Fortunately, at the time of its construction, King Charles XII of Sweden remained tied up in a war with Augustus II of Poland and Saxony, and in 1706 Peter ordered the bastions rebuilt in stone by architect Domenico Trezzini and engineer Burchard Christophe von Mimnich. In addition to the bastions he commissioned Trezzini to construct the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral inside the citadel. The fortress was completed in 1733 after more than two decades of work, and luckily no external enemy ever put it to the test, either before it was completed or after.
The bell-tower served as the city’s watchtower and became its signature building. Its gilded, angel-topped cupola stretched high into the sky symbolized Russia’s aspirations to become a European power. Among the other highlights of the fortress are the Commandant’s House, the Engineer’s House and the Mint.
To the east of the cathedral stands the Commandants’ cemetery - the designated burial location for those who served in prior positions in the Russian army. Nowadays the fortress encompasses a tomb at the base of the elegant spire and is the last resting place of every Russian ruler starting from Peter the Great to Alexander III. In 1998 the remains of Nicholas II and his family were also moved there to join the remains of their royal ancestors.
Go on a virtual tour of the Peter and Paul Fortress and see inside of the Cathedral too:
The Trubetskoy Bastion became home to one of Imperial Russia's most infamous prisons. Used for high-ranking political detainees, it became known as the “Russian Bastille” and housed such high profile prisoners as the leaders of the Decembrist Rebellion as well as writers Fedor Dostoyevsky and Maxim Gorky. By the 1870's, the prison was converted into a museum of history, which it remained for the later part of the Imperial period.
Further exhibits were later moved into the Engineer’s House, both of which serve today as tourist attractions. Additionally, a museum of Russian rocketry can be found on the grounds. And if you lose track of the time, the traditionally fired cannon everyday at noon from the Naryshkin Bastion will clue you in.