The most compelling reason to visit the Peter and Paul Fortress is to visit the Cathedral, which houses the tombs of most modern Russian royals, starting with Peter the Great himself. The remains of the family of Nickolas II's family, including Anastasia, have recently been moved to the cathedral, although they weren't open to the public while we were there.
Besides the Cathedral, I found the Fortress to be something of a waste of time. We bought tickets to see everything, and so we did, but regretted it afterwards. My advice-- buy a ticket to the Cathedral, walk around a bit outside and spend the rest of your day elsewhere in the city.
Founded in 1703 by Peter the great, Peter and Paul's fortress is the first construction built in S.Petersburg, and around which the city has developed.
Untill the revolution,it was used primarily as a jail (it's possible to visit it) ...among the many important people who have been imprisoned here, we just recall the son of Peter, Aleksey, and Dostojevskij.
This familiar site you can see on my photo is site we saw when we arrive and last place we saw upon departure to Russian capitol. Somehow, the island and his famous fortress is not be part our organized tour guide. Our tour guide was tell us many story and facts about this place. We simply could not miss it. When we arrive on island, everything (except the island itself) was close. During white nights, you must be aware of time. Nevertheless, it was wonderful experience walking inside fortress. We take a picture a lot, chitchat with locals and other lost tourists (or simple budget travels). Even is wort of every single dime, it is very expensive country.
So, we walking around, reading the touristic information, try to remember what we hear that day from our tourist guide. Take picture and walking, and all that again.
Some lessons from history:
On May 12th 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans, and set to replacing that fortress. On May 27th1703, closer to the estuary (5 km/3 miles inland from the gulf), he build the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first stone building of the new city.
The highlight of our walking tour on Hare island is chilling on bench on Neve river and famous Neva gate (Russian: невскiя ворота) from 1787, in one period through them prisoners were taken to their execution or to Schussleburg fortress.
The main entrance is the Ioanovskie Vorota (John Gate), the only part of the fortress in its original condition from 1717-18. There are statues of Mars and Venus in niches nearby. In the fortress is the Petropavlovski Sobor (Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul) built in Dutch style from 1712 to 1721 by Trezzini, and reconstructed by Rastrelli and Chevakinski in 1750. The interior contains many important artistic works. Here are buried all the Tsars from Peter I on, except Peter II and Nicholas II. There are other interesting buildings inside the fortress, including the state mint.
The construction of Peter & Paul Fortress began in 1703, the same year that is marked as the founding of St. Petersburg. Although the fortress never saw any gunfire or attack, thousands of workers died during the construction and the fortress's grim history was perpetuated as the location of Peter the Great's torture and murder of his own son.
Peter Gate, the inner entrance to the fortress, is actually considered to be more impressive, but it was under construction during our visit. Ivan Gate, the one pictured here, was built in the 1730's. Tickets (a single ticket covers all of the sights in the fortress) are purchased just inside this gate, although the grounds themselves are free if you're interested in checking things out first. While you're walking around, don't forget to take a peek out at the Neva Gate ~ this is where the city's sun worshippers start to welcome the first rays of springtime (there's a Local Custom tip to this effect).
The cathedral was the main sight that we were interested in seeing. We considered the option of Trubetskoy Bastion (once prison for enemies of the state such as Gorky, Dostoevsky and the Decembrists), but ultimately chose to just spend our time walking around the fortress.
The cathedral was designed and construction began in 1712. Peter the Great was determined to emulate/imitate European elegance and tradition, so it was built in grand Baroque style. The spire rises 122 metres (it deliberately beats the Ivan the Great Belltower of Moscow's Kremlin) and is topped by a golden angel. The church interior continues the fancy and frilly Baroque theme ~ the chandeliers are exceedingly delicate, ornate gold-filigree decorates the room and pastel pink and green marble columns dominate.
The entry to the cathedral (during our visit, though that may have been due to restoration works on the cathedral's exterior) is through the Grand Ducal Burial Vault, an astringently white hall where relatives of the tsars were buried. Once you've had a look around, you follow a hallway to the cathedral entrance, then retrace your steps to exit the buildings.
There was a male choir performing in the Burial Vault during our visit. . .you may be not as lucky to happen upon this, but it was an amazing performance. The acoustics in the room are haunting.
The Peter & Paul Cathedral is the final resting place for many of the tsars and tsarinas. Exceptions include Nicholas II, who in 1998 was buried with his family in a chapel by the entrance, denied entry to the cathedral because their remains were mixed with those of the servants with whom they had been murdered.
Most of the tombs are in white marble, which means reading the plaques is required to figure out whose is whose. Alexander II and his wife, Maria Alexandrovna, have tombs made of coloured minerals, which are easier to spot, as is Peter the Great's, which is topped by a bust of tsar himself.
As the birthplace of the city, Peter & Paul Fortress is likely one of the spots every visitor tries to hit. It's worth noting though, that it won't take much time out of your day. . .two or three hours maximum are all that are need to truly get a feel for this small section of the city.
If you plan to visit this island, it's worth combining the trip with an exploration of Kamennoostrovskiy Prospekt and its surrounding area. Alternatively, Peter & Paul Fortress is also easily matched up with the Strelka and an wider exploration of Vasilevskiy Island (which is a lovely area to slow your pace and hit a couple of cafes).
Michael Chemiakin was born in Russia, raised in East Germany, then returned to his homeland in 1957. He was expelled from art school for creating outside of the Socialist Realist norms, following which he was forcibly interred to at a mental institution, which was standard treatment at the time.
In 1971, Chemiakin was forced out of the USSR by the Soviet authorities. He settled first in France, then moved to New York City. Post-Communist Russia finally allowed the return of Chemiakin's work, with an exhibition in 1989.
