St. Petersburg - Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands

JUN 29,2015 - JUN 29,2015 (1 DAYS)

Russian Federation

1 DAYS

Citywalk

Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands - including St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress:

Main Attractions: University Embankment, sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III,the Imperial Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, Twelve Collegia, Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov, Kunstkamera, the Zoological Museum, the stock exchange, Rostral Columns, Strelka, the Exchange (Birzhevaya) Bridge, Flying Dutchman (Letuchy Gollandets) ship, St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost), The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Alexander Park, Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station.

Tip 1: Vasilievsky Island.

Tip 2: Petrogradskaya Island.

Tip 3: Austeria restaurant.

Start: Truda Square (Ploschad Truda) (Площадь Труда). Catch bus line 27 which rides along Nevsky Prospekt (8 stops from ploshchad' Vosstaniya Square) and stops also in Truda Square. Vasilyevsky Island is served by Vasileostrovskaya and Primorskaya stations of St. Petersburg Metro (Line 3 , the Green line). There are also tramway lines.

End: Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station in Petrogradskaya island.

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From Truda Square (see "From Grand Choral Synagogue to the Palace Square" blog) it is 650 m. walk to the Vasilievsky Island via Blagoveshchensky Bridge. Just keep waking northward from the square (to the Neva river direction). Cross the river over the Blagoveshchensky Bridge - having wonderful views of the southern bank of Vasilievsky Island:

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Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Благовещенский мост),  (formerly, Nikolaev bridge and Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) was the first bridge across the Neva River. in St. Petersburg. It connects Vasilievsky district (Vasilievsky Island) with the central part of the city. The bridge touches Vasilievsky Island at the Trezini Square slightly beyond the University embankment on the southern bank.

The sight of the bridge during the night hours is marvelous. Blagoveshchensky Bridge as most of Neva river bridges is a  bascule bridge and is opened at night during the navigational season for large vessels to pass through. Watching the raising of the bridge, better from SPB mainland side,  along one of the the embankments - is one of the great St. Petersburg experiences during the White Nights of June and July:

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As we land upon Vasilievsky Island, after crossing the Blagoveshchensky Bridge, we see on our right (east) the University Embankment (Universitetskaya emb) (Университетская набережная). It is 1.2 km. long and it spans between Blagoveshchensky Bridge in the wets to the Palace Bridge in the east. The embankment or promenade (still open for vehicles) is lines with an ensemble of imperial Baroque buildings of the early 18th century, including (from west to east): the Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, the Twelve Colleges, the Kunstkamera (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography), Zoological Museum.

The first building, after crossing the bridge is the Academy of Arts. A pier or quay in front of the Academy of Arts building, adorned with two authentic sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III brought in 1832 from Thebes, Egypt, was designed by Konstantin Thon and built in 1832-1834. The Sphinxes are about 3500 years old. Their faces are portraits of Amenhotep III and the shape of their crowns indicates that Pharaoh Amenhotep III was the ruler of two kingdoms—the Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The sphinxes weigh about 23 tons each:

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One of the Sphinxes and St. Issac's Cathedral in the background:

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The Imperial Academy of Arts , 17, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, was established at 1757, by Ivan Shuvalov,  to train Russian artists in the leading styles and techniques of West-Europe countries and sent its promising students to European capitals for further study. The main architect for the project was Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, whom Shuvalov invited from France to become the first professor of architecture at the Academy. De la Mothe was helped by Yury Felten and Alexander Kokorinov, who would become the first Russian professor to teach at the Academy. Training at the academy was virtually required for artists to make successful careers. The academy was abolished in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and was renamed several times. It established free tuition and was financed by the government; students from across the country competed fiercely for its few places annually. In 1947 the national institution was moved to Moscow, and much of its art collection was moved to the Hermitage. The building in St. Petersburg (formerly, Leningrad) had been transformed to the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Институт имени Репина), named in honor of one of Russia's foremost realist artists. Since 1991 it has been called the St. Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Open WED - SUN 11.00 - 18.00. Limited entry to the various halls and museums. Much depends on the  person in the main entrance:

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The Academy main facade (left: figure of Hercules, right: Flora):

