Plague Fort: The Most Mysterious Place in Kronstadt, Russia

Not far from Kronstadt, the silent walls of the fort “Emperor Alexander I” or “Plague” rise from the water of the Gulf of Finland. The history of the abandoned building, in which a mysterious laboratory was located a hundred years ago, still excites residents and guests of St. John's. Petersburg. The military history of the…

Not far from Kronstadt, the silent walls of the fort “Emperor Alexander I” or “Plague” rise from the water of the Gulf of Finland. The history of the abandoned building, in which a mysterious laboratory was located a hundred years ago, still excites residents and guests of St. John's. Petersburg.

The military history of the fort “Emperor Alexander I” turned out to be rather short. In 1838 the Russian Emperor Nicholas I decided to build a fortress. During the Crimean War (1853-1856) and after it the fort was modernized many times, and these measures ensured the complete inaccessibility of Kronstadt for the Anglo-French fleet. Neverheless, at the end of the 19th century, the equipment of “Alexander I” became obsolete, and it ceased to perform military functions. It was from this moment began the most mysterious page in the history of the fort.

In 1894, an epidemic of plague broke out in Hong Kong and Canton. About one hundred thousand people died. From China, the disease began to penetrate into other countries. By 1896, the plague reached the Caspian steppes of Russia. Isolated from the outside world, the fortification was ideal for deadly jobs, and here was placed Komochum , Russia's first anti-epidemic laboratory, where several doctors died in experiments with dangerous microbes. Residents of Kronstadt were afraid even of the winds blowing from the side of the fort.

Admission to the fort was strictly limited, communicating with the outside world was maintained with the help of a small steamer, which had a funny name “Microbe”. With Kronstadt, the fort was connected by a telephone line, and with Petersburg – by a telegraph.

The two-story outside fort had three floors inside. The building was symmetrically divided into two halves, each had its own staircase. One of the stones, the other cast-iron. The right part, consistent office space was contagious, the left part was non-contagious. At the fort there were laboratories, operating rooms, stables and rooms for other animals, on which scientists tried the actions of invented drugs: cows, goats, camels, monkeys, rabbits and even reindeers. There were also cremation ovens for recycling waste and corpses, a sterilizer, a laundry, a sauna, a kitchen, an electric station, doctors' rooms, a dining room, a museum, a library and other necessary apartments.

It is difficult to imagine the full significance of the work of all those who worked at the Plague Fort , who gave the opportunity to put a reliable barrier to the most terrible epidemics and theby save millions of human lives.

Today, Plague Fort has the sad fate of all the ancient Kronstadt fortifications. Like other ports, it typically deteriorates. Although the fort still has something to see: unique cast-iron staircases, mechanisms and walls of the fort are preserved. They say that in the basement you can find even an old oven. Here and there the “legacy of filmmakers” is left – everything that was used for the filming of documentary films.

In the summer tourists come here on a small steamer to look at the ruins of the fort-riddle. In winter, some daredevils get here on foot along the ice of the bay.