Lacking the fame and tourist appeal of the Hermitage or the Mariinsky Theatre, the Peter and Paul Fortress is certainly no less of a St. Petersburg landmark. The first structure to be built in St. Petersburg, and thus the birthplace of the city, it never served its intended defensive function. Instead it has had a rich, hugely varied, and sometimes sinister history as a military base, a home of government departments, the burial ground of the Russian Imperial family, the site of groundbreaking scientific experiments, and a forbidding jail that held some of Russia's most prominent political prisoners.
Today, the Peter and Paul Fortress is for the most part under the auspices of the St. Petersburg Museum of History, with a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions charting the various aspects of the compound's past. While the central visitor attraction is undoubtedly the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, one of St. Petersburg's most striking buildings, there is plenty within the walls of the fortress to keep children and adults occupied for a full day at least. The Peter and Paul Fortress is also the centre of a number of St. Petersburg urban traditions, among them the daily firing of the cannon from the Naryshkin Bastion at noon and 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 Petrojazz annual festival.
|Address:|| ||Zayachy (Hare) Island|
|Open:||The grounds of the fortress at open 6am to 10pm. All exhibitions are open daily, except Wednesdays, 10 am to 6 pm. Last admission is at 5 pm. Tuesdays, 10 am to 5 pm. Last admission is at 4 pm.|
|Telephone:||+7 (812) 230-6431|
|Admission:||Combined ticket to all major attractions (including the Cathedral and the Jail): RUB 370.00|
|Photo and video:||free/included|
|Accessibility note:||The Cathedral and the grounds are wheelchair accessible. Other exhibits are not wheelchair accessible (stairs, curbs, cobblestone pavements)|
Short history of the Peter and Paul Fortress|
Built at the height of the Great Northern Wars, the Peter and Paul Fortress was never used for defence, but instead became the centre of Peter the Great's awe-inspiring project to build a modern Imperial capital on the marshlands of the Neva Delta. ›››
Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral |
The oldest church in St. Petersburg, and the city's cathedral for over 150 years, the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral is both one of the most striking landmarks in the city, and the final resting place of nearly all of Russia's Imperial rulers. ›››
Buildings of the Peter and Paul Fortress|
The structures of the Peter and Paul Fortress vary widely in architectural style, reflecting the changing functions of the complex over the course of three centuries. This section introduces you to the principal buildings of the Peter and Paul Fortress. ›››
Exhibitions and Museums at the Peter and Paul Fortress|
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the central site of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, which uses several parts of the fortress to host exhibitions chronicling various aspects of the history of the complex, and of life in the city as a whole. ›››