Visit Kronstadt

Kronstadt — Tour Of An Impregnable Russian Island

by Anna de Nord
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Kronstadt is a city of Russian naval glory. Situated ~20 km from St. Petersburg, it’s a nice place for a 1-day trip.

The city of Kronstadt lays on the island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. The island is not so big. The length of the island is about 12 km, the maximum width is less than 3 km, the area is about 16 square kilometres.

I’ve been to Kronstadt several times (I’m fond of Kronstadt in autumn, to tell the truth). But this visit was special as I’ve visited the city as a part of bloggers tour organized by the project Petersburg Inside. We spent a great day and learnt a lot of new things.

Why Kronstadt is a good idea for a 1-day trip from St. Petersburg?

  • The city is full of interesting sights and picturesque places.
  • Compared to St. Petersburg, Kronstadt is a calm place. What a joy to be able to wander quietly and to take photos of local sights with no crowds!
  • Kronstadt is a good place for every sea lover. Everything in the city is related to sea, fleet and sailors. Will you be able to count all the anchors on the streets of the city?
  • Kronstadt is beautiful at any time of year. Watching the sea and listening to the sound of waves is always pleasant. But frozen Finland Gulf during the winter months is spectacular too.

Our tour of Kronstadt began from the “bottom” — the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

Sightseeing in Kronstadt, Russia: Exposition of Underwater Archaeology
A former water tower, home of the Exposition of Underwater Archaeology

Main Attractions of Kronstadt

Exposition of Underwater Archaeology

The Museum of Underwater Archaeology occupies the building of a former water tower. But from the outside, it looks like a small palace. It’s not surprising because the construction was ordered by Russian Emperor Nicholas I. And where there’s a sign of Russian tsars, there’s also an unexpectedly splendid architecture.

The exhibition of the Museum tells us fascinating stories about maritime disasters from the past. It seems that Finland Gulf (where Kronstadt is situated) was a rather dangerous place for ships. So many vessels drowned there! Some of them are explored, others still keep their secrets.

Exposition of Underwater Archaeology, Kronstadt

Wandering in the halls, we see anchors, tableware, shoes, weapons, remains of ships… It’s not so surprising until you realize that all those things have been laying on the bottom of the Gulf for centuries! Most of them are in perfect condition. As our guide said, waters in Finland Gulf have special qualities which allow drowned objects to be well preserved. For instance, take a look at this tableware set. I could never imagine it spent almost 200 years on the sea bottom.

Exposition of Underwater Archaeology, Kronstadt, Russia

To sum up, at the end of the tour I was a bit jealous of all those underwater explorers who have the privilege to see what the sea hides. 

By the way, on the exit from the museum, turn to the left. In the yard, you’ll find an interesting open-air exposition of contemporary artists. All the exhibits are made of… trash! Plastic bottles and rusted wires became insects, portraits and animals.

Contemporary art on the streets of Kronstadt. Russia

Museum Of The History of Kronstadt

Russian Emperor Peter the Great found Kronstadt at the same time as St. Petersburg. 

The Museum of the History of Kronstadt reveals the 300-year story of the city. From the beginning, Kronstadt was supposed to be a fortress — the sea shield of St. Petersburg. And it played this role at its best. Kronstadt is one of the few cities in the world that has never been conquered by enemies.

Probably, the most terrible years for Kronstadt were the terrifying years of World War II. Surrounded by enemies, under heavy fire, with not enough food, Kronstadt inhabitants have not surrendered. In Kronstadt History Museum there’s a “Siege Room”. It’s a recreation of the life of the inhabitants of Kronstadt during those horrible years of siege.

Museum Of The History of Kronstadt

Kronstadt lays on a rather remote island at approximately 12 km from the mainland. The waters of the Finland Gulf are insidious (remember all those artefacts from the Exposition of Underwater Archaeology?) For these reasons, for many years Kronstadt remained almost unreachable. It all changed when a dam was constructed. And if you visit the Museum of History, you’ll also know what a genius construction this dam is!

