In St. Petersburg, the restoration of perhaps the city’s most important facade on the Neva has begun. Cracked coastal granite in the Peter and Paul Fortress. Everything is predictable – “the city was born from topi blat” – humidity. Roman Zakurdaev learned the details of the restoration process.
Restorers manually clean the “granite necklace” of the Peter and Paul Fortress from centuries-old dirt and dust.
They remove the remains of cement mortar between the stone slabs of the facade – the consequences of aesthetic and unprofessional restoration of the Soviet era.
First, the restorers looked behind the granite shell of the fortress. Wooden window blocks have long been rotten. The masonry, dating from the time of Peter the Great, collapses at the slightest contact.
Three centuries ago, the capricious climate of St. Petersburg with temperature changes and high humidity destroyed the brick facade of the sovereign citadel, and Catherine II decided to put an end to it. Along the entire perimeter of the Peter and Paul fortress, she had the bastions, curtain walls and ravelins clad in granite.
“But it turned out, as always with us, that we didn’t have enough granite and silver. And only the facade facing the Neva remained forever made of granite,” said Marina Logunova, chief researcher at the National History Museum in St. Petersburg.
This is rapakivi, a type of Finnish granite. In Saint Petersburg, many architectural monuments face it. The “granite shirt” of the fortress is not only bursting at the seams, but in places it is seriously damaged. It will therefore be necessary to “redraw” it.
“Such granite exists, it is mined in Karelia. Granites of two different colors are used here: gray and pink,” explained Andrei Stroev, deputy general director of the National History Museum of St. Petersburg for construction and restoration.
A restoration of such a scale is taking place for the first time in the history of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Of course, the amount of work to be done is colossal. The total length of the so-called Neva facade of the fortress is almost a kilometer.
On the Naryshkin Bastion, from where midday shots are fired daily, it is clearly seen that over time the huge granite slabs have shifted and cracks have formed. The famous turrets, where tourists love to take photos, will also be restored. They will restore the copper coating and replace individual fragments that are clearly different from the original.
Experts only have a little over a year to reinforce all the structures and restore the fortress to its formal appearance.
Some of the “bad bricks,” as experts say, are removed and a new one put in their place. Starting next week, they will begin to dismantle part of the granite blocks, so that after the restoration, announcements such as “dangerous and possible collapse” in the very heart of St. Petersburg will no longer be relevant.