorod Fortress

Ivangorod Fortress is a Russian medieval castle established by Moscovian Grand Prince Ivan III in 1492 and since then grown into the town of Ivangorod. The castle is strictly quadrilateral with walls 14 meters tall. The original castle was constructed in one summer. Its purpose was to fend off the Livonian Knights. The castle is strictly quadrilateral with walls 14 meters tall. Iva ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Ivangorod, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.