Kronstadt is a city of Russian naval glory. It is situated on Kotlin Island in the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. The island is not so big. However, there are so many attractions in Kronstadt that you might want to spend there more than just one day.
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General info about Kronstadt
Kronstadt is a port in the northern part of Russia. The town is located on Kotlin Island, in the Gulf of Finland. Officially, in 2006, Kronstadt became a district of St Petersburg. However, locals are used to considering Kronstadt as a separate town.
Population: 45 000 people
Time zone: GMT +3 (Moscow time)
Though Kronstadt is a popular destination for locals, it is not well known among foreigners. That is not surprising.
Kronstadt lies on an island, twenty kilometres from the mainland. For almost 300 years, it was possible to get to Kronstadt only by water. In summer, people used ferries or boats to get to the island. In winter, the Gulf of Finland freezes. Thus, during the cold season, it was possible to get to Kronstadt by sledging on ice.
At present, there is a dam between Kotlin Island to the mainland. It protects St Petersburg from floods. The dam is also a bridge that we use to get to Kronstadt by car.
Facts about Kronstadt:
- Kronstadt has more than 300 historical and cultural monuments. The town is included in the UNESCO Heritage list.
- The world’s first frogman school was established in Kronstadt. It happened in 1882 on the order of Russian emperor Alexander III.
- The town is the birthplace of modern icebreakers. The first icebreaker “Pilot” was made in Kronstadt in… 1864!
- Forty-one round-the-world expeditions departed from Kronstadt. The manning of the crews and the preparation of ships for these voyages took place in this city. During those expeditions, those ship crews made 56 geographical discoveries.
- Kronstadt played a crucial role in the defence of Leningrad during World War II. The heroic inhabitants of the island did not allow the Nazis to invade Leningrad from the Gulf of Finland.
One of the streets of Kronstadt has a unique pavement. This pavement is made of… cast iron! It is almost the only cast-iron pavement in the world that has survived to this day.
By the way, there is a local legend about the iron pavement. People believe that if a girl or woman dances on the pavement, making a cherished wish, the wish will certainly come true.
Places of interest in Kronstadt
The main attractions of Kronstadt are forts, historical museums, parks with monuments, and churches. Kronstadt is a port and a museum under the open sky. It was founded in 1704, only one year later than St Petersburg. Though the town is small, it has dozens of places to visit. The main sights of Kronstadt are:
- Admiralty. The history of Kronstadt is closely related to the shipbuilding and Russian Navy. The Admiralty was one of the central places of the seaport.
- Kronstadt tide gauge. A tide gauge is a device for sea-level observations.
- Makarovsky Bridge is an old bridge not far from the Naval Cathedral.
- Monument to Peter the Great, the founder of Kronstadt
- Forts of Kronstadt. Forts are defensive structures on the southern and northern sides of Kotlin Island. They surround the island. Most of them are in a bad condition. However, they still impress with their brick walls. In summer, you can take a boat trip and see the forts closely.
Churches and cathedrals:
- The Naval Cathedral is probably the most known attraction of Kronstadt. This impressive white cathedral with a gilded dome is a church-monument to the sailors.
- Vladimir Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the town.
Parks and squares:
- Summer Garden and Petrovsky Park are cosy and quiet.
- The Anchor Square. This square in front of the Naval Cathedral is the largest and the most picturesque square Kronstadt.
- The Land of Forts. The Land of Fort is an open-air museum dedicated to the Navy and Russian sea explorers.
- Museum of the History of Kronstadt. The Museum is dedicated to the story of the town — from its foundation until present times.
- Museum of Underwater Archaeology will bring you to the fascinating world of drowned ships and underwater treasures of the Gulf of Finland.
- Memorial Museum of the inventor of the radio Alexander Popov.
- Fort Grand Duke Konstantin is a historical park on the territory of one of the old fortresses.
- Museum of Lighthouses is the place where you can learn the story of lighthouses and other navigation devices.
Weather in Kronstadt
The weather in Kronstand is usually windy, cloudy, and quite rainy. It is similar to the climate in St Petersburg. However, I always have the feeling that the air in Kronstadt is cleaner. The town does not have many industrial plants. Besides, Kronstadt is very green.
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.
A one-way ticket costs ~100 Rub (1.2 USD). No pre-booking needed. The road from St Petersburg to Kronstadt takes 30-40 min.