Now when we have already been under the sea (Exposition of Underwater Archaeology) and on the ground (Museum Of The History of Kronstadt), let’s go to heaven!


Naval Cathedral

Naval Cathedral is the symbol of Kronstadt. Its shining gilded dome is visible even from the mainland. The white 70-meter high building looks splendid on the background of a blue sky. But the size is not the main merit of the Cathedral.

Like everything in Kronstadt, the Naval Cathedral reflects the maritime atmosphere of the city. For example, the dome is decorated with anchors and lamps are made in the form of ships. But the idea of the inner decorations is even more impressive. That’s what our wonderful guide revealed to us:

Though cathedrals are always places of the religious cult, the Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt has a special feature. Local sailors didn’t want just another church. They needed a place to commemorate their companions lost in seas and oceans. So the walls of the Naval Cathedral are decorated with black plates. On every plate there are golden inscriptions: these are the names of all perished in sea Russian sailors.

And one more striking detail of the inner decoration:

  • The dome is very high and blue, with golden birds. Like the sky.
  • The walls are finished with multicolour marble, a mix of grey, blue and green. Like water in the sea.
  • The ground is decorated with pictures of fish, seaweed, snakes. Like the bottom of the sea.

All together, they form a complete maritime universe! The plates with sailors names are places almost near the ground = the bottom. Drowned. The gilded letters on the plates shine like treasures.

It blew my mind! Though I’ve read a lot about the architecture of the Naval Cathedral, I have never encountered such an interpretation of its decoration. This is just extraordinary! I have nothing else to do but to thank once more the hospitable guides of Kronstadt.

And this wasn’t all. We also climbed to the upper level of the Cathedral, right under the dome. Goodness, how huge it is! Not mentioning the wonderful bird-eye view of the city and the Gulf.


Museum of Lighthouse

A new museum which opened in Kronstadt only 2 years ago. Small and cosy, the museum is full of light!

As for me, I like a lot of museums dedicated to one special topic or area. And the Museum of Lighthouse tells us the story of lighthouses from the beginning until the present time.

Museum of Lighthouse Service, Kronstadt, Russia

The hardest struggle about lighthouses was how to make a lighthouse visible from the longest possible distance. Technologies were different: from a fire on the top of a hill to contemporary lenses and LED. Hospitable guides of the Museum not only passionately speak about lighthouses but also demonstrate how all those wonderful devices work.

I even began dreaming of becoming a lighthouse keeper. Why not? I like the sea, technical devices and spiral staircases 😄

The collection of the Museum is constantly growing. Thus, I suppose when you visit it, you’ll see more than I’ve seen!

The museum occupies one of the buildings of the Fort Grand Duke Konstantin. So after the tour of the museum, let’s go outside and explore the fort.


Fort Konstantin 

Fort Konstantin is a magnificent architectural monument. Moreover, the cries of gulls, the sound of the sea, ships passing look so dreamy! 

Fort Konstantin in Kronstadt

Fort “Grand Duke Konstantin” opens all year round. It often hosts festivals and fun activities. Besides, visitors can take a boat trip and see the buildings of the Kronstadt fortress from water. Kronstadt Fortress is included in the UNESCO cultural heritage list, by the way. During the tour, you will learn about the purpose of each building and their role in protecting the borders of St. Petersburg.


Memorial Office Museum of the Inventor of the Radio, Alexander Popov

No doubt radio is one of the most significant achievements of the human mind. If you visit the inventor of the radio Alexander Popov, you will know how exactly the first radios worked.

How is radio related to Kronstadt?

Kronstadt is the place where the radio was invented. Did you know that radio was “seriously” used for the 1st time for saving people?

The Memorial Museum looks more like a laboratory. It’s full of wonderful devices which, I suppose, will be familiar to those who studied physics. The museum exhibits models of the world’s first radio receiver and lightning detector, as well as dozens of physical, measuring, television and radio devices.

