Peter I founded the city of Kronstadt

18 May 1704

May 7 (18), 1704, on Kotlin Island, Peter I founded a walled city, the port city of Kronstadt.

One of the first mentions of the Kotlin Island refers to 1269 - a contract between the city of Novgorod and Hansa. In 1323, according to the Treaty of Noteborg, the island served as a border between the Novgorod land, and later between Russia on the one hand and Sweden on the other. February 27 (March 9), 1617, according to the Treaty of Stolbovo, the island passed to the Swedes.

To implement the idea of Russia's outlet to the sea and the protection of the Neva Bay and of St. Petersburg from Swedish ships, Peter I decided to construct a fortress near the future capital. The emperor immediately appreciated the enormous strategic importance of Kotlin Island. In 1703, after the departure of the Swedish squadron to Vyborg to spend there the winter, Peter I began building a fortress on the island.

Model of the fortress was made by the emperor, and the construction was entrusted to Alexander Menshikov. By the end of 1704, a wooden three-storey tower with earthen mounds was built in the shallows near Kotlin. Wooden logs, filled with stones, which lowered into the water served as the foundation for its walls. The new fortress was armed with 14 guns, and to better protect the passage, a battery numbering 60 guns was built on the island itself. The work took place in an intense pace, and the following spring the Swedes, who began the navigation, found a fortress in the bay, which they regarded as theirs, and the fortress blocked them the way to the Neva Bay.

May 7 (18), 1704 the fortress was consecrated and named Kronshlot. This day is considered the founding date of the city of Kronstadt. Consecration of the new fortress took place in the presence of the emperor and was accompanied by a three-day celebration. Kronshlot commandant was instructed to take measures of caution when meeting the ships coming from the sea. The document said: "If something happens, defend the citadel with God's help to the last man."

The first fortification on Kotlin was St. John battery built in 1705 on the southern shore of the island. In the summer of 1706, a fortification of St. Alexander was constructed on the tail.

In 1704, service class people started settling on Kotlin Island. The first settlers of the fortress Kronshlot were the regiments of Tolbukhin and Ostrovsky, which formed the garrison of the island. Initial constructions were on the sea coast. By 1710, there were built about 80 houses mostly belonging to the military. January 16 (27), 1712 a decree was issued to resettle to Kotlin three thousand families. The active construction of houses began.

In the first years of its existence, the fleet was anchored near Kronshlot from early spring to late autumn and went to St. Petersburg only after frost. Such a procedure of annual Kotlin raid of the fleet was not suitable. After the victory in the Battle of Poltava in November 1709, the emperor ordered to start building harbors, marinas and shops on the island.

In 1719, the construction of the channel with a dock began, which dragged on for many years due to the lack of people and material. In 1732, in the reign of Anna Ioannovna, a commission was formed to explore the channel, headed by Maj. Gen. I. L. Lyuberas, who offered to broaden and deepen the dock basin so that the drain of water from the docks was faster. Inauguration of the docking system was held on July 30 (August 10) 1752, in the presence of the Empress Elizabeth. The length of the entire system was 2.24 kilometers. August 1 (11), the largest in the Russian Navy 120-gun ship "Empress Anna" entered the dock.

In 1789, on the southern shore of the docking basin, an iron foundry was built to manufacture ammunition for guns and ballast for stability of ships.

In October 1804, the water-supply was launched in Kronstadt, even earlier than in St. Petersburg.

July 26 (August 7), 1803, the sloops "Hope" and "Neva," under the leadership of I. F. Krusenstern and Yu. F. Lisyansky went to the first Russian circumnavigation from Kronstadt; and July 4 (16), 1819 two scientific expeditions, one led by F. F. Bellingshauzen and M. P. Lazarev, and the other by M. N. Vasilyev and G. S. Shishmarev also left the port of Kronstadt.

In 1707, appeared the foot-gauge service was created on the island. Its task was to determine the water level fluctuations. In 1856, in the courtyard of the Kronstadt Navigation School, the first Russian naval astronomical observatory was built. And in 1865, on the initiative of Lieutenant-Commander I. P. Belavenets, the country's first observatory of magnetic compasses was founded. For many years it had been the only one in Russia.

During the Northern War of 1700-1721, Kronshlot repeatedly repulsed the attacks of the fleet of Sweden, and in 1720s it became the main base of the Baltic Fleet. In the early 1780s, the Admiralty was translated there from St. Petersburg.