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Menshikov Palace, 15, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya (Меншиковский дворец) is the next attraction to the east of the Academy of Arts and along the University Embankment from west to east. It is called also as Palace of Peter II. The building is painted in ocre-yellow and decorated with beautifully-carved pillars. The palace is one of the first stone buildings erected in SPB. It is also the only private city structure to have survived from the beginning of the 18th century. Today, the palace is a public museum, a branch of the Hermitage Museum. The palace was founded in 1710 as a residence of Saint Petersburg Governor General Alexander Menshikov and built by Italian architects Giovanni Maria Fontana, and, later, German architect Gottfried Johann Schädel. Menshikov was the chief advisor of Peter-the Great and gained a significant wealth during Peter's reign period. On the death of Peter, in 1725, Catherine I was raised to the throne. The placing of her on the throne meant security for Menshikov and his ill-gotten fortune. During Catherine's short reign (February 1725 – May 1727), Menshikov was practically the absolute ruler of Russia. He was the De- facto ruler of Russia for two years. Pushkin in one of his poems alluded to Menshikov as "half-Tsar". The old nobility united to overthrow him, and he was deprived of all his dignities and offices and expelled from the capital. In 1727, Menshikov with his family was exiled to Siberia and his property was confiscated.  As part of the State Hermitage, the palace  is now used to display some of the museum's vast collection of European and Russian applied art from the early 18th century, as well as contemporaneous sculptures and paintings, all of which blend harmoniously with the beautifully restored interiors.  The interiors have preserved to this day the design traditions of that era. The walls of the rich interiors are liberally dressed with marble, and the floors are covered with expensive glued-laminated parquet. Several rooms entirely covered with Dutch (Delft) tiles. The exhibits on display in the museum today are devoted to the history of Russian culture at the beginning of the 18th century. The collection includes rare works of art of the 17th and 18th centuries - including Menshikov's own belongings. Opening hours: daily 10.30 - 18.00. WED - 10.30 - 21.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: Adults: RUB 300, Students/children: free. Free admission to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month:

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The next complex, on your left, along the University Embankment is the Twelve Collegia, or Twelve Colleges (Двeнaдцaть Коллегий). It is the alarge edifice from the Petrine era designed by Domenico Trezzini and Theodor Schwertfeger and built from 1722 to 1744. It is, actually, a Baroque three-storey, red-brick complex of 12 buildings is 400–440 meters long - its facade is along Mendeleevskaya  liniyaa. Trezzini's idea was to underline the relative independence of each of the twelve collegia on other one hand, and their close interconnection in the system of state administration, on the other hand. The original design separated the 12 individual buildings. In subsequent restructuring, they would be connected to form the modern complex. The building is built of red bricks topped by stucco decorations in red and white.The buildings were designed to host 12 ministries of Peter-the-Great regime - with its joint facade symbolizing the unity of his reign. The building was planned to have uninterrupted view of Sterelka - and that is the reason it is vertical to the University Embankment. In 1891 the complex was purchased by the State University of St. Petersburg (Lenin studied here !):

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Out of the Twelve Collegia stands the charming bronze Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov overlooking the Neva river. This three-meter bronze statue stands also on Mendeleevskaya Liniya between the Twelve Colleges (the main building of St. Petersburg State University) and the Academy of Sciences. Unveiled in 1986 to mark the 275th anniversary of the great scientist,  poet, mathematician and father of Russian science. Lomonosov was a member of the Academy for over 20 years and, from 1758 until his death, rector of the Academic University:

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250 m. further east - we meet, on our left, the Kunstkamera. It is a Baroque green-blueish building with a top, delicate tower (under restoration in summer 2015). It was built, during the years 1718-1734 by Georg Mattarnoviy. The Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology or the Kunstkamera is the city’s first museum which was founded in 1714 by Peter the Great. Peter the Great ordered Dr. Robert Areskin to move his personal collections and library from Moscow to the new capital and begin creating the first state public museum – the Kunstkamera. The collections, consisting of “fish, reptiles and insects in bottles”, mathematical, physics and chemistry instruments, and also books from the Tsar’s library, were put in Peter’s Summer Palace. For Peter the Great, it was extremely important to create an image of a changing Russia. The emperor had the habit of receiving ambassadors in his museum, and a tour of the museum was part of the visit programme for all important guests. The first public exhibition of the Kunstkamera was opened in 1719 in the “Kikin chambers” – the confiscated home of the disgraced boyar A. Kikin. At this time, it was also decided to build a special building. Peter chose the location for the Kunstkamera himself in the centre of the new capital. This fascinating place is an essential S. Petersburg sight, although not one for the faint-hearted. Think twice about bringing young children here. Yet, the famous babies in bottles make up just a small part of the enormous collection that also encompasses some wonderfully kitsch dioramas exhibiting rare objects and cultural practices from all over the world, and you can easily spend an hour or two picking through these. Ground level - Museums shop, checkroom. Floor 1 - North America, Amazonia, Exhibition "The world of an Object" Japan, Africa. Floor 2 - Middle East and Central Asia,
China, Mongolia, Korea, Indochina, India. Indonesia, First Natural Science Collections of the Kunstkamera. Floor 3 - Mikhail Lomonosov and the Academy of Sciences in the 18th century with a recreation of his study-laboratory, Temporary Exhibition. Floor 4 - First Astronomical observatory of the Academy of Sciences. Floor 5 - Great Gottorp globe, a rotating globe and planetarium all in one. Note: this museum is not wheelchair accessible. Photos and Video - allowed. Opening hours: daily from 11.00 - 19.00, Last admission is at 18.00. Closed: Mondays and the last Tuesday of each month. Price: RUB 250.00. Students/children: RUB 50.00. Admission is free on the third Friday of each month. Many visitors hail this museum as an immensely interesting, fascinating and "don't miss" one. But, others think that the many odd items collected are "non-appetizing and even disgusting" which will turn your stomach, "a museum which needs updating" and "not for delicate people".:

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Hold your breath:

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The next block along the University Embankment is the Zoological Museum,1-3, Universitetskaya Nabereshnaya. In 1832 the zoological collections were split from the Kunstkamera and in 1896 moved nearby to its present location in the former southern warehouse of the Saint Petersburg Bourse (constructed in 1826-1832). In 1931 the Zoological Institute was established within the Academy of Sciences, which included the museum. The collection was started over 250 years ago, but has only been open to visitors since 1901. Much of the collection consists of stuffed and mounted animals. It was, of course, the custom in 17th and 18th century zoology to simply kill everything and bring it back from foreign places. Its collection has been increased dramatically in recent years due to numerous expeditions throughout Russia, to the Arctic circle, to Antarctica and to the tropics. Opening hours: SAT - THU: 11.00 - 18.00 (winter - 17.00). Closed: Fridays. Prices: Adult: RUB 200, Students/children: RUB 70. Free admission last Thursday of each month (excluding periods of high school holidays). Not suitable for wheelchairs:

The first hall, marine mammals:

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The second hall, fishes:

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The main attraction, in the main hall, is the enormous skeleton of a blue whale:

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The third Hall - a Mammoth skeleton:

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This is the world’s only stuffed and mounted adult mammoth:

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In the entrance - the monument of Karl Ernst von Baer:

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Next eastward we arrive to Birzhevaya Ploschad. On your left an impressive building - the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (also Bourse) and on your right - the red Rostral Columns. Both, are significant examples of Greek Revival architecture. Designed by French (or Swiss) architect Thomas de Thomon, and inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum. The stock exchange, Birzhevaya Ploschad 4, now holds the Naval Museum, was constructed between 1805 and 1810. The Old Stock Exchange was sited to fill the majestic sweep of the Spit (in Russian: Strelka) of Vasilievsky Island, just opposite the Winter Palace on SPB mainland. A monumental sculptural group similar in form to a quadriga featuring Neptune, and symbolizing maritime commerce, is mounted above the portico. Both inside and outside the Bourse, a motif of the semicircle is recurrent. The interior is closed and the whole building is waiting for its new restoration:

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The Rostral Columns: on your right, opposite the Stock Exchange (Bourse) building on the Neva, were completed in 1811. The name of the Rostral Columns is derived from the Latin word for a ship's beak, Rostrum. De Thomon, the architect, designed a semicircular overlook with circular ramps descending to a jetty projecting into the river and SPB city mainland. This formal approach, is framed by two rostral columns centered opposite the portico of the Stock Exchange. The Doric columns sit on a granite plinth and are constructed of brick coated with a deep terra cotta red stucco and decorated with bronze anchors and four pairs of bronze ship prows (rostra). At the foot of each column are pairs of imposing marbles sculptures, allegorical figures of mythical gods representing four major rivers in Russia: the Neva, Dnieper, Volga and Volkhov. The Rostral Columns were originally intended to serve as oil-fired navigation beacons in the 1800s , and, originally, were topped by a light in the form of a Greek brazier and lit by oil (on some public holidays gas torches are still lit on them). Originally, the pillars had been put up as memorials of Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Northern War:

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The sculpture standing at the foot of one of the Rostral Columns personifies the Neva:

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Rostral Columns - Dnieper River god:

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Strelka (Strelka Vasilyevskogo ostrova) (Tongue of the Land) is the name of the eastern tip of Vasilievsky island. In 1733 the port of St. Petersburg was set up here. The port grew quickly as trade with Western Europe increased. The columns were built as beacons to guide the constantly growing number of ships during St. Petersburg's long dark nights. In 1885 the port moved to the Gulf of Finland to accommodate larger vessels and increased traffic and the beacons were decommissioned. As we said before - the lamps are still lit on public holidays and during ceremonies. The Strelka also boasts one of the best views in the city: you look left to the Peter and Paul Fortress and right to the Hermitage, the Admiralty and St Isaac's Cathedral. It is highly Popular Place with locals. A lot of new-married couples visit this place and break a bottle of Vodka or Champagne for happiness and good luck. On many evenings there is music being played and people are dancing, especially in the weekends. A great spot for pictures. Try the Strelka also at night for great photos as many buildings in SPB are lit up. The best time for the pictures is the afternoon: In the morning, you have to take them against the sun:

View of the Winter Palace from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):

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View of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral (see Tip 2 below) from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):

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We shall walk around the Sterelka and choose between two options:

