Petrokrepost pyĕ˝trəkryĕ´pəstyə [key], formerly Schlüsselburgshlü´səlbo͝orkh [key], town and fortress, NW European Russia, E of St. Petersburg. The town, the terminus of a railroad and of the lateral canals on Lake Ladoga, has shipbuilding and repair yards. Opposite the town, on an island in Lake Ladoga, stands the fortress, which dominates the lake's access from the Neva River. Built in 1323 by the republic of Novgorod and at first called Oreshek, the fortress fell to Sweden in 1611 and was renamed Noteborg. Peter I captured it from the Swedes in 1702, during the Northern War, and named it Schlüsselburg [Ger.,=key fortress], envisioning it as the major link in Russia's line of defense to the Baltic Sea. The following year he founded St. Petersburg on the Baltic. The fortress soon lost its military significance and was used until the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution as a prison for high-ranking persons (including several members of the imperial family) and for political prisoners. In 1928 it was converted into a museum. Schlüsselburg fell (1941) to the Germans during World War II; its recapture (1943) by Russian forces opened the land route to besieged Leningrad (St. Petersburg). The name Petrokrepost [Rus.,=Peter's fortress] was adopted in 1944.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography