Kronstadt Fortress

Kronstadt, Russia

Kronshtadt, also spelled Kronstadt, Cronstadt is a large fortress and St. Petersburg's main seaport. Traditionally, the seat of the Russian admiralty and the base of the Russian Baltic Fleet were located in Kronstadt guarding the approaches to Saint Petersburg. The historic centre of the city and its fortifications are part of the Saint Petersburg UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The fortress was founded by Peter the Great, who took the island of Kotlin from the Swedes in 1703. Pushkin's great-grandfather, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, oversaw its construction. The first fortifications were inaugurated on 18 May 1704. These fortifications, known as Kronstadt's Forts, were constructed very quickly. During the winter the Gulf of Finland freezes completely. Workers used thousands of frames made of oak logs filled with stones. These were carried by horses across the frozen sea, and placed in cuttings made in the ice. Thus, several new small islands were created, and forts were erected on them, closing all access to Saint-Petersburg by the sea. Only two narrow navigable channels remained, and the strongest forts guarded them.

Kronstadt was thoroughly refortified in the 19th century. The old three-decker forts, five in number, which formerly constituted the principal defences of the place, and defied the Anglo-French fleets during the Crimean War, became of secondary importance. From the plans of Eduard Totleben a new fort, Constantine, and four batteries were constructed (1856–1871) to defend the principal approach, and sevenbatteries to cover the shallower northern channel. All these fortifications were low and thickly-armored earthworks, powerfully armed with heavy Krupp guns in turrets. The town itself is surrounded with an enceinte.

During the Petrograd riots of the February revolution, the sailors of Petrograd joined the revolution and executed their officers, thus gaining a reputation as dedicated revolutionaries. During the civil war, the sailors participated on the red side, until 1921, when they rebelled against the Bolshevik rule.

Kronstadt and the supporting forts and minefields were the key to the protection of Petrograd from foreign forces. Despite this, the cruiser Oleg was torpedoed and sunk by a small motor boat after participating in a bombardment of Krasnaya Gorka fort that had revolted against the Bolsheviks. This was followed on 18 August 1919 by a raid of seven Royal Navy Coastal Motor Boats into the harbor of Kronstadt itself, damaging the Soviet battleships Petropavlovsk and Andrei Pervozvanny sinking a submarine supply ship, the Pamiat Azova.

In 1921, a group of navy officers and sailors, soldiers as well as their civilian supporters rebelled against the Bolshevik government in Soviet Kronstadt. The garrison had previously been a centre of major support for the Bolsheviks, and throughout the Civil War of 1917–1921, the navy of Kronstadt had been at the vanguard of the main Bolshevik attacks. Their demands included 'freedom of speech', a stop to the deportation to work camps, a change in Soviet war politics, and liberation of the soviets (workers' councils) from 'party control'. After brief negotiations, Leon Trotsky (then the Minister of War in the Soviet Government, and the leader of the Red Army) responded by sending the army to Kronstadt, along with the Cheka. The uprising was thus suppressed.

During World War II, Kronstadt was bombed several times by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. In August 1941 the Luftwaffe began bombing Kronstadt regularly.

Until 1998, Kronstadt was a closed city, from then on it became a touristic attraction with free access to its territory.

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Founded: 1704
Category: Castles and fortifications in Russia

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Водный Мир (16 months ago)
The most beautiful Fort, it is a pity in desolation.
Дмитрий Михайлов (17 months ago)
We were at this fort on kayaks, together with the guys from # freehiker.kayaktours and the fort is interesting and the adventure is wonderful. Touched history, invaluable experience. It's a pity that they do not restore, there would be wonderful centers of attraction
Варвара Юрьевна (19 months ago)
If you manage to land in good weather - very mesmerizing
Greg D (3 years ago)
A nice adventure in a formerly closed city. Ate lunch here and dinner in Saint Petersburg.
Federico (3 years ago)
Must do when visiting St. Petersburg
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