  • Continue  to Petrogradskaya island. The Exchange (Birzhevaya) Bridge (most), near the Sterelka, and Tuchkov Bridge (more to the west) across the Malaya Neva connect Vasilievsky island with Petrogradskaya Island. The Exchange (Birzhevaya) (Биржево́й мост) is 100 m. west to the Sterelka. We cross the Neva by using this bridge and walk to Petrogradskaya island. Skip to Tip 2:

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OR

staying in Vasilievsky island and continue along nab Makarova westward. It is quite long walk (approx. 900 m.) from Birzhevoy bridge (most) to Tuchkov most (bridge) along the Makarova street. On our left, on Makarova, the Institute of Russian Literature or Pushkin House ((Пушкинский дом, Pushkinsky Dom). It is an institute affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences (under restoration in summer 2015):

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In case you are hungry: turn left in Sredny prospekt (the 5th turn to the left on Makarova) and take the 2nd turn to the right (per. Tuchkov). On your left you finf the Ristorante Villagio: pleasant, comfort chairs, nice decoration, quality food, very polite service, good AC, clean services and medium prices:

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We return to the Makarova street (from Tuchkov road - turn right to Sredny prospekt and left to Makarova) and head westward to Tuchkov bridge: the second and west bridge linking Vasilievsky island and Petrogradskaya island. We cross the Neva river over Tuchkov bridge when, on our left, is the Petrovsky Stadium: 

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It is quite complicated here to find a way eastward. Find the Sportivnaya Metro station walk along the subway (underground pass) and exit at the most eastern tunnel of the station. Head eastward along Dobrolyubova avenue. On your right is the Hospitality Business Centre and a nice fountain. Further east - on your left a church and on your right - Alibra school. The Dobrolyubova avenue is lined (especially, on your left / north) several Art Nouveau buildings:

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The Dobrolyubova avenue ends with the quay where the Flying Dutchman warship is standing. Here, we skip to Tip 2.

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Tip 2: Petrogradskaya Island:

We start our tour in Petrogradskaya in the Exchange (Birzhevaya) bridge over the Neva. It derives its name from the famous Old St. Petersburg Stock Exchange (Bourse, "birzha", Биржа) building located on Vasilievsky Island (see Tip 1). The five-span steel bridge rests on granite-faced piers of reinforced concrete, and the bridges simple but elegant decorations include cast iron railings featuring nautical decorations. It is opened in the summer months from 02.00 till 04.55:

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There is heavy transportation around the bridge, in both of its edges. Please, be VERY careful in crossing the streets OR THE BRIDGE (from side to side). The whole surrounding is not pedestrians-friendly.

Try to cross the bridge, VERY CAREFULLY, from the east side to the west side - to get a wonder ful view of the Neva river (and hydrofoil boat crossing the river) and the Vasilievsky Island:

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We continue north-east along Pl. (square) Akademika Lychacheva (or Birzhevaya Ploshchad) and, taking the right fork leg, along Mytninskaya nab.

View from Birzhevaya Ploshchad to the Sterelka and Vasilievsky Island:

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Our spot of destination is the mighty Flying Dutchman (Letuchy Gollandets) ship, Mytninskaya nab. 6 (clearly seen also from Vasilievsky Island). The ship stands in the widest point of the Neva river and provides stunning views, for its diners, from the top deck, on both of the Neva river banks: Peter and Paul Fortress in the east  and the Winter Palace in the south-east. The best hours, here, are the afternoon (the sun is in the west). The ship is a complex including three expensive and prestigious restaurants: Japanese, Italian and Russian, with original menu and Brazilian grill. It offers also elite fitness centre with three halls as well as a beauty treatment salon:

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Here, WE CONTINUE Tip 1 route. We walk, now, 1.2 km. to Peter and Paul Fortres. Head northeast along nab. Mytninskaya (наб. Мытнинская) and continue on the same road, which changes its name to  Kroverkskaya  (пр. Кронверкский), 1170 m. Slight right to stay on Kroverkskaya (наб. Кронверкская), 65 m. Turn right, 10 m to arrive to main entrance of St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress. Most of your walk, on your right, is along a quaint branch or canal of the Neva river.

The pier east of the Peter and Paul Fortress entrance bridge:

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Entrance bridge to st. Paul and st. Peter fortress:

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Not many people know - but if you get a nice warm sunny day, there's a riverside beach just round the corner from the Neva gate at the Peter and Paul Fortress. It's only a strip of sand between the fortress walls and the river but for those in the know it makes for a pleasant spot to grab some rays with great views across to the city. Although it slopes gently into the river bathing isn't advised since the water is still quite heavily polluted and as for actually swimming - NOT RECOMMENDED! The "walruses" who use the beach in front of the fortress to sunbathe and swim in ice-holes in the winter. In the summer, the "beach" is a popular picnic site and is also used to host a variety of events, festivals and concerts, including the respected "Petro Jazz" annual festival:

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Opening hours: daily, 10.00 to 18.00. Saturday, 11.00 to 18.00. Sunday, 10.00 to 17.45. Prices: free for the fortress grounds. Museums inside and/or exhibitions - special admission price, each. The fortress is included in the St. Petersburg museums' combined ticket. Photo and video: Free. Fully accessible for wheelchairs (ramps).

