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, and it was rebuilt in stone from 1706-1740.
From around 1720, the fort served as a base for the city garrison and also as a prison for high-ranking or political prisoners. The Trubetskoy bastion, rebuilt in the 1870s, became the main prison block. The first person to escape from the fortress prison (now an important destination for tourists) was the anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in 1876. Other people incarcerated in the 'Russian Bastille' include Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, Artemy Volynsky, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Alexander Radishchev, theDecembrists, Grigory Danilevsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Bakunin, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Leon Trotsky and Josip Broz Tito.
During the February Revolution of 1917, it was attacked by mutinous soldiers of the Pavlovskii regiment and the prisoners were freed. Under the Provisional Government hundreds of Tsarist officials were held in the Fortress. The Tsar was threatened with being incarcerated at the Fortress on his return from Mogilev to Tsarskoe Selo, but the threat was not followed through and he was placed under house arrest.
On October 25 1917 the Fortress again quickly came into Bolshevik hands. Following the ultimatum from the Petrograd Soviet to the Provisional Government ministers in the Winter Palace, after the blank salvo of the Cruiser Aurora at 21.00, the guns of the Fortress fired 30 or so shells at the Winter Palace. Only two actually hit, inflicting minor damage, and the defenders refused to surrender– at that time. At 02.10 on the morning of October 26 the Winter Palace was taken by forces under Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, the captured ministers were taken to the Fortress as prisoners.
In 1924, most of the site was converted to a museum. In 1931, the Gas Dynamics Laboratory was added to the site. The structure suffered heavy damage during the bombardment of the city during WW II by the German army who were laying siege to the city. It has been faithfully restored post-war.
The fortress contains several notable buildings clustered around the Peter and Paul Cathedral (1712–1733), which has a 123.2 m bell-tower (the tallest in the city centre) and a gilded angel-topped cupola. The cathedral is the burial place of all Russian tsars from Peter I to Alexander III, with the exception of Peter II and Ivan VI. The remains of Nicholas II and his family and entourage were also interred there, in the side St. Catherine"s Chapel, on the 80th anniversary of their deaths, July 17, 1998. Towards the end of 2006, the remains of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna were brought from Roskilde Cathedral outside Copenhagen to finally rest next to her husband, Alexander III.
The newer Grand Ducal Mausoleum (built in the Neo-Baroque style under Leon Benois"s supervision in 1896-1908) is connected to the cathedral by a corridor. It was constructed in order to remove the remains of some of the non-reigning Romanovs from the cathedral where there was scarcely any room for new burials. The mausoleum was expected to hold up to sixty tombs, but by the time of the Russian Revolution there were only thirteen. The latest burial there was of Nicholas II"s first cousin once removed, Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrilovich (1992). The remains of his parents, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich and his wife Viktoria Fyodorovna, were transferred to the mausoleum from Coburg in 1995.
Other structures inside the fortress include the still functioning mint building (constructed to Antonio Porta"s designs under Emperor Paul), the Trubetskoy and Alekseyevsky bastions with their grim prison cells, and the city museum. According to a centuries-old tradition, a cannon is fired each noon from the Naryshkin Bastion. Annual celebrations of the city day (May 27) are normally centered on the island where the city was born.
The sandy beaches underneath the fortress walls are among the most popular in St. Petersburg. In summer, the beach is often overcrowded, especially when a major sand festival takes place on the shore.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.