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 reinforcements from ...
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

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.