• Related post: Guide to public transportation in St Petersburg
On a hydrofoil
You can also get to Kronstadt by sea. There are hydrofoils “Meteor” that sail between St Petersburg and Kronstadt. The “Meteor” departs from the Universitetskaya Embankment (University Embankment) in St Petersburg. A round trip costs 1700-2000 Rub (23-27 USD). The hydrofoils run only during the navigation season: from late April to October. If the weather is bad, hydrofoils may be cancelled.
I advise you to get to Kronstadt by bus. First, buses run all year round, not depending on the weather. Second, with a bus, you are free to spend as much time as you like in Kronstadt. With a “Meteor”, you will have only 3-4 hours to explore the town. And 3 hours are not at all enough to see the attractions of Kronstadt.
So how many days do you need to explore Kronstadt?
How many days you need in Kronstadt
You can see the main attractions of Kronstadt in two days. You will have time to visit the main attractions: the Naval Cathedral and the Anchor Square, the Admiralty and the canals, monuments to prominent Russian admirals Stepan Makarov and Faddey Bellinghausen, a monument to Peter the Great in Petrovsky Park, Italian Palace of Prince Menshikov and the harbour of Kronstadt.
However, I am sure that a curious traveller would want to come back to Kronstadt and to see more.
2-days guide to Kronstadt
Day 1. Wander in the town to feel its unique atmosphere.
If you like pedestrian walks, Kronstadt is the right place for you. It is impossible to get lost there (remember — you are on an island!)
Kronstadt is full of charming and picturesque places. Those are not necessarily museums but just old buildings. Some of them are well reserved, and the others are semi-ruined. The historical centre of Kronstadt reminds me of New Holland Island in St Petersburg. Everything makes me think of Russian emperor Peter the Great and his passion for shipbuilding. Perfect rectangular docks, straight canals, cannons in the harbour and — what I admire the most — large old red-brick buildings.
While wandering in Kronstadt, try to count all anchors. You will see authentic anchors on the streets, small anchor decorations on buildings and the biggest anchor on Anchor Square.
Counting anchors in Kronstadt is like counting lions in St Petersburg!
Compared to St Petersburg, Kronstadt is a calm place. What a joy to roam quietly with no crowds!
You might be also interested in exploring the “Land of Forts”, a new landmark of the town. The “Land of Forts” is an open-air museum of the history of the Navy. At present, the central part of this park is the Alley of Admirals. It is dedicated to Russian admirals, sea explorers, and important events from the Russian navy history.
Day 2. Visit the museums of Kronstadt
I have been to Kronstadt many times. But one of my visits was special. In the company of other travel bloggers, we made a tour of the museums of Kronstadt. The press trip was organized by the project “Petersburg Inside”. We had a jam-packed itinerary — and it was an extraordinary day!
You might want to visit the museums of Kronstadt too. So this is what you can find.
• Naval Cathedral
The Naval Cathedral is the symbol of Kronstadt. You can see its shining gilded dome even from the mainland! The white 70-meter-high cathedral looks splendid in the background of a blue sky. However, the size is not the most striking feature of the Naval Cathedral.
Architect: Vassily Kosyakov
The Naval Cathedral is a monument to Russian naval officers who died during their service. It is not just a church, it is also a monument — pay attention to it! Later you will see how the architect brilliantly implemented this idea of commemoration in the cathedral design.
Like everything in Kronstadt, the Naval Cathedral reflects the maritime atmosphere of the town. You will find a lot of nautical ornaments in the decoration of the Cathedral. For example, the dome is decorated with anchors, and lamps are made in the form of ships.
The interior of the Naval Cathedral is even more impressive. Inside, the cathedral looks like a model of the sea:
— The floor of the Naval Cathedral is decorated with pictures of fish, seaweed, and snakes. It is the bottom of the sea.
— The lower part of the walls is decorated with black memorial plates. Each plate has golden inscriptions. Those inscriptions are the names of the naval officers drowned in the seas. The gilded letters on the plates shine like treasures.
— The central part of the cathedral is airy and bright. There you notice Orthodox saints and — obviously — details that remind us of the sea. The walls are finished with multicolour marble. The mix of grey, blue and green colours looks like water in the sea.
— and finally comes the dome. It is as blue as the sky. Golden birds fly there.
Altogether, the floor, the walls and the dome turn the cathedral into a maritime universe. And this is also a place to commemorate heroic sailors who did not come back to the land.
