Kronstadt is the fortress in the sea.
In the middle of the Finnish gulf, approximately in 26 kilometers from St. Petersburg, there is the town of Kronstadt on the island of Kotlin. The island lasts from the west to the east almost to 10 kilometres, but its maximal width is less than 3 km. Some years back a dam (protective structures called to protect St. Petersburg from floods) approached to the central part of the island from the north, on this dam the automobile connection with "the large ground" (1984) was opened. It is planned that from the south the gulf also will be locked by a dam, then the island will appear on a large transit highway (Finland - centre of Russia). An island location and the nearness to St. Petersburg determined all three-century history of Kronstadt and its today's life. Till 1996 the island was closed for visiting by the simple citizens, because of location of naval military base on this island. It was possible to reach Kronstadt only by excursion or by the invitation of the inhabitants of the town.
|The fort of Peter I. The project.|
The dam divides the island into two parts - the western and the eastern. In the west there is one of forts, cemetery and military part. The town occupies all the eastern part of the Kotlin. Directly from a dam the area of new buildings begins and extends up to the ruins of the fortress wall. Behind it the old town is located. Most of all Kronstadt is similar to the district of capital of great empire carried away in the sea by strong hurricane and stayed in the midst of water forever. The town abounds monuments of high art value as well as St. Petersburg. There are the granite channels and granite quays. Kronstadt is very close to St. Petersburg both by its spirit and by its architecture.
The southern harbours directly contiguous to centre are occupied by the military ships and submarines, at which it is possible to look literally from distance of hundred meters. >From the garden the bronze Peter I looks at them. At the east extremity of the garden there is the mooring. From here the ferry in the town Lomonosov leaves. All this part of the island is surrounded by the bypass granite channel. In the central part of this original "islands on an island" there is the Sea cathedral. This is the highest structure on the island, and it is well visible from the coast of the gulf. Further to the east there is the St. Petersburg quay, here the "meteors" coming from Piter land.
|The fort of Citadel. The view from inside. The project.|
From the north and from the south to the island the chains of forts are pulled, most powerful and beautiful of which are to the south from the town and are well visible from the place, where the future southern part of the dam will approach to Kotlin (from the town centre and from the quays the forts are practically not visible).
The life of the local inhabitants is closely connected to fleet and sea. Many officers and cadets live in Kronstadt, in the town there are shipbuilding factory and ports. The main entertainment of the local inhabitants, which is obviously connected to the island location of the town, is fishing.
Pages of history
The island Kotlin was known from ancient times, but its modern history began since autumn of 1703, when under the command of Peter I on a small island-swept to the south from Kotlin the fort Kronshlot was founded. This fort blocked for the potential enemy a main waterway let to a mouth of Neva, where the new capital of empire was under construction. May 7, 1704 the fortifications including two batteries on the island Kotlin came into force. Kronstadt counts its age from this date. After one month to the fort the Swedes came, but were compelled to recede. Under a plan of Peter I the town should become not only barrier on a way of the enemy's ships, but also a base of Russian Military fleet. Since 1709 on the island the construction of warehouses and moorings for needs of fleet was conducted. The factory in which battle ships were repaired and completed was constructed later. In the town 6 dry docks and special channel, on which the ships could penetrate into the town centre, were constructed.
|The fort of Kronshlot. The view from inside.|
In 1723 on the Kotlin the fortress was constructed. This fortress received the name Kronstadt.
Peter I considered the town as a part of the capital. The best architects here worked, the perspective plan of the town with wide streets and large squares was developed.
The stage of the construction of the town became the flood of 1824, when the water rose to 3,5 meters, and the town was completely filled with water, and many ships were thrown out on the coast. The wooden buildings especially suffered. After the flood the accent was displaced to the stone construction.
In 1854 the English-French squadron approached to the town, intending to pass to St. Petersburg, however the view to the Kronstadt fortifications and numerous forts compelled an enemy to turn back. By the beginning of the 20th century the powerful fortresses and forts constructed and constantly modernised under the last achievement of a military science, and also the battery on the northern and southern coasts of the Finnish gulf met an enemy. Many structures had not analogues in world military architecture.
|The tower of the fort of Kronshlot. Under the model of Peter I.|
In the town there was a lot of higher military establishments and trade port, which brought to treasury the huge income. Here the loads were overloaded from foreign ships to the barges and passed a customs house. Further load was sent in St. Petersburg. Later the town lost its importance as a port. The sea channel which allowed large ships to reach directly St. Petersburg was constructed. Today because of shortage of port capacities of Russia and the construction of the dam, connected the town with the continent, the plans on development of Kronstadt ports appeared again, that promises to the town the improvement of its financial position.
