The history of Peter and Paul Fortress as the main political prison in Russian began in 1718, when the son of Peter the Great, Prince Alexey was imprisoned here. In the late eighteenth the Secret House for preliminary detention of state prisoners was built on the territory of Alexeevsky Ravelin. One of its most famous prisoners was writer Feodor Dostoevsky. The Secret House was demolished in the late nineteenth century.
In 1872 a new prison within the walls of the Trubetskoy Bastion was constructed. It was a two-storey building with an inner yard. Trubetskoy Bastion Prison was created as the secret jail for preliminary detention of the enemies of the state. Prisoners were placed in solitary confinement and were kept under constant surveillance of the guard, They were denied contact with each other and even with prison staff, which was a real psychological torture. There are altogether 69 similar cells in the prison and two punishment cells.
Prisoners, held in the Trubetskoy Bastion, were under the jurisdiction of the so called Third Department – the Imperial regime’s secret police, created in 1825, – and later by its successor, the Department of Police. More than 1,500 thousands of prisoners had been kept there from 1872 to 1917. Among them were members of “Narodnaya Volya” (Russian words for “People’s Will”) terrorist organization, then – members of the “Union for the Liberation of the Working Class” (these people were later called “the associates of Vladimir Lenin”), writer Maxim Gorky and Leon Trotsky. After the revolution members of the Tsarist Government, and then – ministers of Provisional Government were imprisoned there. The last prisoners to be confined in the Trubetskoy Bastion were Soviet sailors, soldiers and civilians, who participated in the Kronshtadt Rebellion against the Bolsheviks. In 1924 the prison was turned into a museum.
The story of the main political prison of the Imperial Russia is told by archival documents, photographs, multimedia programs, audio records with prisoners’ memoirs. Prison walls, cells and corridors are eloquent reminders of gruesome past of this place. On display are uniforms for the prisoners and models. Part of the corridor is a reconstruction of the acting prison.