What You Will See on the Peter and Paul Fortress Tour
- The Peter and Paul Fortress, the city’s historical core, is a unique architectural and artistic complex. It is a birthplace of St. Petersburg, situated on Hare Island, in the very center of the delta of the Neva River.
- The day when the construction of an earthen fortress began, marked the starting point of the entire history of St. Petersburg. The first fortification structures, walls and bastions were built according to sketches by Peter the Great and the French engineer Lambert.
- On 29 June 1703, on the feast day of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a church was founded on Hare Island tress has six bastions, six curtain walls between bastions and six gates.
- The central part of the iconostasis resembles a triumphal arch, a symbol celebration of the glorious victory of the Russian Empire to receive an access to the Baltic Sea.
- The design of the cathedral combines traditions of western religious architecture and ancient Russian church design. You will see both carved gilded iconostasis and a gilded carved pulpit for the preacher.
- The belfry together with the gilded spire and figure of an Angel, the guardian of the city, stands at a height of 122.5 meters. It is used to be the tallest landmark in St Petersburg.
Peter the Great invited his favorite architect Domenico Trezzini to be responsible of the design of St Peter and St Paul Cathedral and to put into effect the tsar’s dream of construction of the tallest landmark in the new Russian capital.
The interiors of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral draw your attention with its unique gilded carved iconostasis created on the orders of Peter the Great in Petrine Baroque Architectural Style.
The Cathedral of Peter and Paul served as a burial place of Russian monarchs and members of the Royal Family since Peter’s reign. In 1725 the founder of St Petersburg, Emperor Peter the Great was buried there. His tombstone marked with a bronze sculpture representing Peter the Great bust.
History of the Fortress and Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter the Great himself chose this islet as a site for building a citadel in 1703. It was there that the heart of St Petersburg started to beat and a firm foundation for the sea gate of Russia was laid.
Construction works were supervised by the Tsar and his closest associates. Their names were given to the bastions of the Peter and Paul Fortress: the Tsar’s, Menshikov, Golovkin, Zotov, Trubetskoi and Naryshkin.
Peter the Great invited his favorite architect Domenico Trezzini to be responsible of the design of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral and to put into effect the tsar’s dream of construction of the tallest landmark in the new Russian capital.
At the end of the 18th century the entire fortress was dressed in granite. A signal tower and flagpole for a special fortress standard were placed on the Naryshkin Bastion, which also became the site for the cannon fired every day at noon, old time’s tradition that has been preserved to present days.
The Peter and Paul Fortress on the Neva was not destined to play an active defensive part in the history of the city. Soon after its construction the fortress was converted into a political prison which went into the history as Russian “Bastille”
Tour to the Peter and Paul Fortress and Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral lasts 1.5 hours and during this time you will see and know:
- who was the first prisoner of the Peter and Paul Fortress and learn what a famous Russian writer had been kept in its walls before he was sent to the execution
- stone tombs of the Romanovs and will be told why two of them differ from the others.
- tragic story of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II and learn why St Catherina Chapel became the final resting place for Nicholas II and his Family
- Naryshkin bastion and if you are lucky enough you will hear the noon cannon-shot that shocks everyone who wasn’t informed about it in advance