The Nyenskans Fortress

The Neva Estuary

There is no evidence on the exact date when new settlements appeared on the banks of the Neva River, but the first records are dated 1500 and can be found in the cadastres known as Vodskaya Pyatina. According to the records, Ivan Vyrodkov, a military engineer of Ivan the Terrible, in collaboration with his colleague, P. Petrov, supervised the construction of the port and fortress at the mouth of the Neva River. The record dated 1599-1601 mentions that there was a trading center, vessel wharves, and an Orthodox Church in the estuary.

Nyenskans

This Russian settlement was later used as a basis for the Swedish town. The Swedes took even its name - Nyen, which means "the Neva River" in Swedish.

Nyenskans

The strategic and cultural mission of the fortresses built by the Swedes at the mouth of the Neva River suggests their intention to move inland toward conventional trade routes into the system of the Volga River. It is not known why Peter I didn't take this into consideration and didn't focus his efforts on improving internal traffic for other nations but preferred rather to build a town (namely, St. Petersburg) that marked the boundary of the Russian territory and helped control the access to the sea.

In 1611, the Swedish king Karl IX founded the Nyenskans fortress ("Nyen" stands for "Neva" and "skans" is translated as "bastion" from Swedish). Later on, Russians called the fortress in their own way that sounded more like German - Nyenschantz. In 1617, the Treaty of Stolbovo was signed and the Ingrian land was handed over to Sweden.

The Nyenskans fortress was the most recent development in military fortifications. Initially, it had a rectangular form, but later on it acquired the form of an irregular hexagon. The fortress contained five wooden bastions built in a star shape, two additional ravelins, and two crownworks built at a later point. On the opposite bank of the Neva River, there were three towers and three lunettes with three ravelins. They formed an outer fortification ring of the left-bank crownwork.

In the first half of the XVII century, a trade center called Nienstadt was established. In 1632, the center on the right bank of the Okhta River received the status of "town".

During the Russo-Swedish war (1656-1661), Russian commander P. Potemkin took Nyenskans by storm. However, the town and its whereabouts were left to Sweden after the war was over.

By about 1677, Nyen was surrounded by an outer fortification ring - lunettes and ditches - from the Neva bank to Okhta and included a new star-shaped citadel with five bastions and two ravelins.

By the end of the XVII century the fortress held more than 600 people and had about 80 cannons at its disposal.

Nyen

By the middle of the XVII century, Nyen's population was about 2,000 people, mainly Finnish, Swedish, Germans, and some Russians. Most people were engaged in trading, crafting, farming, and navigation.

Initially, two Lutheran churches (one for the Swedish community and one for the Finns) were built in the town. The Orthodox population could be found in the village of Spasskoye located at the site of the present-day Smolny. Curiously enough, Nyen's Swedish and Finnish parishes were also divided geographically - they were located on opposite sides of the Chernaya River (Black River) that joined the Okhta River within the town's territory.

By the beginning of the XVIII century, many Swedish and Finnish estates were built outside the town's fortifications. Some of these estates were located distantly from the town - on the islands of the Neva delta and along the banks of numerous rivers and arms of the Neva River.

During the Northern War, when the Russians seized the fortress of Noteburg in 1702, the Swedish command evacuated the Nyan's population and burnt the town. The main reason for this action was the concern that the fortifications could be used to cover the Russian troops when they stormed Nyenskans.

In May 1703, the Nyenskans fortress was besieged, seized, and renamed by Peter I to Shlotburg (nied. Slotburg). By 1725 the town was abolished; however, the fortress was kept. In the years of 1740 - 1760, the former Swedish fortress was the home for the Kanetsky Garden - a fruit tree nursery and plant house. In the 1760's, the Kanetsky Garden was handed over to the Smolny Institute, and in 1790, the Marine department built a shipyard there. In 1828, the Okhta settlements and their territory became part of St. Petersburg. In 1849, the central fortification of Nyenskans still existed and there is still no evidence on the exact date when the structure was destroyed.

On June 15, 2000, a granite memorial sign "The Nyenskans Fortress" was erected at the site of one of the bastions.

During the archeological excavations, unique objects and artifacts were found that represent historical and cultural heritage of the time. This was one of the main reasons to open the museum of Landskrona and Nyenskans in 2003. Today, the Nyenskans fortress and the Nyan town center belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.