I often think about our visiting St.Peter and St.Paul's Fortress.
St.Peter and St.Paul’s Fortress stands on Zayachiy Ostrov (“Hare Island”).
Most of the visitors enter the fortress through St.Peter’s Gate. The gate is a work of art built by Domenico Tezzini in 1717-1718. It’s the only historical and architectural monument that has remained almost unchanged inside the fortress.
Until 1740 it was the main entrance to the fortress.
The gate has a unique wooden bas-relief created by Niccolo Pinean. The bas-relief depicts armor of the God of Sabaoth in the clouds.
There are other allegorical images glorifying the might of the Russian Empire.
You can see a square wooden bas-relief made by sculptor Konrad Osner in 1708. It depicts a pagan priest prostrated by Apostle St.Peter. This allegorical bas-relief expressed the omnipotence of the Czar Peter I and the people’s belief in the inevitable defeat of the Swedish King Charles XII.
Below the bas-relief you can see a lead effigy of a two-headed eagle, the coat-of-arms of the Russian Empire, that guards the archway of the gate.
Statues of ancient Roman goddesses stand in the niches of the archway: on the left is Minerva, the patroness of crafts and arts and on the right – Bellona, the goddess of war. These statues glorified the Czar as a wise military leader.
I couldn't help admiring the gate and used to stand in front of it and ponder.
While St. Petersburg in Spring and summer are beautiful, winter adds a luster to this city like none other I have ever seen. The Peter-Paul Fortress in mid December with the spire of the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral piercing the "winter blue" sky.
In the middle of December those energetic Russians where hard at work on their beloved historic "icons" EVERYWHERE!
Here in the fortress, even if you did not see them, the sound of hammers and saws alerted you that they did not see winter as a reason to delay the work at hand.
this massive brick building was built in 1860 as part of the fortifications of the peter and paul fortress. it now houses the artillery museum which has on display arms and artillery from medieval times to WWII. it also has an interesting collection of military vehicles and tanks from WWII.
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.
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.
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