Located at the mouth of the Neva River on Orekhovoy Island, the historical fortress was founded in 1323 by Grand Prince Yuri of Moscow. Fallen under the yoke of Sweden in 1611, it was recaptured by Peter the Great in 1702 during the Great Northern War. This conflict opposing Russia to Sweden started in 1700 and lasted for twenty-one years.
Later the fortress was used as a political jail. The first to be send there was Tsarevna Mari Alekseyevna, Peter the Great's own sister. Later his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina, was also sent there. In 1826, several Decembrists were locked up in the fortress. In 1866, Alexander Ulyanov brother of Vladimir Lenin, involved in a murder attempt on Alexander III was executed in this building. In Soviet times many political prisoners were jailed there.
During the siege of Leningrad (September 1941 – January 1944) soldiers and marines of the Red Army defended the fortress heroically. Badly damaged during World War II, it wasn't renovated. Since 1985 it includes a monument erected in honor of the defenders of the place.
The fortress is now one of the eight branches of the History Museum of Saint Petersburg.