The museum is nowadays situated in the Italian Palace, close to the port on the Finland Gulf.

As soon as we stepped out of the museum, we found ourselves in front of the magnificent maritime scenery.


What Else To Do In The City

  • If after all the museums you still have time, head to the port. This is a picturesque place at any time of year. You’ll certainly admire naval vessels, boats for touristic tours, seagulls, a fairway sign (lighthouse) and lots of anchors.
  • Wander in one of the parks. The biggest ones are Petrovsky Park and Summer Garden. They lay close to each other so don’t hurry and take your time.
  • Visit Cathedral of Vladimir Icon of Our Lady. This is one of the oldest churches in the city. Its main shrine was Vladimir Icon of Our Lady, painted in 1703 by the order of Peter the Great. For many years, the defenders of Kronstadt prayed there for the victory of Russian weapons. It’s sad but during the Soviet era, the cathedral lost almost all its treasures. Fortunately, after years of neglect, the Cathedral was restored.
  • Take a tour of the forts of Kronstadt. Nowadays, 23 forts are surrounding the city, and some of them open for visiting.
Sunset over the port of Kronstadt

Where To Eat

Restaurant Fart. A large restaurant situated close to the main attractions of Kronstadt. Much space, cosy calm atmosphere, good food. Would be nice for lunch with a large company.
Address: 3, Kommunisticheskaya Street

Craft-cafe Gde-to Leto. Nice place for a quick snack. Located very close to the Naval Cathedral. Guests can opt for a cup of coffee and something sweet like buns.
Address: 33Б, Sovetskaya Street


How To Get To Kronstadt

The most convenient way to get to Kronstadt from St. Petersburg is to take a bus. Buses leave from different metro stations:

  • Bus 101 leaves from Staraya Derevnya metro station;
  • Bus K405 leaves from Chernaya Rechka station;
  • Bus K407 leaves from Prospect Prosveshcheniya station.

Cost: ~100 Rub per one-way ticket. No pre-booking needed. It takes 30-40 min to get to Kronstadt form St. Petersburg.

Don’t forget to check the post about public transportation in St. Petersburg.

Visitors can also take a taxi to Kronstand. Besides, many travel agencies organize group tours of the city.


Travel Tips For Visiting Kronstadt

  • Think of starting your tour of Kronstadt early in the morning. Thus you’ll have enough time to visit the main attractions. Your trip will be jam-packed, and probably you’ll realize that you want to spend +1 day in Kronstadt.
  • If you visit museums, opt for guided tours. Guides will reveal you hundreds of secrets and tell you hundreds of fascinating stories.
  • Think of buying St. Petersburg City Card. First of all, the St. Petersburg City Card helps to save money. At the price of 66 USD, it gives you free access to more than 70 museums in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas. Secondly, with St. Petersburg Card you can receive many special offers like discounts on hotels, restaurants and city tours.
    To know more about St. Petersburg City Card, check its official site.

P. S. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the post, the tour to the Museum of Lighthouse was organized by the awesome team of the project Petersburg Inside. The goal of the Petersburg Inside is worthy of respect. They are making us, travellers and bloggers, discover hidden gems and places off the beaten track. Hence, making travelling smarter and more diverse.

General partner of the project Petersburg Inside: Moscow Credit Bank. Official partner: “Odniklassniki”. Project Team: Newspaper Metro, St.Petersburg City Card and the Community of St. Petersburg Bloggers. Petersburg Inside Website – http://petersburginside.com

For instance, check posts about Stroganov Palace, Museum of Cosmonautics and Museum of Theatre and Music. Each of them is worth including to your bucket list especially if you want to escape the tourist crowds and lines. 

I hope now you know a little bit more about hidden gems in Russia and this post will inspire you to include Kronstadt to your bucket list 🙂

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Best wishes from Russia,
Anna

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