The idea of the decoration of the Naval Cathedral blew my mind! I have read a lot about the architecture of the Naval Cathedral. But I have never encountered such an interpretation of its decoration. And I would not know if I had not visited the cathedral with a guide.
Hence, travel tip: opt for a guided tour of the Naval Cathedral. You can book a guided tour in the stall at the entrance to the cathedral.
P.S. I also climbed to the upper level of the Cathedral, right under the dome. The size of the dome is impressive, to say the least. And through the windows, you can enjoy the astonishing bird-eye view of the town and the Gulf of Finland.
• Museum Of The History of Kronstadt
Address: 2A, Yakornaya Square, Kronstadt.
The Museum of the History of Kronstadt reveals the 300-year story of the town. The expositions let us know more about the construction of the fortresses of Kronstadt, the everyday life of locals and sailors, and about traditions of the town.
Russian Emperor Peter the Great founded Kronstadt at the beginning of the 18th century. Thus, Kronstadt is of the same age as St Petersburg. In the museum, you will see what Kotlin Island looked like 300 years ago.
From the beginning, Kronstadt was supposed to be a fortress — the sea shield of St Petersburg. The island was thoroughly fortified. Kronstadt is one of the fortresses in the world that has never been conquered by enemies.
One of the expositions of the museum is dedicated to the horrible years of World War II. Kronstadt was surrounded by enemies. But despite constant shellings, hunger, and cold, Kronstadt inhabitants have not surrendered to the Nazis! In the Kronstadt History Museum, you can see a “Blockade Room”. It shows the conditions of the inhabitants of Kronstadt during the war years.
As you remember, Kronstadt is situated on an island. For many years It was difficult to get there. Things changed after the construction of the dam. And if you visit the Museum of History, you will also know what an impressive construction this dam is!
• Museum of Underwater Archaeology
Address: 2, Leningradskaya Street, Kronstadt
Ticket: 200 Rub (3 USD)
The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is dedicated to the history of maritime disasters. The Gulf of Finland was a rather dangerous place for ships. So many vessels drowned there! Some of them are explored, others still keep their secrets.
The Museum occupies the building of a former water tower. From the outside, this water tower looks like a small palace. Why so?
The water tower was constructed in the 19th century on the order of Russian Emperor Nicholas I. And where there is a Russian emperor, there is a palace (or a palace-like building).
The exhibitions of the Museum of Underwater Archaeology take us to the fascinating world of maritime trips.
While wandering in the halls, you will see anchors, tableware, shoes, weapons, remains of ships… All those objects have been staying on the bottom of the Gulf for centuries! Most of them are in perfect condition.
As our guide said, the water of the Gulf of Finland has a unique composition. This composition of water elements preserves well all the drowned objects. For instance, take a look at this tableware set. I could never imagine it spent almost 200 years on the sea bottom.
To sum up, at the end of the museum tour, I was a bit jealous of all those underwater explorers who have the privilege to see what the sea hides.
At the exit from the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, turn to the left. In the yard, you will 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.
• Museum of Lighthouses
Address: Fort Konstantin, Kronstadt
Ticket: 400 Rub (6USD)
The Museum of Lighthouses in Kronstadt tells us the story of lighthouses from ancient times until the present time.
The Museum of Lighthouses opened in 2017. It is situated in one of the fortresses of Kronstadt — fort Konstantin. The museum occupies the building of a restored military barrack that has existed since 1866. Small and cosy, the museum is full of light!
In the museum, you will see lighthouse models, giant lighthouse lenses and devices used on lighthouses, buoys and navaids. The collection of the museum is constantly growing. Thus, I suppose when you visit it, you will see more than I have seen!
And the story of lighthouses let us dive into history.
The main challenge 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 passionately speak about lighthouses and demonstrate how all those devices work.
I even began dreaming of becoming a lighthouse keeper. Why not? I like the sea, technical devices and spiral staircases!
The Museum of Lighthouses 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 one of the forts that made up the system of defensive structures around Kronstadt. Its story starts in 1807. At that time, there were talks about a possible war with England. And Russian emperor Alexander I ordered to strengthen the Kronstadt fortress.
Note: Kronstadt Fort Konstantin is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Fort Konstantin is a spectacular architectural monument. I am sure that you will want to wander on this island and to enjoy the spectacular landscapes. Old military barracks, robust fortress walls, the cries of gulls, the sound of the sea, ships passing by are so poetic!
