In the vicinity of Saint Petersburg there is an ancient Russian fortress Oreshek. The fortification was named after Orekhov island where it is situated.
The fortress was founded in the 16th century by Prince Yuriy Danilovich, a grandson of Alexander Nevsky. For a long time Oreshek served as the major defensive construction on the border with Sweden. Favourable location of the fortress, giving access to the Gulf of Finland along the Neva caused many year battles between Russian and Swedish troops for its conquest.
In 1611 Sweden attempt to force a fortress turned out to be successful and during 90 years it remained in the ownership of Sweden. The Swedes has neither destroyed it not reconstructed; the only change concerned its name which then sounded like Noteburg.
In the course of Great Northern War one of the primary goals of the emperor was to regain the fortress. Especially for this purpose 13 ships were built, which started their attack in 1702. After ten days of fierce battles Russian Army managed to win back the fortress, which was renamed by Peter the Great's decree to Shlisselburg. Shlisselburg is translated from German as "key town". This unusual name is determined by the fact, that fortress conquest was a key event for Russian victory in the Great Northern War.
Later with the erection of Kronstadt forts the fortress has lost its military value. Oreshek casemates started to serve as a prison for political prisoners and state betrayers. The chapter of Shlisselburg history is connected with dark and gloomy events as the prisoners were kept in extremely severe conditions. Among the prisoners there were many Decembrist members of Narodnaya Volya movement, even some imperial dynasty members who claimed the throne.
Going to a hydrofoil trip to the fortress Oreshek you will not only learn the history of this legendary place and enjoy the scenery of Orekhov island, but also empathize with those who stepped on the land of Shlisselburg several centuries ago.