The bright pages of domestic navigation, shipbuilding and Russian science are connected with Kronstadt. The first Russian steamship made its indicative trip from the capital to Kronstadt, first in the world the ice-breaker was constructed on this island. In the local hospital an anaesthetic was applied for the first time in Russia, here the phenomenon of reflection of radio-waves from the ships was discovered.
The town dwellers actively participated in revolutionary events. The part of "revolutionary sailors" participated in excitements of 1905-1907 and in destruction of Russian state in 1917. Other part tried to stop the revolutionary events and revolted (March 1921). Despite of heroic resistance of the island, cut off from the continent, the red gangs rushed into the town passed the gulf on ice and arranged in Kronstadt bloody massacre.
During the Patriotic war of 1941-1945 the town was exposed to bombardments from two sides. From the north there were the Finnish troops, from the south - the German. However, the town was not seized by the enemy, though it suffered hardest losses. Moreover, the powerful guns of the town-fortress rendered a serious loss to the enemy, supported the operations of overland troops.
|The fort of Risbank ("Pavel I"). The project.|
The history of the town is connected with activity of many outstanding people among which there were architects, painters, scientists, writers, poets, inventors and seafarers.
The first Russian round-the-world expedition under the command of Kruzenstern and Lisjansky was begun just in Kronstadt, from here Lazarev and Belingsgausen left in an Antarctic expedition.
Places of interest
The Sea Cathedral is considered as the main sight of the town. The construction of the temple was completed in 1913. The architect Kosjakov, the author of the project, taken for a basis the Sofia cathedral in Istanbul. Height of the cathedral achieves 70,6 meters (the Sea cathedral is well seen from the coast of the gulf), and the diameter of the dome is almost 27 meters. In the temple the marble boards with names of the lost seamen were established. Only 16 years the building was used on purpose, and then in 1929 the communist's authority closed the cathedral and destroyed all, that they could, the crosses and the bells were thrown down, the internal fresco of the walls and domes was plastered, the altar was broken. Then in the cathedral there were a club, cinema, the branch of a House of officers and a museum. I recommend not to come inside of the museum, but to see the building outside.
|The Marine cathedral.|
The monument to the Admiral Makarov is the most beautiful and known monument of Kronstadt, it is placed on the square before the Sea cathedral. The admiral is known by its huge contribution to military shipbuilding and battle merits, among which the first torpedo attacks on enemy's ships are. Makarov participated in round-the-world trips, conducted various scientific researches, was awarded with a gold medal of Russian Geographical society. During 5 years Makarov commanded the port. In 1904 the admiral left Kronstadt to take part in Russian-Japanese war. April 13 he was lost.
Kronstadt and St. Petersburg disputed for the right to establish a monument to the admiral. As a result the bronze figure of Makarov occupied a place in Kronstadt on a granite stone about 160 tons weight.
|The monument to the admiral S. O. Makarov in the Jakornaja square.|
Since 1707 in Kronstadt there is the service, the purpose of which is to determine fluctuations of a sea level. Near the Blue bridge through the bypass channel the pig-iron ruler is put. On it there are the porcelain stitches. One of them designates a zero mark, from which the sea level is counted. And you will find out, that the sea level is on some centimetres below or above than sea level!
The ships and submarines of Russian military naval fleet, standing at the moorings, are the sight of the town, too. Without any doubt, there are not many places in the country, where it is possible to look at battle engineering from distance of some tens meters. The military ships and submarines are situated near the granite quays and majestic monuments. They create an illusion of indissolubility of the Russian history. It is possible to imagine, that from the ship the officers, which are a pride and a support of the country, descend, go on quays, for example, in a building of Officer Assembly...
Through the Petrovsky ravine the foot Makarovsky bridge passes. The bridge not only is beautiful, but also is located in a picturesque place, is surrounded by high trees. I recommend you to take a walk through it in the evening.
|The Makarovsky bridge.|
Kronstadt is decorated by the monuments to Peter I, Bellingsgauzen, Popov, Pakhtusov, to the ships "October revolution" and "Oprichnik". The ancient buildings of Officer Assembly, of the military hospital, of the Italian palace, etc. are interesting.
Photo-gallery of Kronstadt. Monuments and panoramas.