Fortress is an abandoned 14th-century
castle and prison complex on a small island in the Neva River.
The Oreshek Fortress, also called Shlisselburg, was first
built in 1323 as a fortified outpost of Veliky Novgorod, one of the earliest
cities in Russia.
In 1478, it was incorporated into to the state of Moscow. Now abandoned, this
island fortress situated at the head of the Neva River has played witness
to some of the most important events in Russian history.
Over time, the
initial 14th-century wooden structure was replaced by heavy stone walls. The
bastion towers were also widened and rebuilt. The fortress, guarding the Baltic
Sea, changed owners many times with the wars over the years, belonging first to
the Russians, then to the Swedes. In 1702, Tsar Peter the Great captured the
area once again and Russians regained access to Baltic. A year later he founded
the city of St. Petersburg as the new capital of Russia, and the front line of
defense was moved to the Finnish gulf.
fortress was deemed a perfect place for a political prison, and insubordinate
solders, or on occasion, more famous personalities, were sent to the penitentiary
cells in Oreshek. Most famously, the brother of Vladimir Lenin was imprisoned
here and later hanged for treason. The complex was expanded year after year and
by 1911 it could hold about a thousand prisoners.
The fortress was
abandoned after the Russian Revolution in 1917, and barely survived the Second
World War. The island was defended by Red Army soldiers during the siege of
Leningrad and the structure was badly damaged. Today only 6 of the original 10
towers remain in tact. The historic site and castle remains are now open to
visitors as a museum.
To get to the fortress take a train from St. Petersburg,
Finlandsky railway station to Petrokrepost. The lake and ferry dock are short
walk away from the railway station (the way is not marked with any signs). You
can take a ferry to the island from there. Plan your time; it's better to
arrive early than late. Within the complex is a memorial to its defenders
and a prison museum.
Clancy's comment: Mm ... I don't think I'd want to be an inmate back in 1323.
Guatemala City has had experience with sinkholes before: In
2007, three people and a dozen homes here suddenly disappeared into the earth.
But no one was prepared for anything like this.
On Sunday, May
30, 2010, an enormous hole, 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep, opened up in the
middle of Guatemala City, swallowing a three-story building, a home, and local
reports claimed that one man was killed when the building was swallowed.
sinkholes are caused by underground rivers or stores of water which erode
bedrock and cause the ground above to collapse. Guatemala City is largely built
on weak materials such as volcano pumice, however, and as such its sinkholes
open extraordinarily quickly, leaving little time for escape.
Most geologists are chalking the new sinkhole’s
opening up to Tropical Storm Agatha. At least one specialist thinks the
sinkhole may have been caused by broken underground pipes gushing water
underneath the building, and Guatemalan officials are rushing to find the pipe,
stop the leak, and fill in the hole, or else risk the hole widening. But
getting construction crews to fill in a hole this large could take years,
especially in the slums of Guatemala, where transportation is slow at best.
With the risk
of other sinkholes opening in the city “high,” according to National
Geographic, Mayor Álvaro Arzú may have his hands (if not his sinkholes) full