The history of the Ivangorod Fortress
The architectural ensemble of the Ivangorod Fortress
The museum exhibits

The history of the Ivangorod Fortress

Ivangorod Fortress in the 17th century Ivangorod Fortress in the 17th century Ivangorod Fortress in the 17th century Ivangorod Fortress in the 19th century

gorod Fortress facing the Narva Knights' Castle across the Narova River was erected in 1492 by appointment of Ivan III. It was intended to repulse agression of the Swedes and Livonian order. Very soon, in 1496, it was attacked and burnt down. Shortly after being rebuilt it became a centre of army operations in the war of 1500-1503. About 2 ths people were concentrated behind the walls of the fortress. Important battles took place here in March and September 1502.

Next turning-point in its history falls on Russian-Livonian War of the middle 16th century. After Narva had been captured by the Russians on May 11, 1558 Ivangorod , as a part of Narva, became the main Russian port on the Baltic coast.

Unwilling to resign losing Narva, the Swedes recaptured it on September 6, 1581, with the scanty Ivangorod Fortress garrison surrendered in 11 days.

Understanding the importance of the port, Boris Godunov ordered to regain both Narva and Ivangorod. Siege of Narva did not bring results but Ivangorod was returned to Russia on February 26, 1590.

Sweden fought against Russia once more in the Time of Troubles. In 1612 the Swedish army besieged Ivangorod and the Russian garrison finally capitulated on December 3, after half a year resistance. Thus, the Swedish period in the history of Ivangorod began to continue for almost hundred years. The stronghold was considered to be a bridgehead of Narva united with the Narva Castle.

It was only Peter I that returned Narva and Ivangorod to Russia in 1704 - in the course of Northern War. Later on, in the 18th-19th centuries, Ivangorod, constituting the one whole with Narva, was developing according to the plan approved by Catherine II in 1784. In the middle 19th century reconstruction was done in the fortress accompanied by archival research, detailed measuring and graphic and watercolor sketching of both fortresses.

The architectural ensemble of the Ivangorod Fortress
View of the Ivangorod FortressWell TowerView of the Ivangorod and Narva Fortresses Uspenskaya (Assumption) Church of the Ivangorod Fortress

The Ivangorod Fortress became the first in Russia citadel designed in the form of a regular rectangle (41.3 m on a side). The walls were raised to conduct offensive defensive. The main part of the Fortress, Bolshoy Boyarshy (Big Boyar) Town, was started in 1493 under supervision of Ivan Gundor and Mikhail Klyapin. By 1498 the Church of Sv. Nicola (St.Nicholas), "Dvor Namestnich" (Governor's Court), one priest's and four merchant's households were built in the fortress and its population numbered 121 people, mostly Novgorodian boyars exempted from taxes.

Many fortress constructions were erected in 1507-1509, with the Castle and Peredny (Front) Town among them. The walls and towers of Bolshoy Boyarshy Town were built on, a secret well was arranged in the Well Tower to secure water supply and peculiar traps were added to the fence near the Proviantskaya (Provisions') Tower allowing the fortress defenders, by lifting special screens, to be completely isolated from those enemies who managed to reach the walls.

In the 17th century - the Swedish period in the history of Ivangorod - the Powder-Magazine and Arsenal were built.

Ivangorod and Narva suffered a lot in World War II. Fierce battles for Narva started in August 1941, resulting in German occupation of the neighbourhood which has lasted till July 1944. Endless artillery attacks and air bombardments reduced Ivangorod and Narva to ashes. Six towers, greater part of the walls and inner buildings of the Ivangorod fortress were demolished.

The museum exhibits
Historical exhibit of the museumHistorical exhibit of the museumHistorical exhibit of the museum

The museum exhibits are really diverse.

The art collection includes paintings by Ivan Bilibin, Alexandra Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya and other members of the "World of Art" group.
Ivan Bilibin (1867-1942) was a widely recognized master of book illustration and stage decor. Colourful and stylish stage scenery and costumes by him for the operas "Boris Godunov" by Modest Mussorgsky, "Golden Cockerel" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and "Prince Igor" by Aleksandr Borodin and for the ballet "Firebird" by Igor Stravinsky that were staged in Russia and abroad played an important part in raising interest in national art and history. His illustrations to Russian fairy-tales and epics using traditional ornamental patterns are still unsurpassed.

The unique style of Alexandra Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya (1892-1967) being rooted in both ancient Russian icons and popular prints can be traced in the pictures, graphic art and china painting displayed in the museum.

Local history and tradition, as well as archeological finds and ethnographic artifacts are presented in the exhibit. Household objects, documents and photographs recreate life of local people and recount the events important for the whole country.

A special topic of the permanent exhibit - "Russia Fighting for the Outlet to the Baltic Sea"- is devoted to the events of Livonian and Northern Wars.

The "Life of Ivangorod in the 19th-early 20th centuries" section of the exhibit shows such rarities as letters and documents related with famous writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and outstanding lexicographer Vladimir Dal', portraits of publisher Ol'khin and his wife (the middle 19th century) by Foma Aleksandrov, a student of Alexei Venetsianov etc.

A very special exhibit, "Fortification of the Russia's North-West", is placed in a separate building that was once an office of merchant Orlov. Impressive models of fortresses located in Leningrad region (Ivangorod, Koporie, Staraya Ladoga, Oreshek, Korela, Yam and Vyborg), archeological findings and armament illustrate role of strongholds in the history of Leningrad region.