The fort “Grand Duke Konstantin” opens all year round. It is a cultural space that often hosts festivals and historical expositions. Visitors also can take a boat trip and see the buildings of the Kronstadt fortress from the sea. During the tour, you will learn about the purpose of each building and its role in protecting the borders of St Petersburg.
• Memorial Museum of Alexander Popov, the Inventor of the Radio
Address: 3, Makarovskaya Street, Kronstadt
Did you know that the radio was invented in Kronstadt? Yes, it was!
No doubt radio is one of the most significant achievements of the human mind. If you visit the Museum of the inventor of the radio Alexander Popov, you will know how exactly the first radios worked.
The Memorial Museum of Alexander Popov looks like a laboratory. It is full of intricate devices. The museum displays models of the first radio receiver and lightning detector, as well as dozens of physical, measuring, television and radio devices.
By the way, for the first time, the radio was used to save people.
The Memorial Museum of Alexander Popov is situated in the Italian Palace, close to the port on the Finland Gulf. As soon as you leave the museum, you will find yourself in front of the magnificent maritime landscape. Cross the road and explore old cannons. They are displayed on the embankment of the Italian Pond. You will see cannons that were created at the times of Peter the Great. You might also see some young people climb on those cannons to take photos. Do not follow their example! Remember that this is not a playground.
What else to see in Kronstadt
- If after visiting all the museums you still have time, head to the harbour.
The harbour of Kronstadt is charming at any time of year. You will come across naval vessels, boats for touristic tours, seagulls, a fairway sign (lighthouse) and lots of anchors.
- Wander in the parks of Kronstadt. The largest parks are Petrovsky Park and Summer Garden. Petrovsky Park is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. There you will find the monument to the founder of Kronstadt, emperor Peter the Great.
The Summer Garden is very calm and green. I advise you to go there to see the magnificent fence and the gate that surround the garden.
- Visit the Cathedral of Vladimir Icon of Our Lady. It is one of the oldest churches in the city. Its main pride was the Vladimir Icon of Our Lady. The icon was painted in 1703 on the order of Peter the Great. For many years, the defenders of Kronstadt prayed in this church for the victory of Russian weapons. During the Soviet era, the cathedral lost almost all its treasures. Fortunately, after years of neglect, the cathedral was restored.
- Take a boat tour of the forts of Kronstadt. Nowadays, 23 forts are surrounding the city, and some of them open for visiting.
- Visit the State nature reserve ”Western Kotlin”. “Western Kotlin” is an ecological path in the western part of Kronstadt. It is an itinerary that goes along the shore of the Gulf of Finland, through the forests and beaches. You will also see old fortresses and canals. They date back to the 18th century.
Where to eat in Kronstadt
• Restaurant “Fart”
A large restaurant situated close to the main attractions of Kronstadt. Much space, calm atmosphere, good food. It is a good restaurant for lunch with a large company.
Address: 3, Kommunisticheskaya Street
• Restaurant “Old Kotlin”
The interior of the restaurant looks like a ship cabin. You will enjoy cold starters, fresh salads and a variety of hot dishes. Do not forget to try borscht, a traditional Russian soup.
Address: 29, Karl Liebknecht Street
• Cafe “Gde-to Leto”
It is a small cafe for a quick snack. The cafe is located very close to the Naval Cathedral. Guests can opt for a cup of coffee and something sweet like buns.
Address: 33, Sovetskaya Street
• Cafe “Brioche”
The cafe “Brioche” is a good place for breakfast or afternoon tea. It offers a variety of non-alcoholic drinks like coffees, teas, smoothies and cocktails. There are Belgian waffles, but I would advise you to try syrniki — Russian pancakes made of cottage cheese.
Address: 33Б, Sovetskaya Street
Travel tips for visiting Kronstadt
Start your tour of Kronstadt early in the morning. Thus, you will have enough time to visit the main sights. Your trip will be jam-packed, and probably you will realize that you want to spend one more day in Kronstadt.
You can wander in the city on your own. However, if you visit museums, book guided tours. Guides will reveal hundreds of secrets and tell you hundreds of fascinating stories.
Remember that the weather in Kronstadt is windy and rainy. Think to bring with you a foldable windbreaker. These windbreakers are waterproof and windproof. And they are lightweight! I always bring with me my windbreaker. If it is too hot, I just fold it and put it in my bag.
Have you visited Kronstadt? What did you like the most?