The main (eastern) entrance is the Ioanovskie Vorota (John Gate), the only part of the fortress in its original condition from 1717-18. The bas-reliefs designed by Konrad Osner represent the story of Peter defeating Simon the sorcerer. There are statues of Mars and Venus in niches nearby. The other principal gate is the western one Nevski Vorota (Neva Gate), through Kronwerk Bridge, where prisoners were taken to their execution or to Schussleburg fortress. We shall enter the fortress from the Nevski Vorota. We shall leave the fortress from the Ioanovskie Vorota.

The eastern entrance (our exit) to the Peter and Paul Fortress is through the gates of the Ioannovskiy Ravelin  or Vorota (named in honour of Tsar Ivan V). It is one of two triangular defensive structures that bookend the fortress to the east and west and the main visitor entrance to the Peter and Paul Fortress. The entrance complex houses ticket offices, a tourist information centre, and several exhibition halls including the Museum of Cosmonautics and Rocket Technology. Built during the years 1731-1740 and faced with granite tiles in1778, the Ioannovskiy Ravelin barrack had been twice reconstructed, and previously housed a guardhouse and barracks.

The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded in May 1703. It quickly mounted 300 cannon. Construction employed 20,000 laborers. The first wooden church was dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June, 1703. The fortress was designed as an irregular hexagon with six bastions and six curtain walls. Peter took personal charge of one bastion (named Tsar) and designated a high ranking favorite to supervise each of the others. They were then named accordingly: Naryshkin, Trubetskoi, Zotov, Golovkin, and Menshikov Bastions. Three bastions were renamed, later,  to honor succeeding reigning monarchs. The main gate, Ioannovskiy Vorota,  was placed between the Tsar and Menshikov Bastions. Between 1705 and 1708 the northern side was further strengthened by the addition of a kronwerk (hornwork) of earth outside the Golovkin Bastion. In 1706 construction of replacement works of brick and stone commenced with the Menshikov Bastion being the first. In the following year work began on the Golovkin and Zotov Bastions. The entire work took about 35 years. Domenico Trezzini was the architect-engineer. The walls were 12 meters high. During the reign of the Tsarina Anna in the 1730's additional outer defenses were added with ravelins and counter guards at both ends of the fortress. During the reign of Catherine II the walls were re-faced with granite. This was purely a decorative step as it did nothing to strengthen the military value of the fortress. In 1849 Tsar Nicholas I authorized construction of a three story arsenal within the hornwork. During 1874-77 the remains of the old hornwork were removed. This arsenal now contains the Museum of Artillery, Engineer, and Signal Troops. On the opposite side of the fortress is the original cottage of Peter I, built in 3 days in 1703. Peter lived here during the summer, while supervising construction, until the original Summer Palace was built across the river. Although the fortress was put on alert several times it was never tested in battle and became used as a political prison. The present-day site, enclosed by its imposing stone walls, is now a museum complex featuring the former prison, the St. Petersburg Mint (one of only two places in Russia where coins and medals are minted), and various other historically interesting buildings. Thus, the fort originally built to protect the city, in practice became a prison for Russians, so called Russian Bastille... Parts of the former jail are now open to the public. Its status was only changed in 1918 when it became a city museum.
The Fortress as a whole is open to the public, free of charge, and only the individual museums and the bastion walkways have entry fees (see below). You can walk around inside and there is a footpath along the river outside the walls. All buildings in the fortress are open from THU -MON from 11.00 to 18.00, on Tuesday from 11.00 to 17.00. The museums are closed on Wednesdays but the site,as a while, is open. Museum ticket allows you to visit the Cathedral with the tombs and various exhibitions. Every evening from 18.00 to 19.00 the cathedral entrance is free (except Wednesday).  It is considered a sacred site there is no consumption of alcohol allowed inside. Prices: Ticket for 3 permanent displays:
Peter and Paul Fortress, Grand Ducal Burial Chapel & Trubetskoy Bastion Prison: adult 380 RUB, Student 210 RUB. Tickets for one display:
Peter and Paul Cathedral: A - 330 S - 210. Trubetskoy Bastion Prison:
A - 150, S - 80. History of St Petersburg-Petrograd. 1703-1918: A - 110, S - 70. History of Peter and Paul Fortress: A - 60, S - 40. Still photography and video recording are prohibited at temporary exhibitions.

