The building of the Main Admiralty, more precisely the spire above it with the ship, has long become one of the symbols of Petersburg along with the Mednyy Horseman, the Zimniy Palace and the divorced bridge near the Dvortsovaya Square.

History of creation

And it all began in the autumn of 1704, when 50 ships built at the former shipyard near the rivers Svir and Syas set off, guided by Peter I, to sail along the Ladoga Lake, to St. Petersburg. In the way they were caught by a hurricane, the ships scattered a storm.

Six days Peter got to Shlisselburg and another three days waiting for the rest of the ships. It became clear that the fleet was to be built in close proximity to the Baltic Sea, next to the newly founded fortress of St. Petersburg. The place for the construction of shipyards on the Neva bank was chosen personally by the Emperor. He stopped his gaze on the island between the Neva and the Moika, which was quite predictably named the Admiralty.

"They laid the Admiralty House and were in Osteria and had fun, the length of 200 sazhens, the width of 100 sazhens", - wrote Peter Alekseevich in his diary on the occasion of the beginning of construction in 1704. Along the river here led the road, a branch of the old Novgorod tract. In addition, the Neva in this place (near the village of Gavguevo) was quite wide and, accordingly, convenient for launching vessels from the slipways.

The shipyard was built with the letter "P", the main facade had a length of 425 meters, the side walls - 213 meters. Since in the conditions of the Northern War it was necessary to protect the shipyard, in 1706 the Admiralty carried out a defensive function: it was a fortress enclosed by an earthen rampart with five earthen bastions and a deep moat. In addition, the Admiralty was at a distance of a cannon shot from the Petropavlovskoy Fortress in order to cover the object with artillery fire in the event of an enemy attack. For a better view around the building, the forest was cut down. So the Admiralty meadow appeared. On April 29, 1706, the first ship was launched from the Admiralty Shipyard.

So with the advent of another city-forming building over St. Petersburg, the second spire after the Petropavlovskaya Cathedral rose, as it was called then. And 14 years later a ship was installed on the spire, the prototype of which is considered the first Russian frigate "Eagle", built under Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and burned by a detachment of Stepan Razin.

The sailboat, which became one of the symbols of the Northern capital, was made by the Dutch master Harman van Bolos. After a century of watch, the ship was replaced with a new, identical one. The original was lost, but its two-meter copy, which served 70 years, took an honorable place in the Naval Museum. Among the exhibits was a collection of gold coins, placed during the construction in a box under the spire. In 1977, it was replaced by the Constitution of the SSR.

In the Petrine years, the Admiralty sank off 262 warships. Worked at the shipyard 10 thousand masters, mostly serfs, but also Englishmen, Dutch, Italians. For a long time the main master was the Russian emperor himself. And even moving away from construction work, Peter daily observed the work of his offspring.

The Stone Admiralty

In the 30 years of the eighteenth century, instead of a wooden barrack, the Admiralty of the Stone was built. Architect Ivan Korobov created a more monumental building. The ship-vane floated to a height of 72 meters - so long was the "Admiralty Needle", as the spire Pushkin later dubbed. Around the building then grazed cows and arranged fairs. And in the nineteenth century a new, grandiose view of Petersburg dictated significant changes in the architectural ensemble of the now former shipyard. Style determined the neighborhood with the Zimniy Palace. The Admiralty meadow becomes an area, and the building itself is almost completely rebuilt by the architect Andriyan Zakharov. Only the tower with the ship remained untouched.

The main idea of ​​the new Admiralty is the power of the Russian fleet. Ships here no longer build. But the ministers sit. Arch and colonnade, nymphs carrying globes, ancient heroes and sculptural allegories, astronomy and shipbuilding muse: total 56 statues, 11 bas-reliefs and 350 stucco decorations. The building fully corresponds to its high representative value. The Naval Ministry, the Main Naval Headquarters, the Main Hydrographic Administration, the Naval Museum. The Admiralty has repeatedly changed status residents. In 1917, Centroflot, supporting the Provisional Government, settled here, and after the October Revolution the Naval Revolutionary Committee. The 30-ies of the twentieth century added to the Admiralty scientific status. The first research and development laboratory of the Soviet Union - gas dynamic - developed here missile shells on smokeless gunpowder, prototypes of shells to the legendary Katyusha.

In the Great Patriotic Admiralty spire carefully guarded. For a target too noticeable from the air, a special sack made of burlap weighing 500 kilograms was sewn. The sportsmen climbed the spire. They removed camouflage only in 1945.

The Soviet period in the history of the building is connected with the Higher Naval Engineering School named after A.Ya. Dzerzhinsky, later an institute. Among its graduates are 14 Heroes of the Soviet Union, 260 admirals and generals, 400 doctors of science and professors. In the post-Soviet period, the Admiralty tried to open the Maritime Museum and the Oil Exchange. And in 2012 the main headquarters of the Navy moved into the building, the Andreevsky flag was raised above the building, approved by the founding father of the Admiralty and the entire Russian fleet, the main Russian reformer, Peter I.

Special offers

Visit SPb Tram Museum

Visit SPb Tram Museum and have a memorable ride on a vintage tram through the historical attractions.
(more…)

Enlarge your War and Peace knowledge by joining Guide For You on the War and Peace Trail. (more…)

If you are looking for something unique to do in Saint Petersburg, experience Russian Blacksmith mastership!

(more…)

Book your tour with us and get a free visit to the Faberge Museum!