Peter and Paul's Fortress - the heart of St. Petersburg
From the 10th century Neva river on which St.Petersburg was founded, is a part of important trade way. This trade way links Black sea, Caspian sea and Baltic sea; it links different parts of Russia and Russia with European countries. In the early 17th century Sweden took this land. Russia during 90 years was land-locked from the sea. Peter the Great started the Northern War against Sweden. Two years later russian army took back the Neva delta region, and gained control of the Baltic Sea. The war was in progress and in order to maintain Russian ascendancy on the Baltic Sea, Peter established a fortress, named Sankt-Petersburg on a small island in the delta of Neva river close to the Gulf of Finland. The day of the foundation of the fortress is considered the day of the foundation of the city of St.Petersburg. Later was constructed St.Peter and St.Paul's Cathedral and the fortress was renamed in Peter and Paul's Fortress.
The construction of the fortress proceeded very quickly because the war continued and Peter the Great expected an attack of Swedish Navy from the Gulf of Finland. The tzar found extremely important place for the fortress because there was no way for Navy from the Gulf without passing the fortress.
But Peter and Paul's Fortress was never attacked, lost it's military signification and from 1718 the fortress became a state political prison. Among the first prisoners was Peter's son Alexej who had been involved in a plot against his father. Alexej was kept in the walls of the fortress and was tortured to death and buried in the Cathedral of St.Peter and St.Paul of the fortress. Russian Bastille changed it's status only after Revolution in 1924 when it became a city museum.
St.Peter and St.Paul's Cathedral is located in the centre of the Fortress. It is the heighest architectural construction in the city, it's height is 122,5 m (366FT). The Cathedral played the prime role in the religious and political life of Russia since the foundation of St.Petersburg.
It was also a burial place of the imperial family. 200 years all Russian rulers form Peter the Great to Nickolas II (except Peter II and Ivan IV) and their families were buried here. The idea of burying rulers in a church was based on the idea of divine rule, which was widespread in all Christian countries. The ashes of the last imperial family (Nickolas II, Alexandra, their daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and son Alexej), who had been murdered in 1918, were transferred to the Cathedral in 1998 and reburied inside.
Cathedral is opened: every day, 10.00 - 20.00
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