The Petropavlovsk fortress is located on the isolated island called the Rabbit Island which is the oldest monument in St. Petersburg. The fortress is the first building ever built in this city. The first stone of the future fort was laid on May 27th 1970 and this date is regarded as an anniversary date of Saint Petersburg. The fortress is of a pentagonal shape spanning the entire island. The purpose of the fortress was to defend the city from the Swedish invasion. The court architect Domenico Trezzini was in charge of supervising the completion of the fortress. The fortress consisted of six bastions that were interconnected. The bastions were initially built of wood, but in 1706, they have all been replaced and rebuilt in stonework. Although conceived as a defensive fortress at the time, many doubted in its effectiveness in the event of the genuine invasion.
The Petropavlovsk fortress was also a notorious prison of the former Russian empire, and it served as the headquarters of the secret police . The first prisoner in there was the son of Peter the Great, young Prince Aleksey, who was arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of plotting against the emperor. Alexei was brutally torture and he eventually died in prison before the date of his execution. Later on, mainly political opponents of the emperor regime were brought here, as well as the members of the revolutionary movement that fought against the Royal dynasty. The most famous persons who were captured here were Dostoevsky, Maksim Gorki, Trotsky and others. At the beginning of the October Revolution, the fortress was used by Bolsheviks who bombed the Winter Castle from the fortress in 1917. After the revolution, a decision was made to turn the whole fort into a museum . In the present complex of the fort, there are several museums and a large cathedral of St. Peter and Paul (one of the highest Orthodox churches in the world) and the Mint - the oldest coinery in Russia.
The first building built within the fortress was Saint Peter and Paul’s Cathedral. The golden spire of the bell tower reaches the height of 123 meters. On its top, there is a sculpture of an angel holding a cross (the angel itself is one of the most potent symbols of Saint Petersburg, and the copy of this angel can be seen at one of the museums of the fortress).
Today, this Orthodox Christian Holy temple contains tombs of almost all Russian emperors (the Romanov family) from Peter the Great to Nicolay II.
Sights and museums within the fortress