Tips:

  • You can easily spend all day walking around. Allow, at least, 3-4 hours.
  • Every museum or exhibition inside is subject to extra ticketing.
  • Be prepared to walk on cobblestones.
  • Most of the paths inside are cobble-stoned. Wear sturdy shoes.
  • If you are lucky - you'll hear the small choir singing in the cathedral.
  • Very good restaurant Austeria in Ioannovsky ravelin (almost in the end of our itinerary) (see Tip 3).

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul  (1714-1733): In the fortress is the Petropavlovski Sobor (Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul) built in Dutch style from 1712 to 1721 by Trezzini. The Peter and Paul Cathedral marked a radical departure from traditional Orthodox churches, being built in early Baroque style. Its rectangular shape, bell-tower, and landmark needle are all features borrowed from the protestant churches of Western Europe - the influence of Dutch architecture is particularly visible - all of which was in accordance with Peter's wishes. Peter wanted the Cathedral to serve as a burial place for himself and his descendants and was very much interested in its construction, though he did not live to see it finished in 1733. He wanted its belfry to be higher than any in western Europe, and even thought of its carillon. Together with its gilded sharp spire with an angel on top, the belfry is almost 122 meters high (400 feet). This was the city's first stone church and the golden spire, topped with an angelic weather-vane, is the highest structure in the city at 404 feet tall. Russians followed the taste of their ruler and the Cathedral became a landmark that for many years served as a model for many churches later erected in Russia; however, with the exception of its size and blistering gold that pleasantly reflects in the Neva's waters. The Cathedral was reconstructed by Rastrelli and Chevakinski in 1750.

Opening hours: daily, 10.00 - 18.00, SAT, 11.00 - 18.00,  SUN, 10.00 - 17.45.
Price: RUB 200. The Cathedral is included in the combined ticket. Photos -  free. Fully accessible for wheelchairs.

Exterior: Unlike the onion-domed Orthodox churches this was designed in a European style with a nave and side aisles. The cathedral's rectangular base stretches from southwest to northeast, and its walls are formed with decorative pilasters and ornate cherub heads on the windows. The multi-tiered cathedral bell tower is crowned with a landmark needle, upholstered with copper gilded sheets. The needle, built by Dutchman German von Bolis, is topped off by the figure of a flying angel bearing a cross. As the tallest structure, it was often the victim of lightning, and in fact burned down on the night of April 29-30, 1756, in a particularly severe fire. In 1766, Catherine the Great ordered the bell tower to be rebuilt exactly as it had been, and the new tower was unveiled in 1776. New bells were brought from Holland by renowned Dutch craftsman Ort Krass. They played "Since the Glory" at the top of every hour until 1917, and at noon played the national anthem, "God Save the Tsar", to the accompaniment of a canon shot - a tradition which continues today. The clock was turned off, but in 1952 a new one was installed that chimed four times a day and played the hymn of the Soviet Union:

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The interior contains many important artistic works. Its interior is the most ostentatiously ornate in the country with gilded statuary and 18th century icons. Inside there is a wonderful iconostasis, completed by a group of more than forty Moscow architects led by Ivan Zarudny from 1722-1727. The walls of the cathedral are also embellished with paintings of various bible themes, including many paintings of biblical stories by artists of the early and mid 18th century. As well as being a place of imperial worship it is the burial site of most of the Tsars (all Tsars except Peter II and (partially) Nicholas II) and their families from Peter I to Nicolas II (the latter's remains, along with those of his family, having been re-interred here in 1998 after being moved from Ekaterinburg where they were shot by the Bolsheviks in 1917). The graves are marked with marble sarcophagi, topped with gold-plated crosses.  Peter the Great grave is at the front right, and people still leave fresh flowers on it. Also here are both Catherines, Elizabeth, all three Alexanders, Paul, Peter III, Anne - and now both Nicholases (I and II) as well as the remains of Nicholas II family - all were re-interred in the small Chapel of St. Catherine on July 17, 1998.Inside, the church has a magnificent collection of paintings from the Petrine Era. The carved and heavily gilded iconostasis, and the pastel hand-painted ceilings are amazing. The chandeliers are stunning. The gold gilded decorations in the rooms is absolutely awesome and breath-taking:

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Relief of Tsar Alexander II:

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Portrait of Nicholas I:

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Portrait of Alexander II:

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Portrait of Pavel I:

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Portrait of Nicholas II:

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There are other interesting buildings inside the fortress. Grand-Ducal Burial Vault (Великокняжеская усыпальница): resides north-east and adjacent to the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The Neo-Baroque domed structure is  mistakingly considered as a part of the Peter and Paul Cathedral (both are yellow painted). It is the final resting place (mausoleum) of the junior members of the Romanov family, as well as for Grand-Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, who was head of the Russian Imperial Family in exile until he died in 1992. Later, the remains of his parents were also moved to the vault. The yellow building was constructed 1896-1908 by a team of architects including Leontiy Benois. Attached to the cathedral by a covered walkway, the Grand-Ducal Burial Vault is included in tours of the cathedral. The interiors are richly decorated with marble and mosaics:

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The Boathouse or Pavillion: resides east of the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral and used as a ticket office for the exhibitions and museums in the fortress. The splendid pavilion houses a COPY of Peter the Great's  small training sailboat (Botik of Peter the Great) that had been used by the young Tsar to learn rowing, navigation and other naval principles on seas and lakes. The Boat Pavilion was built during the years 1762-1765 by Catherine the Great to store this boat. The boat was moved by the Soviet regime to the Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg Bourse (see above in Tip 1) in September 1940 - where it remains today.

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The Artillery Warehouse: resides, also, east to the cathedral. Built at the beginning of the 19th century. A simple, single-story, designed by the military engineer A.M. Briskorn. This long building was built to store arms and military equipment, but was later used as the fortress's fire depot, a telephone station, and finally for training of the fortress garrison. It now houses exhibition halls and offices of the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg:

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The Engineers’ House - a bit south to the Artillery Warehouse (stores). Constructed 1748-1749 and designed by by the military engineer N.I. Muravyev. One of the unaltered buildings in the Peter and Paul Fortress. Originally housed the workshops and storerooms of the engineers who built and repaired the fortress's fortifications. The Engineers' House is now used for various displays of material from the museum's rich reserves:

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The Main Guardhouse - is south-east to the cathedral. Behind the back of Peter the Great statue (see below). An elegant, classical building   built in 1748-1749. The Senior Officers' Guardhouse was the headquarters of the fortress guard, and also used to hold arrested officers. Today, the building, houses the administration offices of the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg:

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The Commandant’s House - is south to the cathedral. Designed by D.Trezzini and the engineer de Marine. Inside there were the Commandant’s living quarters and some auxiliary premises. The Commandants - usually the outstanding military leaders and the most trust-worthy servants of the Crown - were appointed by the Emperor. All in all during the Tsarist times there were 34 Commandants in the Fortress. This position was honorable and was often granted for life. 19 Commandants who died on their post were buried at the Commandant’s Cemetery at the Eastern wall of the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral (see below). The most interesting part of the museum is on the second floor, which houses the room where the noblemen who took part in the Decembrist Revolt of 1825 were sentenced by the highest criminal court. Six of the insurgents were hanged and the rest were exiled to Siberia. Next is a large-scale model showing how the Alexander Column in Palace Square was erected. The next room houses a famous panorama of Nevsky Prospect in the time of poet Alexander Pushkin. Next is a suite of rooms dedicated to St. Petersburg in the early twentieth century. These rooms host one of the world’s best collections of household items of that era. You can find almost anything in here - adding machines, bonnets and shoes, luggage and shop signs, a huge vault, numerous sets of dishes and sanitary porcelain. There is even a 1906 Benz automobile. Visitors are allowed to touch everything, and there are lots of audio and video materials explaining the various exhibits. Children will be particularly intrigued by the “tenement house in profile” which is a scale model of a residential building with miniature residents, furniture, cookware, clothes and so on:

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The Mint: The entire western side of Cathedral Square is taken up by the facade of the Mint. The Mint was constructed 1800-1805 to replace coining workshops in the eastern fortifications of the Peter and Paul Fortress, which had been producing money and medals since 1724. Designed by A. Porto in strict classical style, the main building was complemented in the 1830s and 1840s by further workshops and a surrounding stone wall. The Mint continues to produce coins, state awards, and other official medals:

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One of the Permanent Exhibitions in the fortress' grounds - Museum of Medieval Tortures Instruments...:

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Trubetskoy Bastion Prison: resides on the most south-west side of the fortress' complex. There is clear signage leading to the prison- museum. These days you have to pay 150 RUB. to get in. The history of Peter and Paul Fortress as the main political prison in Russian began in 1718, when the son of Peter the Great, Prince Alexey was imprisoned here. In March 1718 Alexis, then aged 28, was accused of plotting against his father and sentenced to death for treason. He was imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress where he was mysteriously killed before he'd had a chance to appeal the verdict. The fortress became used as a political prison whose famous inmates included the writer Dostoevsky. n 1872 a new prison within the walls of the Trubetskoy Bastion was constructed. It was a two-storey building with an inner yard. Trubetskoy Bastion Prison was created as the secret jail for preliminary detention of the enemies of the state. Its 69 cells designed to eliminate contacts among the prisoners, to the extent that the walls were soundproofed. Prisoners were placed in solitary confinement and were kept under constant surveillance of the guard, They were denied contact with each other and even with prison staff, which was a real psychological torture. In the years leading to the Bolshevik revolution several leading characters spent time here, including Maxim Gorky and Trotsky. Another one of its most famous prisoners was writer Feodor Dostoevsky. Prisoners, held in the Trubetskoy Bastion, were under the jurisdiction of the so called Third Department – the Imperial regime's secret police, created in 1825, – and later by its successor, the Department of Police. More than 1,500 thousands of prisoners had been kept there from 1872 to 1917. After the revolution members of the Tsarist Government, and then – ministers of Provisional Government were imprisoned there. The last prisoners to be confined in the Trubetskoy Bastion were Soviet sailors, soldiers and civilians, who participated in the Kronshtadt Rebellion against the Bolsheviks. The prison was closed in 1924 and turned into a political museum. The present-day version is fascinatingly documented with testimonials from previous inmates, along with rare photographs and other records. The story of the main political prison of the Imperial Russia is told by archival documents, photographs, multimedia programs, audio records with prisoners' memoirs. Prison walls, cells and corridors are eloquent reminders of gruesome past of this place. On display are uniforms for the prisoners and models. Part of the corridor is a reconstruction of the acting prison. We found this site - a confronting experience:

