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Fort Alexander I or Plague Fort

Fort Alexander I

Fort Alexander I or more commonly known as a Plague Fort is located in the Finish Gulf of the Baltic Sea just few miles from Saint Petersburg (capital of the Russian Empire at the time).



Location: Leningrad Oblast  Map





Description of Fort Alexander I or Plague Fort

Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I

Fort Alexander I or Plague Fort was constructed in 1838- 45 under supervision of Russian- French engineer Moris Gugovich Destrem (Jean Antoine Maurice) and Mikhail von der Veide as a military bastion to defend former capital of the Russian Empire against enemy fleets. It was part of the forts that included other citadels like "Peter I", "Fort Risbank aka Pavel I", "Fort Constantin" and "Kronshlot". It measured 60 meters by 90 meters with 4 levels high. It was supported by 5535 piles that reached a height of 12 meters. A layer of sand, concrete and granite slabs further strengthened the base for the military fortifications. It was officially commissioned on 27th July 1845 by Nikolay I (Nicholas I) and named in honor of his father Alexander I.  Its defenses consisted of 137 cannon and a garrison of over 1000 soldiers. During Crimean War the British Royal Navy fleet approached Kronstadt and Saint Petersburg, however a line of impressive forts and first naval mines stopped any attempts to attack Russian capital and Russian fleet. In 1869 the fortress ceased its use as a military fortification.

Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I

It was stripped of its fire power and in 1897 it was transferred to Institute of Experimental Medicine. The location was perfect. It was close to Russian capital of Saint Petersburg, yet it was easily quarantined in case of emergency. Many doctors lived and worked here with different deadly disease. This included, typhus, tetanus, scarlatina, cholera, Staph and Streptococcus infections. But it was particular famous for experiments with Yersenia bacteria that caused bubonic plague. This gave fort Alexander I its second name of Plague Fort (Chumnoy Fort- Чумной Форт). The work wasn't all smooth and perfect. In 1904 doctor V.I. Turchinov- Vizhnekevich died from plague. S. Poplavsky that doing the autopsy of the dead doctor also got sick, but survived. Another outbreak happened in 1907 when M.F. Schreiber fell victim to plague. Doctor L.V. Padlevsky got sick, but survived with the help of other doctors. The laboratory was closed in 1917 after outbreak of the Russian Revolution.


Today fort Alexander I undergoes a massive reconstruction. There are plans to turn the old citadel into a tourist destination, including museum, bar, restaurant and a club. It is accessible for tourists by boats.



Fort Alexander I Map


A. Pier

B. Main Entrance

C. Inner courtyard

D. Doors

F Crematorium

E. Elevator






Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I

Doctors at the bed side of their sick colleague. He survived.

Fort Alexander I  Fort Alexander I


Party at the historic Fort Alexander I

Fort Alexander I








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