If the city of St Petersburg was likened to a grand old oak tree then the Peter and Paul Fortress would be the acorn from which it grew. Established on Zayachy Island in 1703 to secure Russia's hold on the Neva Delta, the settlement around the once-wooden citadel grew rapidly to become what would later be known as St Petersburg. Over the years the original wooden structures were replaced section by section with stone and today the fortress walls enclose a number of notable buildings including a cathedral and former prison.
Its history is a gruesome one since hundreds of forced labourers perished while constructing the fortress and its bastions were later used to guard and torture many political prisoners. Peter the Great’s own son, Alexei, was one of the first in a long line of prominent political prisoners to be held in the Trubetskoy Bastion prison, which is now a museum detailing Russian politics. There's a number of other museums within the fortress grounds including an Artillery Museum with weapons from the Stone Age to the Soviet era, and the Museum of Cosmonautics and Rocket Technology with a collection of space age technology and equipment. However, the highlight of the ancient citadel is the SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral with its magnificent 122-metre-tall spire, marbled columns and gilded iconostasis perfectly suited as the royal burial site for Russia's greatest rulers including Peter the Great himself.
The Peter and Paul Fortress is open daily from 6am to 8pm on every day of the week except Wednesday. The museums and buildings open around 10am and visitors require an individual ticket for each site they wish to visit within the grounds.
Peter and Paul Fortress is near St Petersburg. Listed below are some of our Holidays with St Petersburg