Inner walls of Trubetskoy Bastion:

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The Naryshkin Bastion (St Catherine Bastion, the Empress Catherine I Bastion) with the flagstaff tower and the St Catherine Curtain Wall are further EAST to the Trubetskoy Bastion Prison (on the southern side of the fortress' complex - projecting the southern water of the Neva river):

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Flagstaff Tower of the Bastion (300 rub. for getting permission to have a view over the water around the fortress):

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The Neva Curtain Wall and Neva Gate with the Neva Gate are further east (along the Neva on your right / south):

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From the Neva Bastion we move northward (north-west) into the fortress complex inner grounds - to meet the Sobornaya Square and Monument to Peter the Great (in front of the Main Guardhouse). In the 20th century a new Sobornaya square was developed and in 1991, a new memorial was erected on this square in the name of the city's founder Peter the Great. The memorial was designed and created by Leningrad artist Mikhail Shemyakin in the USA  and had been donated by Shemyakin to the city. It was installed on 6–7 June 1991. Shemiakin made the head of the statue using the (death) mask of Peter's face taken by Rastrelli in 1719, six years before Peter's death, and this fact is mentioned at the base of the statue. Peter-the-Great proportions were elongated - resembling the style of Russian icons.

Note his small head:

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

... and his bony fingers:

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A bit north to Peter's statue is the Commandants' Cemetery, by the east Wall of the Peter and Paul Fortress, where 19 from 32 commandants of the fortress were buried:

Church of Commandants' Cemetery:

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St. Peter's Gate (Petrovskiye Vorota): on your way eastward, out from the fortress (further east from Peter's statue, along the main path) - you pass through the St. Peter's curtain wall and gate. This part of the main external wall that was built by Domenico Trezzini in 1717-1719 and, originally, housed the barracks for the artillery and engineering companies of the fortress garrison, as well as officers' apartments and warehouses. Part of the premises were used to hold prisoners, including participants in the Decembrist Uprising of 1825. The St. Peter ( Petrovskiye) Gate is the official ceremonial entrance to the Peter and Paul Fortress, dating back to 1708 and erected to commemorate Russian victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Decorations include  statues depicting Bravery and Wisdom flanking the archway by French sculptor Nicholas Pinot, and over the arch an immense Imperial crest weighing (double-headed eagle made by F. Vassu) over a ton, all from the early 18th century (1720). Petrovskaya Curtain Wall is the fortress’ eastern wall. There are six such walls - Petrovskaya, Nevskaya, Ekaterininskaya, Vasilievskaya, Nikolskaya and Kronverkskaya. Together, they bridge the six five-cornered bastions that were capable of providing a comprehensive defense in the event of an attack on the fortress:

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On your left is the Menshikov Bastion:

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The St. John (Ioannovsky) Ravelin with the St. John Gate - leading to St. John (Ioannovsky) Bridge:
Ioannovsky Ravelin and the Petrovskaya Curtain Wall form a courtyard and take you straight to the Ioannovsky Gate . The ravelin houses the ticket office, where you can buy tickets to the fortress’ museums, the cathedral and the prison.

Ioannovsky Ravelin Exhibition Hall:

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Again, on your exit, you find, opposite the fortress - a strip of "beach" with "sun-tanners" or "sun-bathers":

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From St. John (Ioannovsky) Bridge you walk 550 m. to the Gorkovskaya metro station. Head northeast toward nab. Kronverkskaya  (наб. Кронверкская), 8 m. Turn left onto nab.Kronverkskaya, 11 m. Take the crosswalk, 60 m. Turn left, 30 m. Turn right and cross the Alexander Park, 350 m.

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Turn left, 25 m. Turn right, 50 m. and you face the Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station.

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Food

Austeria restaurant , St. John (Ioannovsky) Ravelin, Petropavlovskaya Krepost, ST. Paul and St. Peter Fortress:

Great food, good service, a bit above-the-average prices. Avoid rush hours (frequent groups of tourists). Russian cuisine. Nice vies to the south (Neva river).

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