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The Peter and Paul Fortress is a citadel originally built as a bastion fort on Hare Island, also known as Zayachy Island, by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. It was designed by the great Swiss architect Domenico Trezzini.

The fortress was founded as a military citadel during the Great Northern War, which lasted from 1700 to 1721. Peter the Great had a splendid cathedral built within; it was here that he wanted his remains and those of his successors buried. He also ordered the building of a court palace, a courthouse and prisons, located in the Trubetskoy bastion.

Engraved on the foundation stone of the Fortress, laid by the tsar on May 27, were the words: "In the year of grace 1703, the city of St. Petersburg was built by the Tsar and Grand Duke Pëtr Alekseevič, Emperor of all Russia”. It was this building that formed the original core of the city.

The citadel is also infamous for its prisons. During the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century, opponents of the tsar described it as a hellish place, where thousands of prisoners were held in dirty, overcrowded rooms, subjected to torture and suffering from malnutrition. The truth, however, is that no more than a hundred prisoners were ever imprisoned there at any one time, and most of them had access to tobacco, writing paper and books, including those considered subversive, such as Karl Marx's Das Kapital; and indeed, when the fortress was conquered by the revolutionaries during the revolts led by the Bolsheviks in February 1917, there were just nineteen prisoners.

During your visit, you can admire the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Grand Ducal Burial Chapel, the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg and the Museum of Cosmonautics and Rocket Technology.


An interesting fact: One of the first prisoners to be held in the fortress was the son of Peter the Great, Alexei, who in June 1718 was tortured into confessing he had betrayed his father, and died there on July 7.

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