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Home » Sights » Peter and Paul Fortress

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Peter and Paul Fortress

The Peter and Paul Fortress (Russian: Petropavlovskaya Krepost) is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706 to 1740. The fortress was established by Peter the Great on May 16 (by the Julian Calendar, hereafter indicated using "(J)"; May 27 by the Gregorian Calendar) 1703 on small Hare Island by the north bank of the Neva River. Built at the height of the Northern War in order to protect the projected capital, 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 to 1740. The fortress contains several notable buildings clustered around the Peter and Paul Cathedral (1712-1733), which has a 123.2-metre bell-tower (the tallest in the downtown) and a gilded angel-topped cupola. The cathedral is the burial place of all Russian tsars from Peter I to Alexander III. The remains of the Imperial martyrs, 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.

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