1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kronstadt

KRONSTADT or Cronstadt, a strongly fortified seaport town of Russia, the chief naval station of the Russian fleet in the northern seas, and the seat of the Russian admiralty. Pop. (1867), 45,115; (1897), 59,539. It is situated on the island of Kotlin, near the head of the Gulf of Finland, 20 m. W. of St Petersburg, of which it is the chief port, in 59° 59′ 30″ N. and 29° 46′ 30″ E. Kronstadt, always strong, has been thoroughly refortified on modern principles. The old “three-decker” forts, five in number, which formerly constituted the principal defences of the place, and defied the Anglo-French fleets during the Crimean War, are now of secondary importance. From the plans of Todleben a new fort, Constantine, and four batteries were constructed (1856–1871) to defend the principal approach, and seven batteries to cover the shallower northern channel. All these modern fortifications are low and thickly armoured earthworks, powerfully armed with heavy Krupp guns in turrets. The town itself is surrounded with an enceinte. The island of Kotlin, or Kettle (Finn., Retusari, or Rat Island) in general outline forms an elongated triangle, 71/2 m. in length by about 1 in breadth, with its base towards St Petersburg. The eastern or broad end is occupied by the town of Kronstadt, and shoals extend for a mile and a half from the western point of the island to the rock on which the Tolbaaken lighthouse is built. The island thus divides the seaward approach to St Petersburg into two channels; that on the northern side is obstructed by shoals which extend across it from Kotlin to Lisynos on the Finnish mainland, and is only passable by vessels drawing less than 15 ft. of water; the southern channel, the highway to the capital, is narrowed by a spit which projects from opposite Oranienbaum on the Russian mainland, and, lying close to Kronstadt, has been strongly guarded by batteries. The approach to the capital has been greatly facilitated by the construction in 1875–1885 of a canal, 23 ft. deep, through the shallows. The town of Kronstadt is built on level ground, and is thus exposed to inundations, from one of which it suffered in 1824. On the south side of the town there are three harbours—the large western or merchant harbour, the western flank of which is formed by a great mole joining the fortifications which traverse the breadth of the island on this side; the middle harbour, used chiefly for fitting out and repairing vessels; and the eastern or war harbour for vessels of the Russian navy. The Peter and Catherine canals, communicating with the merchant and middle harbours, traverse the town. Between them stood the old Italian palace of Prince Menshikov, the site of which is now occupied by the pilot school. Among other public buildings are the naval hospital, the British seaman’s hospital (established in 1867), the civic hospital, admiralty (founded 1785), arsenal, dockyards and foundries, school of marine engineering, the cathedral of St Andrew, and the English church. The port is ice-bound for 140 to 160 days in the year, from the beginning of December till April. A very large proportion of the inhabitants are sailors, and large numbers of artisans are employed in the dockyards. Kronstadt was founded in 1710 by Peter the Great, who took the island of Kotlin from the Swedes in 1703, when the first fortifications were constructed.  (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)