Leningrad region > Koporye
The stone walls and towers of the old Russian Koporye fortress can be seen
on a tall rock with steep sidehills.
The Koporye fortress is one of the most outstanding monuments of ancient Russian
defense architecture of the early 16th century on the territory of the Leningrad
egion. This ancient fortress attracts the attention of historians and architects,
numerous tourists, and fans of ancient Russia.
The silhouette of the fortress is austere yet impressive. The fortress occupies
an area of 70 by 200 meters on top of a rocky cape. It seems as if Mother Nature
herself had specially created the area of the fortress, while the builders only
changed somewhat the steep mountainsides with slab stone.
Of course the centuries that have elapsed since the fortress was built have
left their marks on it. The stone riveting has collapsed almost entirely, revealing
the yellowish rubble walls and towers, and in some place the Baltic winds have
torn at the limestone plates. Almost in the very center of the fortress there
stand the Cathedral of Transfiguration, built in the early 16th century. Later,
in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries the building was rebuilt numerous times.
In the northeastern corner of the fortress one can see the remnants of an old
stone building, which used to be the office of the commandant, built during
the times of Peter the Great.
The Koporye Fortress is not only a monument of ancient Russian architecture.
It is also a military memorial. Russian stone fortresses stood as powerful shields
of the Russian land in Ladoga, Koporye, Oreshek, Yam, Korela, and, later, Ivangorod,
which closed off the road to Russia from knights of the Livonian order and the
militant Swedish feudal kings.
The Koporye fortress was first mentioned in Russian chronicles in 1240. In the
winter of 1240 the crusaders invaded Novgorod and Pskov lands and took the city
of Pskov. At the Koporye graveyard the Livonians built a wooden castle. In 1241,
the Novgorod army, consisting of the Ladogans, Karelians and Izhorans, headed
by Alexander Nevsky, went for the Koporye Castle. In 1242 the crusaders were
defeated on the ice of the Chudskoe Lake. In 1268, the victory near Rakovor
prevented German troops from invading the Novgorod lands for almost two centuries.
Considering the strategic position of Koporye, the son of Alexander Nevsky,
Prince Dmitry, who was invited to rule over Novgorod, built a wooden fortress
in Koporye in 1279, and in 1280 replaced it with a stone church. In the early
16th century the Moscow government ordered a new stone fortress be built here,
and it remains until today. The walls of the fortress are five meters thick
in the lower section, and the height is some 15 meters. Inside each of the four
twenty-meter tall towers there was once five levels where the garrison was placed
during the fight. The first levels were considerably lower than ground level,
and covered with spherical vaults. The northwestern corner tower still has a
staircase leading to the underground shelter. The upper levels were separated
by flat wooden ceilings. The towers had tabernacle roofs. A broad passage was
made over the upper part of the walls, covered with a rampart with rectangular
loopholes. In 1581, the fortress was taken by the Swedes for 10 years. Koporye
also lived through an occupation in the 17th century as well. According to Stolbovsky
Treaty of 1617, the Swedes received the lands on the southern coast of the Finnish
Gulf, and made Koporye an administrative center. In late May 1703, Koporye was
returned to Russia. After the Russian border was moved considerably further
westward, the Koporye fortress lost its military significance. A four-arch bndge
was built back then at the entrance to the fortress instead of the drawn bridge.
In 1708 Peter the Great presented Koporye to Prince A. D. Menshikov. After Menshikov
was exiled in 1727, Koporye was returned to the state. Gradually the fortress
turned into a poor village of only local importance. By the end of the 19th
century there were only some 300 residents in Koporye.
The Koporye Fortress, built in the early 16th century, has survived to this
day and represents an excellent monument of ancient Russian architecture. The
church is monumental and grand, and fits remarkably into the environment. The
ancient walls radiate the power and decisiveness of the people who defended
their lands from enemy invasions.
Learn about the ancient and contemporary history of "Koporsky Fortress",
located at Leningrad Region 188525, Lomonosovskiy district, Koporie village,
Phone (813) 7650-794. The museum is open from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m., and 10
a.m. from В p.m. on Monday, Tuesday. Join a tour with Eclectica Tourism and
Culture Center to learn more about its construction and the secrets its ancient