Northern Fortress - Shlisselburg

History of Oreshek (Schlusselburg) fortress

The fortress was built in 1323 by knjaz of Novgorod Jury Danilovich. Fortress name has obtained his origin from the form of island where it has been located - Oreshek (a nut). In 1352 - the first stone walls were erected. In the end of XV century fortress was reconstructed and it had 10 towers, a citadel and internal channel-harbour.

In September, 1611 the fortress was besieged by Swedes, and on May, 1612 russian garrison was forced to surrender. Swedes have renamed fortress Noteburg (Nut city).

During the Northern War on October 11, 1702 fortress was full after 10-day bombardment by russian army under command B.Sheremetev. Peter the Great took part in this storm as bombardment-captain. After that fortress was renamed again and became the Shlisselburg (Schlusselburg) that means "key city".

From the beginning of XVII century the Shlisselburg has lost it's military value and began to use as a political prison. Members of imperial family, disgraced favorites, "decembrists", participants of the Polish revolt, member of terroristic organization "Narodnaja Volja" (People's Will) and other VIP's were prisoners of this fortress.

In February 1917 all prisoners were released by revolution people, prison buildings were burned and destroyed. From 1928 to 1940 the museum of Proletarian Revolution was here.

From 1941 to 1944 front line passed through the fortress. Germans have not taken the fortress, but destroyed it severely.

In 1966 restore works have begun, Old and "New" (Narodovolcheskaja) prison have been restored. There are the exhibitions devoted to "decembrists" and "Narodnaja Volja" society members established here. Part of the fortress wall and three towers are restored too.


This is the genuine ancient russian fortress in one and half hour electric train journey from S-Petersburg city. The fortress is seen just from the electric train window and this sight is very impressive. Entrance to fortress is free of charge.

Inside of fortress was quiet and uninhabited and very hot. There were the striped stall with sleepy saleswoman selling warm beer and the sleepy "muzhik" (local man) with scythe. The student's kind hairy young people in sandals rambled around grassy fortress yard. The company of local men with hot local women and warm local beer was rested on the fortress wall. It was summertime midday..

There are many places for climbing in the fortress, but protective helmet is strictly recommended because danger of collapse of the old walls. The numerous inscriptions inside the fortress say: "Restricted area! Danger of collapse!". It is true. Possibility to get a brick in your head is very high.

Impression as a whole is very good and warm in despite of rough history of this place. There was the most terrible prison in Russia so even formidable revolutionaries went mad here and committed suicide (as it is written on memorial boards which fixed everywhere).

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