is one of the most important castle in the Russian history. Some laid
life to defend their country here, others were imprisoned here
regardless of their rank and social position. Emperors, members of the
imperial family, Decembrist and simple anarchist lived and died here.
One of the most important features of the castle is its untouched beauty
and mystique. Its well preserved condition is due to good construction
not modern reconstruction. Many people visit and often return to
experience the history and explore the remains. Some claim ghost live
here and can not quiet rest after their death. It is no surprise
especially if you trace 700 year old history of Shlisselburg.
History of Shlisselburg
original Shlisselburg Castle was build here in 1323 by Yury Danilovich after signing
first Orekhovsky peace treat with the Swedes after 30 years of
skirmishes and battles. Peace treaty got its name from an Orekhovsky
island where it was signed. This location gave also the name for the new
citadel Oreshek or a “nutlet” in Russian. In 1352 the walls were
rebuild but you can still see their remains of the old fortifications on the island. Much of
fortifications that you see today comes from the 15th century
overtook these lands during their reunification process of all of
1612 however the Swedes took the fort killing most of its defenders.
According to the legend Russian soldiers hid several icons within
damaged walls in hopes that the lands Swedes took will be returned
eventually. They called it Nöteborg ("Nut-fortress"). Oreshek/
Nöteborgwas not altered
much. Other than few towers and reconstruction it was kept in its
the Northern War Peter I the Great took much of the former lands
/ Nöteborg. In 1702 after successful attack where he served as a simple
captain of artillery, the castle was taken and renamed as Shlisselburg
or “key- city”. From
the early 18th century Shlisselburg protected the borders of the
Russian Empire. However increase in the Russian Empire made the castle
obsolete since it didn't stand on the border anymore. It was converted into prison and some of the famous names were
associated with it. Peter I sent his sister Mary Alekseevna and his
first wife Evdokiya Lopuchina here.
of the strangest stories that is associated with the citadel is that of
deposed emperor John VI Antonovich who was imprisoned here. John was
merely 1 than as a result of the coup he lost the throne and became the
secret prisoner earning him the name of “Russian Iron mask”. As
history claims several officers unhappy with the rule of Catherine the
Great decided to kidnap young emperor to replace the German princess.
During failed raid 24 year old John was murdered by his guards. The
story is still somewhat dubious and unclear. Many claim the raid was
actually organized by Catherine the Great. Whatever the truth might be
Catherine ordered a “Christian burial in secret”. Strange
description follows that include that the grave must be in a hidden
location on a shady side. Several historians claim they found the grave
where John is buried but no digs were undertaken.
prison later held Decembrists like Wilhelm Küchelbecker, brothers Bestuzhev, Ivan
Puschin and others. Alexander Ulyanov, brother of Vladimir Ulyanov
(widely known as Lenin) was executed here for his attempt to kill
emperor Alexander III. During World War II the castle returned to its
original purpose as a castle. Soviet soldiers managed to defend the
island and “The road of Life” across the Ladoga lake. Monument
honors the lives of those who basically saved Saint- Petersburg ( than
Leningrad) against German forces.