Trubetskoy Bastion - Infamous, but Popular Attraction

When Tsar Peter the Great founded the magnificent city of St Petersburg, one of the very first buildings that he had built was the Peter and Paul Fortress. That was in 1703 – more than three hundred years ago. Despite its age, the fortress still stands firm today and it is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. In fact it is so often associated with the city that it has become its emblem. The fortress itself is home to the St Petersburg City History Museum headquarters while the fortress’ prison and Trubetskoy Bastion is just one aspect of this incredibly fortress with historical interest.

When St Petersburg was founded, Russia was at the threshold of a new era of the country’s history. Peter the Great had plans to extend and glorify his kingdom and St Petersburg was to be the new gateway to Eastern Europe. As the new capital of Russia, the city would need protection. The fortress was the answer. Situated on the Gulf of Finland which is just off the Baltic Sea, building the city of St Petersburg was no easy task. Extensive waterways had to be redirected and controlled and flooding was commonplace. There were a number of islands and the Peter and Paul Fortress was built on one of these.

Fortunately the city never really saw any wartime action. Because the Peter and Paul Fortress remained largely unused, it was decided in 1870 that a part of the fortress complex should be converted into a high-security political prison which was completed two years later. The result was the Russian version of the French Bastille which came to be known as the Trubetskoy Bastion. In those difficult and early times, the Bastion came to see a number of prominent inmates. These included the writers Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Dostoyevsky and Gorky, Vladimir Lenin’s older brother Alexander and even Peter the Great’s own son Alexei. Interestingly, this rebellious son was one of the first people to become imprisoned at the prison. He met a brutal fate here at the young age of just 28.

Earlier this century, it was decided that the Trubetskoy Bastion should be converted into a museum wherein the horrors of the Tsarist regime could be showcased. This somewhat morbid display now attracts hundreds of curious visitors each year and may even fascinate you. Why not check out the Trubestkoy Bastion when you next visit St Petersburg?


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