Kronstadt – is the port city which is located on the Kotlin Island in the Finnish Gulf, not far from St. Petersburg. It is connected to St. Petersburg by a bridge, which is also a dam that protects northern capital from flooding. Kronstadt is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as it has many architectural monuments and is of great historical value. The naval base located in this city repeatedly played a fateful role in the history of the Russian Empire and modern Russia. Population of the city is only 45 thousand people and is part of St. Petersburg, as a district. The city name is pronounced as Kronshtadt.
In the early 18th century, Kotlin Island belonged to the Swedes and was a maritime boundary between Russia and Sweden at that time. But in the winter of 1704, when the Swedish naval fleet sailed for wintering to its native land, a Russian fortress was erected on the island by the order of Peter the Great – the Emperor of All Russian lands. When the Swedes returned, they found out that it was no longer their island, and the favorite military confrontation between the two powers of that time continued with renewed vigor.
From the 1720s, Kronstadt became the main Russian naval base of the Baltic Fleet, and the town began to overgrow with the buildings and infrastructure. A large part of the city was damaged as a result of a fire in 1764 and flood of 1824, but each time Kronstadt was restored in its better form.
In 1905, 12 years before the Great Revolution, which laid the foundation of the Soviet Union, an uprising began on Kronstadt with political demands: a democratic republic, universal suffrage and extermination of class inequality. But even after Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, the people of Kronstadt continued to demand more democratic freedoms, and again the uprising was suppressed with great blood among the protesters. During 1922, the remaining population was exported to different parts of Russia.
During the World War II, on September 23, 1941, the Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht Air Force) attack on Kronstadt took place. During the raid, Kronstadt suffered great destruction of both buildings and ships, but stood firm. In the winter, provisions and ammunition were delivered over a frozen bay and in summer by boats, but the city was not handed over.
In 1996, Kronstadt ceased to be a closed territory for entry for both Russians and foreigners, as military city of strategic importance.
A few years ago to get to Kronstadt from St. Petersburg could only be on the water by ferry. But in 2011 a dam was built, which not only serves to protect Saint Petersburg from floods and also as a bridge connecting the island with a large land. After this event, the ferries were canceled as unnecessary, as to reach Kronstadt from St. Petersburg it became possible by various types of land transport: by bus, minibus, private car, taxi, and also by ship as part of the excursion.
Tips & tricks
Walk on the Kronstadt will impress even the most seasoned travelers; here the spirit of sea romance is in the air. Well, the most interesting thing about Kronstadt is forts, they are divided into three categories: that are possible to get to by foot or by car, forts you can reach by boat or by foot on ice in winter and the last category that are closed for visits at any time of the year. If you choose an independent tour, then it’s best to visit the Fort Grand Duke Constantine, you can reach it by taxi for 200 rubles (~$4) from bus stop 19th Kvartal. But for more comfort it is better to take a sightseeing tour bus + boat, for example you could book one on from Saint Petersburg – www.citycruises.ru
On the island you could also take a boat trip, which start from 11:30 am to 8 pm, but only in summer period (May – October). The point of departure and purchase of tickets: Arsenalnyy per., Winter Pier, Kronstadt.
There are a lot of interesting monuments on the island; one of the most picturesque is The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas and Anchors Square in front of it.
Take snacks with you, because it’s not cheap to eat in café on the island. Do not forget about the strong cold sea breeze, take warm clothes with you.
You can get to the island by your own from St. Petersburg in the following ways:
1) Bus #101 from subway station “Staraya Derevnya” (Old Village) to “Dom Byita” stop. Bus runs every 10-25 minutes. Plus 20 minutes by walk (1.5 km). The entire road will take you about 2 hours 10 minutes.
2) Minibus #K-405 from the subway station “Chernaya Rechka” (Black River) to “Ploschad Roshalya” every 10-20 minutes. Plus 7 minutes walking. Duration ~2 hours.