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Peter and Paul Fortress

From the cobbled streets of the city, we unexpectedly fell into the very centre of the Neva River. It was cold from the water; hence, we wrapped ourselves in warm clothes, however, the cold struck through them. Our attention was drawn to the spire and walls of the fortress (with a flag, i. e. a symbol of the Russian navy, on its façade) on the opposite side of the Neva River.

The Peter and Paul Fortress is the oldest building in Saint Petersburg. It was founded in 1703 by decree of Peter the Great and created according to the plan of the French engineer Lambert. Petersburgers constantly remember about the fortress. Exactly at noon, a gunshot is heard from it sending a signal to the townspeople that the day has entered the zenith. I was particularly pleased that the shot from the cannon rang out just during our voyage.

It is curious that the Peter and Paul Fortress was never used for its intended purpose — as a fortress. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Peter and Paul Cathedral was built in the fortress by the project of the first architect of Saint Petersburg — Italian Domenico Trezzini. For two centuries, Russian tsars were buried there, starting from Peter the Great to Alexander III of Russia.

From the very beginning, the premises of the fortress became a political prison and remained so until the 20th century. In 1849, in the Peter and Paul Fortress, for 8 months, Fyodor Dostoevsky, the genius of Russian literature, was serving in a penitentiary in anticipation of the death penalty, which was abolished only at the last moment.

Shortly after coming to power, the Communists decided to raze the Peter and Paul Fortress to the ground and build a stadium in its place. By a happy coincidence, this barbaric plan of the Communists was not realized. No external conquerors hurt Russia more than the Communists.

I have never had the pleasure of looking at cemeteries or prisons. Therefore, I did not have any desire to inspect the Peter and Paul Fortress from the inside. External strict grace was entirely enough for me.

We sailed the Neva River. My attention was attracted by the majestic columns at the stock exchange building. The guide briefly shared historical facts with us and Sasha translated some of them to me. I was increasingly amazed by the abundance of foreign names among the architects of Saint Petersburg.

The stock exchange building and rostral columns were built at the beginning of the 19th century according to the design of the Frenchman Jean-François Thomas de Thomon and the appearance of the square was completed according to the design of the Italian Giovanni Luchini. The statues of sea deities at the foot of the columns are made by French sculptors Joseph Camberlain and Jacques Thibault. However, everything was built, of course, by Russian masters.


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