It’s a lonely place. Not just because of the lack of human voices and the howl of the wind. Also for its isolation. It is built on wooden stilts in the water and seems to float magically. The floating fortress on the Baltic Sea, Fort Alexander, continues to remind us of distant times.
The city of Saint Petersburg lies at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. And once it was protected by a number of forts. The most famous of them all has a fascinating story. It was built between 1838 and 1845 by order of Emperor Nikolay I. It’s Fort Alexander.
An original design was made for its construction. A series of thousands of 12 meter long beams were inserted into the sea floor. They would support the actual foundation, which was made from a series of layers of concrete, sand, and granite.
The brick and granite wall of the fortress was built on this foundation. The complex consisted of the main building with an inner courtyard in the middle. The elliptical building could accommodate up to 1,000 soldiers on three floors. And it also had more than a hundred cannons and fortifications with weapons. At the end of the construction, the fort was 90 by 60 meters. There are exactly 103 cannon openings with additional roof space for another 34.
The peaceful fort
Despite its strategic location and fortification, the base was never directly fought militarily. The closest he came to him was when he played an important role in the Crimean War. At the time, it protected the Russian naval base in Kronstadt from the attempts of the Royal Navy and the French fleet.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the fort lost its importance for defense against modern artillery. It was reused in 1897. It was intended to serve as a research base for deadly pests and diseases. Cholera, tetanus, typhus, among others, were examined.
Their isolation was ideal for Russian scientists to study these deadly viruses. The floating fortress in the Baltic Sea was called “the fort of the plague”. Using horses as test animals, the scientists worked to produce serums and vaccines for the various diseases.
After the communist takeover in 1917, the laboratory was closed. The fort was handed over to the Russian Navy. The fort was abandoned in the 1980s and soon became an urban exploration area. It once became a place for illegal raves.
It remains one of those mysterious places that seem to face time. You can already write it down as one of your next goals.