St. Petersburg and its historical environs became the center of the main cultural events of the past year in connection with the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter I. Many publications on the information resources of Glavgosexpertiza.
In 2023, the jubilee baton, including on our information agenda, will be taken over by the Northern capital itself: on May 27, St. Petersburg will be 320 years old. The founding day of the city is considered the laying of the Peter and Paul Fortress on Hare Island.
The second Peter’s fortress by the date of foundation was Kronstadt (translated from German as “Crown City”). Its history dates back to the end of 1703, when the construction of the first fort, called Kronshlot (Crown Castle), began on Kotlin Island in the southern part of the Gulf of Finland. Tsar Peter himself made a sketch of the project and a model of a three-tiered tower while in Voronezh in October of the same 1703. The wooden model of the fort was sent to Alexander Menshikov, who was instructed by the tsar to immediately start building the first Russian “fortress” near St. Petersburg. The Northern War was in full swing, and the Swedish fleet was already near Vyborg. Therefore, Peter set the task of building a fortress by the spring of 1704. The height of the fort was 36.5 m, width – 29 m. 14 guns were installed on the tower. It is noteworthy that the Kronshlot was built on the shallows, on bulk soil off the southern coast of Kotlin Island. And it was the first experience in the world of building a fortification on an artificial foundation. Traditionally, sea fortresses were built on the coast, including on the tops of rocks.
Already in July 1704, the Kronshlot received a baptism of fire, successfully repelling the attack of the Swedish fleet.
The next fort in the area of Kotlin Island was built by decree of Peter I already at the end of the Great Northern War, after the signing of the Treaty of Nystadt. Fort “Citadel” was built from 1721 to 1724. It differed from the “Kronshlot” in a more powerful fortification. 106 guns were installed in its embrasures. Thus, the tsar wanted to strengthen the sea approaches to St. Petersburg. The fort was also supposed to protect Kronstadt’s Merchant Harbor, where merchant ships began to call as early as 1713.
It is worth noting that the Citadel fort stood in its original form for exactly 100 years – namely, until November 7 (19), 1824, when the most destructive flood in the history of St. Petersburg and Kronstadt occurred. On this day, the water in the Neva rose by more than 4 meters, Kotlin Island was almost completely flooded. By the way, in the same year the idea of building a protective dam across the Gulf of Finland was born. The project was developed by engineer Peter Bazin, but due to difficult hydrological conditions and lack of technology, the project turned out to be unrealizable. The construction of a complex of protective structures in St. Petersburg became possible only two centuries later. The dam began to be erected in 1979, its construction was carried out until 2011.
It is also noteworthy that the defense structures of Kronstadt, destroyed in 1824, began to be restored precisely from the Citadel fort. In fact, it was rebuilt, completely replacing wooden structures with stone ones. In 1834, by decree of Nicholas I, the fort “Citadel” was renamed the fort “Emperor Peter the Great”. At the same time, the construction of the fort “Alexander the First” began, which was completed only in 1845.
Today, the famous Kronstadt fortresses, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are taking on a new life as the most important semantic centers of the Island of Forts tourism and recreation cluster, which has been created since 2019 on behalf of the President of Russia.
“Work to save the forts is carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments of St. Petersburg, and the professional community. After the completion of the restoration, point projects will be implemented to adapt the forts to modern use. Until 2026, museum expositions, public spaces and tourist infrastructure should appear on the forts. At the same time, the priority is to preserve the cultural identity of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites”, – said the organizers of the project “Kronshadt. Island of Forts.
Work on the restoration of the forts is carried out within the framework of the state program “Development of Culture” and is implemented at the expense of the federal budget, while after the restoration the tourist and social infrastructure at the forts will be implemented at the expense of investors and patrons, the organization specified.
1.1 billion rubles were allocated from the reserve fund for the reconstruction of the Kronstadt fort “Peter I”. Such an order was signed by the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin. The opening of the fort after restoration is planned for 2025.
The budget also finances the reconstruction of the road junction with the KZS at the entrance to Kronstadt (the “bottleneck”, where, due to the daily commuting migration of the area’s residents, employed on the “mainland”, there are traffic difficulties in the morning and evening) and, as expected, the modernization of the engineering networks of the Kronstadt region will be financed to meet the growing needs of the territory and create a power reserve for the entire island of Kotlin. Earlier, the project received a positive conclusion from the Glavgosexpertiza of Russia.
Photo: Press service of the project “Isle of Forts”