In 1991, Chemiakin gave St. Petersburg a symbol of the fallen empire ~ a statue of Peter the Great fixed in his chair. The statue, since seated in Peter & Paul Fortress, has been the cause of controversy since. . .the tiny head, modelled after a mask done by Rastrelli in 1719, is completely disproportionate to the body.
The statue is found in one of the greener areas of the fortress ~ there are actually a few benches nearby and it makes a nice place to stop off for a drink or an ice cream.
Founded in 1703, the Peter and Paul Fortress is the oldest building in the city. Peter planned it as a defense against the Swedes but defeated them before it was finished. Its main use was a political prison; famous residents included Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin's older brother. The 122 m tall, needle thin spire of the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul remains one of the defining landmarks of the city. Dont miss the gorgeous baroqe interior. All of Russia's prerevolutionary rulers from Peter the Great onward, except Peter II and Ivan VI are buried here. It covers a huge area and some of the highlights of the area include: Naryshkin Bastion, Commandant's House, Alexandrovsky Park, Museum of Political History, Peter's Cabin, Kirov Museum( home of Sergei Kirov Stalin's henchman whos bloodstained cap is on display , he was shot in the head), Sigmund Freud Museum of Dreams, Botanical Gardens to the Kirovsky Islands. The whole area has so much to offer and a full day can be easily be spent taking in the sights.
Peter and Paul can be a fun excusion for the whole family, although you should bundle up if you will be here in the winter! This picture was taken during a trip in November (yup, gets very cold and snowy here early...). The Petera nd Paul church in the middle of the fortress houses all but 3, I believe, of teh Romanov Tzars tombs, including the last tzars family. The family's remains had been hidden by the Bosheviks during the revolution and were recovered recently and intered here. Also, there are several other attractions within the fortress including a printing press exhibit that can be a great diversion for the children. The kids can make there own pictures and then see how they can be made into printing plates and have a printed version made to take home. There is a wax museum and an old prison that housed not only Peter the Great's son for awhile, but many Soviet "dissedents". I suggest also taking a walk around the top of the wall, but dreww warm if it is cold out as the wind blows hard up there. Afterwards, there is a strip of nice restaurants behind the fortress to get a cup of tea and something warm to eat.
It is on this island that on 16 may 1703 Peter the Great started the construction of St Petersburg - at least of the fortress.
While all the grounds are free, you need a ticket for the 7 museums situated inside, including the highlight - the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul with its impressive spire and Romanov imperial family tombs.
To get there, I recommend you to go on foot from the Winter Palace, pass by Strelka and enter the island by the Kronwerk bridge, then pass along Neva on the sandy beach and enter the fortress by the Nevsky Gate. (OK, this gate was mainly used to embark prisoners slated for exile or execution, but you will have time to appreciate the fortress and some great sights of Winter palace along the way...)
Placed on the southern part of the fortress and as the name tells directly facing Neva is the sober but imposing Nevski Gate. It was added later to the fortress - built between 1784-1787, when the fortress was already mainly used as a political prison.
Later, the gate was called Death Gate, as its main use was to embark the prisoners for transport to the Schlusselburg fortress. Majority never got from there alive.
In the interior of the gate, you will see the markings of different floods that plagued the city. The main cause were always the winds from the baltic, that pushed the waves of the sea upwards the Neva estuary and raised its levels.
The Peter and Paul Fortress is very important - especially for people from the italian-speaking area of switzerland, since its architect (Trezzini) had come from this area. Peter the Great commissioned it in 1703 and wanted it built along the Neva River, so as to protect the city from attack by the Sweden.
Once inside the fortress walls you can visit the Peter and Paul Cathedral (where Russian czars and emperors are buried), the St. Petersburg City History Museum, the Commandant's House and Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, where even Dpstojevskj was at one time kept captive. The cathedral is something else... inside it's all gilded and glittering.
The Fortress was built on a small island in the Neva delta on May 27th,1703, so ever since then, 27th, May, 1703, is considered St.-Petersburg foundation day.
The work on the fortress proceeded very quickly because Peter the Great expected an attack of the Swedish Navy from the Gulf of Finland. The fort is large, occupying the whole of Zayatchy (Hare) island.
In 1718 the fortress became a state political prison when Peter's 28-year old rebellious son, Alexei, was imprisoned in the Trubetskoy Bastion and beaten to death there. Alexei was the first political prisoner to be tortured to death and buried in the fortress. In 1887 Lenin's brother was imprisoned here for the attempt to kill Czar Alexander III and was later executed.
Thus, the fort originally built to protect the city, in practice became a prison for Russians, so called Russian Bastille. Its status was only changed in 1918 when it became a city museum.
Parts of the former jail are now open to the public.
In the middle of the fortress stands the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. The Cathedral was the first church in the city to be built of stone (between 1712-33)
Other buildings in the fortress include the City History Museum and the Mint, one of only two places in Russia where coins and medals are minted.
ADMISSION TO MUSEUM
All the museum's buildings are open Thursday to Monday, 11 am to 6 pm
Tuesday - 11 am to 5 pm. Ticket offices close one hour earlier.
The museum is closed on Wednesdays, but the grounds remain open.
A Museum ticket allows you to visit the Peter and Paul Cathedral (containing the tombs of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas II and other tzars) plus permanent and temporary exhibits located throughout the fortress grounds.
Tickets can be bought at the ticket office near the Ioannovsky Gate or at the Boat House near the cathedral.
From 6 pm to 7 pm, Thursday to Tuesday, admission to the Cathedral is free.