The first structure that constructed in Saint Petersburg was the Peter and Paul fortress. Thus, we can assume that even if the fortress isn't older than the city, they positively share the same birth date. The defending plans of the fortress never questioned, however, it was a military base, government office, Tzars' burial ground, illegal prison, the research center for Russian specialist, and of course, an exceptional tourist’s attraction since the beginning.
In the time that Saint Petersburg began to form in 1703, Peter the Great ordered to build a wooden fort on the north bank of the Neva River to prevent the Swedish Empire from a counter-attack for getting its lands back. However, that plans never challenged due to the Swedish Empire lack of interest of counter-attacking, but the wooden fort slowly turned into a stone fortress, from 1706 to 1740, and made the Peter and Paul Fortress that we now recognize. The Italian architecture Domenico Trezzini co-worked with military engineer Kristof Minikh to design the fortress with 12 meter high walls and hexagonal structure. The fortress shifted into the city police state and a temporary prison for high-ranked convicts, in 1720. The Trubetskoy Bastion rebuilt in 1870, to become the new prison in the fortress. This fortress which practically was state prison was very similar to the Bastille Fortress in France.
After the February Revolution in 1917, the fortress and its prison completely went under the Soviet control, and they used it as a prison for the high-rank tsarist officials. The Tsar himself threatened to be imprisoned in the fortress if he comes back to the Tsarskoye Selo. However, he came back but went under house arrest in Alexander Palace instead of the Peter and Paul fortress. Between 1918 and 1921, at least 112 person including four high-class dukes executed in the fortress. The fortress shifted into a state museum, in 1924. Regrettably, in the Second World War, during Nazi's assault of Saint Petersburg, the fortress suffered grave damages, but, repaired in the post-war campaign and became one of the top Saint Petersburg tourists' spot as of today.
The Mint at the Peter and Paul Fortress is one of the greatest of its kind in the world which Peter the Great himself established it in 1724, so it was one of the oldest industrial places in Saint Petersburg as well. This Mint still works till this day and produce coins, medals, and official's items.
The City History Museum of Saint Petersburg's headquarter placed in the fortress, and from 1938, took city museum and old museum place in Saint Petersburg. The museum called Leningrad during the Soviet rules, from 1955 to 1991. This museum which held the city history and documents from birth till the modern date includes maps, books, structure plans, and documents on all the buildings inside the Nevsky street which of course a part of it is accessible for tourist to observe. The first full exhibition of the museum held in 1957, in celebrating of Leningrad 250th anniversary. More than 1 million documents such as architectural plans, photos, old maps of the area from 18th to 20th centuries maintained in the museum, till 2002.
Aside from the Hermitage and the Mariinsky rep and popularity, The Peter and Paul Fortress doesn't have less place in Saint Petersburg as tourists' attraction than the others. This historical and recreational place with its mostly overcrowded sand beach during summer which is a relaxing place for the walruses and of course when the sand festival took place in there, brings lots of tourists to the area.
The Peter and Paul Fortress history museum which is at the west side of the Nevsky Curtain Wall provides the complete information about all the buildings in the fortress and the technology that used to build them, and of course the defending mechanism of the fortress for the visitants. In a part of this museum, there are several pictures, images, maps, and documents about the fortress and the surrounding area from the 18th century till today.
One of the most popular things in the fortress is the cannons midday shots which take place in the Naryshkin Bastion at noon. All the tourists in the area usually seek to be there to see the cannon works.
Today, Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Trubetskoy Bastion are quite popular among Peter and Paul Fortress’ visitors. Both of these places require additional tickets. We’ve covered the information about these two places in other posts, so be sure to check them since both of them are quite important in Saint Petersburg’s history book.
Generally, touring this fortress when you visit Russia would be recommended from Russia Tour agencies to tourists just like the Hermitage and Mariinsky. Undoubtedly, assigning a full day to enjoy the fortress and the beach completely wouldn't be an odd thing to do especially if the sand festivals season with their colossal sandy statues starts during the time. By the way, while you are there, be sure to check out the Military-Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps which locates right across the canal.
Peter and Paul's fortress is one of the main attractions of the city which you should visit when you travel to St. Petersburg. There are lots of information you should get before you can visit Russia if you want to have the best tour plans for your travel, which you can discover in our blog at the Star Travel Group, or you can ask Russian travel agencies to help you with preparation.