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The town of Kronstadt is situated on the small island of Kotlin in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland, 48 km west of Saint Petersburg. During the period from 1323 to 1617, the island of Kotlin (Retusari in Finnish, or Rat Island) was considered as a borderland between Russia and Sweden, at that time, it was an area with no people living in. The island was ceded to Sweden in 1617, but Russia regained it along with the Ingrian land from Sweden in the reign of Peter the Greatе.
The naval base on the island of Kotlin was built by order of Tsar Peter the Great. Construction of the fortness began in 1703, when Prince Menshikov set up a fort on the sandback of the south coast from a model, made by Peter himself. On 7 May 1704 the first fortifications, including two batteries, were constructed. This day is regarded as the date of Kronstadt founding.
The fortness's strategic location gave it a great importance and ensured that it was improved with the development of military and marine engineering by all Russian Tzars, starting with Peter the Great. Kronstadt has always been a major training center for the Russian Navy's staff, where served a whole number of the Russian fleet commanders, including admirals Feodor Ushakov, Georgy Spiridov, Dmitri Seniavin, Mikhail Lazarev, Pavel Nakhimov, Vladimir Kornilov, Stepan Makarov, as well as the most famous sea explorers such as Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern, and Yuri F. Lisianski, Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Vasili Golovnin, Friedrich Benjamin Lutke. The town has also been the home of important scientific inventions. Many distinguished people can be associated with Kronstadt. Among them are the prominent historian Nikolai Karamzin, the world-famous composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the well-known writer Ivan Goncharov; the renowned poet Nikolai Gumilev, the remarkable poet Semen Nadson etc.
Mutinies of the naval garrison took place in 1905 and 1906 and played a part in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. After a while, Kronstadt was the scene of an unsuccessful rebellion of the sailors against the communist government of the early Soviet state in March 1921. During the years of World War II (1939-1945), Kronstadt and the Baltic Fleet, based there, took park in defence of Tallinn, the island of Hanko. Artillery and naval forces of Kronshtadt played a major role in the courageous defense of the besieged city of Leningrad (the name for St. Petersburg in 1924-1990) against the Germans.
When strolling in the city, it makes sense to divide the city into two parts. The first walk will be devoted directly to the city, while the second will include its surroundings and visits to the city's sea forts. The best place to start exploring the city is the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral. The golden dome of this temple can be seen from almost anywhere in Kronstadt, while it is comparable with Istanbul's Hagia Sophia in size. Finding it is not difficult at all.
This recently restored cathedral has essentially become the primary tourist attraction of Kronstadt. Built in 1913 by architect Vasily Kosyakov in the neo-Byzantine style, the cathedral explicitly represents the greatness of the Baltic Fleet.
The final point of the stroll is the Konstantin Fort, recently turned into a tourist center offering a whole range of services. A small hotel, restaurant, and museum are also located here.