Ivangorod Fortress

Ivangorod Fortress (Russian: Ивангородская крепость, Estonian: Jaanilinna linnus, Votic: Jaanilidna) is a medieval castle in Ivangorod, Leningrad Oblast, Russia. It is located on the Narva River along the Russian border with Estonia, across from the Estonian city of Narva.

The Narva River, with the Ivangorod Fortress in Russia on the right, and the reconstructed Hermann Castle in Estonia on the left.
View of Ivangorod Fortress from the opposite riverbank in Narva, Estonia.
Ivangorod Fortress on the Narva River.

Ivangorod Fortress was established by Ivan III in 1492, intended to reaffirm Muscovy's right to access the Baltic Sea and to form a bulwark against the Teutonic Order, being built opposite the powerful Teutonic Hermann Castle. The fortress eventually grew into the town of Ivangorod, and the structures of the fort were gradually expanded and strengthened.[1] Ivangorod Fortress was controlled by Sweden after the end of the Livonian War in 1583, changing hands numerous times during conflicts and border shifts over the following centuries. Following World War I, the fortress was used as a POW repatriation camp from 1920-21. After World War II, the fortress returned to permanent Russian rule via the Soviet Union. Today, Ivangorod Fortress is a museum and a tourist attraction.


The original castle was constructed in one summer, in the year 1492. It was named after Muscovite Grand Prince Ivan III. Its purpose was to fend off the Livonian Knights. The castle is strictly quadrilateral, measuring 1,600 m2 (17,000 sq ft), with walls 14 metres tall.

Ivangorod was won back later in the year by Muscovite forces from the Livonians, under the command of Prince Ivan Gundar and Mikhail Klyapin. Three thousand troops arrived to retake the castle, rebuild it, and construct a new barracks and stronger bastions. For almost 10 years, the land around the castle was in constant warfare. The fortress and the land around changed hands repeatedly. The castle was reconstructed and fortified many times, becoming one of the strongest defensive structures in the 16th century. The castle was in development until the 17th century, becoming a large, sprawling fortress with several lines of defence.

The Treaty of Teusina (1595) returned the fortress to the Russians. In 1612, the Swedes conquered the fortress, which was bravely defended by a voivode, Fyodor Aminev (b 1560s, d 1628) and his sons. By the Treaty of Stolbova, Ingria was ceded to Gustav II Adolf, king of Sweden. In 1704, Peter the Great captured the castle from Swedish troops, bringing the fortress back into Russian control. Inside the fortress, there are two churches: one is dedicated to the Virgin's Assumption (1496) and the other to St Nicholas (built in the late 16th century but later reconstructed).

The churches of St Nicholas (1498) and the Virgin's Dormition (1558) inside the fortress walls.

After the early 18th century, the military role of the fortress dwindled due to technological advances. In 1728, a review was carried out of the fortresses in this area, which concluded that the installation had been neglected, and had a low fighting efficiency. An order was issued for restoration of the Ivangorod fortress, but after the inspection of 1738 the fortress was designated not adequate for defence purposes.

In 1840, some improvements were carried out in the fortress (roofs were renewed), and further improvements took place in 1863 and 1911-1914. During World War I, the fortress was captured by the Germans on 25 February 1918. From 1919 to 1940, the fortress belonged to Estonia. During 1920 - 1921, the fortress was used as transit camp for former POWs being repatriated to Germany and to Russia.[2] Despite changing hands several times in the first half of the 20th century, the fortress played no significant role in fighting.

During World War II, it was first controlled by the Soviet Union (1940–1941) and then by Nazi Germany (1941–1944), which established two POW camps within the fortress and left many of its buildings damaged after their retreat. After the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union in 1940, the Ivangorod fortress was part of the Russian Soviet Republic. The town and fortress remained with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of the independent Republic of Estonia in 1990. Currently, the fortress serves as a museum.

The museumEdit

The history and art museum of the Ivangorod fortress exhibits paintings of Ivan Bilibin, Alexandra Pototskaya and other artists. Also, local history and tradition are explained by some of the museum's exhibits, such as archeological finds encountered in the surrounding areas. There is a permanent exhibition devoted to the Northern War and the Livonian War. As well, there are models of fortresses in the surrounding region and armaments, and documents and letters related to famous people such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, exhibited in the fortress museum.


  1. ^ Nossov, Konstantin (2012). Russian Fortresses 1480-1682. Osprey Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1780969848.
  2. ^ Housden, Martyn (March 2007). "When the baltic sea was a 'bridge' for humanitarian action: the league of nations, the red cross and the repatriation of prisoners of war between russia and central Europe, 1920–22". Journal of Baltic Studies. 38 (1): 61–83. doi:10.1080/01629770701223569. ISSN 0162-9778. S2CID 143758720.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 59°22′28.24″N 28°12′26.48″E / 59.3745111°N 28.2073556°E / 59.3745111; 28.2073556