In 1854, during the Crimean War, Anglo-French squadron was trying to get to St. Petersburg, but retreated without a fight seeing numerous forts and fortifications of Kronstadt. In early spring of 1855, the bottom and floating mines from minefields designed by Academician B. S: Jacobi and entrepreneur E. Nobel were set up. In the summer of 1855, during the exploration of the North fairway, 4 enemy ships blew up on the world's first underwater minefield.

In March 1921, the garrison of Kronstadt and crews of some ships of the Baltic Fleet organized an armed rebellion against the Bolsheviks (Kronstadt uprising). Dissatisfied with the policy of "war communism", they demanded re-elections to the Soviets and expulsion of the Bolsheviks, freedom of speech, assembly and association for all parties, freedom of trade, permits for farmers to freely use the land and dispose of the products of their farms. Soon, the uprising was brutally suppressed.

During the Great Patriotic War, Kronstadt covered Leningrad from the sea and served as of "fire shield". Despite severe damage from heavy bombing and shelling, the repair facilities for the ships of the Baltic Fleet, the laboratory of demagnetization of ships and the submarine base continued to operate in the city, and the sailors who lived there, were constantly engaged in naval combat operations.

After the war, Kronstadt, as a military base, was closed to public access. In November 1996, the closed city was opened to visitors. Today, the many kilometers long "Complex of structures protecting St. Petersburg from flooding (GLC)" connects the island to St. Petersburg.


Lit.: Дорогов Н. Н. Исторический очерк и описание Кронштадта. СПб., 1908; Елагин С. И. Начало Кронштадта // Кронштадтский Вестник. 1866. № 1, 3, 5, 6; Ключников В. Ф. История города Кронштадта [Электронный ресурс] // Местная администрация города Кронштадта. 2012. URL:; Крестьянинов В. Я. Кронштадт: Крепость, город, порт. СПб., 2002; Петров Г. Ф. Кронштадт: Очерк истории города. Л., 1985; Раздолгин А. А., Скориков Ю. А. Кронштадтская крепость. Л., 1988; Тимофеевский Ф. А. Краткий исторический очерк двухсотлетия города Кронштадта. Кронштадт, 1913.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Вороневский В. Кронштадтская крепость - ключ к Ленинграду. Л., 1926;

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Дела Отделения Государственной Экономии. 1874 г. Об отчуждении имуществ под устройство корабельного канала между Кронштадтом и Невою [Дело] : 7 февраля - 31 июля. 1874. 6 л.;

Дело о предоставлении Комитету об устройстве города Кронштадта назначать к сломке и такие ветхие строения, кои находятся в споре или опеках [Дело] : начато 29 июля : Высочайше утверждено 4 ноября 1835 г. 1835. 11 л.;

Дело об учреждении общества вольных матросов в Кронштадте [Дело] : начато 15 марта : Высочайше утверждено 8 июля 1853 г. 1853. 24 л.;

Дуров Н. П. Материалы для истории строительного дела в России. Строители Петрова времени и работы их : канал Петра Великого в Кронштадте. СПб., 1862;

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Кронштадтский Андреевский собор : 1817 - LXXV - 1892 : 26-го августа : [исторический очерк] : издана в пользу Кронштадтского Андреевского собора : с портретами Филарета митрополита Московского и протоиерея Иоанна Ильича Сергиева и с видами собора наружным и внутренним. Кронштадт, 1892;

О продлении срока действия Положения о главном начальнике г. Кронштадта и учреждения Кронштадского градоначальства. 22 марта - 20 декабря [Дело]. 1910. 15 л.;

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Об отпуске кредита на достройку и оборудование Морского собора в Кронштадте. 5 апреля [Дело]. 1910. 12 л.;

Об отпуске средств на приобретение земельных участков для переустройства крепости Кронштадта. 1 августа [Дело]. 1909. 15 л.;

Об учреждении в городе Кронштадте портовой лаборатории [Дело] : начато 19 мая 1889 г. : Высочайше утверждено 23 января 1890 г. 1889. 16 л.;

Отчет о состоянии города Кронштадта за 1914 год [Дело]. 1914. 28 л.;

План г. Кронштадта с поселенными при нем слободами. Б/д [Дело]. 2 л.