For 200 years the Shlisselburg Fortress “Oreshek”, situated on a small island in the river Neva’s outflow fr om Lake Ladoga, was used as a political prison. The first prison building – the Secret House (also known as The Old Prison) – was constructed in the citadel to the design of the architect Peter Paton. It was a one-storey building with ten cells for solitary confinement. The Secret House was the place for the confinement of the officers, involved in the Decembrists’ Revolt (an uprising against absolutism of the Russian monarchy on December 14, 1825 in St Petersburg). From 1884 the Old Prison became the place wh ere members of the terrorist organization Narodnaya Volya (Russian words for “People’s Will”) were kept last days before the execution. Narodnaya Volya is known for the assassination of Emperor Alexander II of Russia on March 1, 1881.
Today the prison interiors of the eighteenth – nineteenth centuries and ten cells of solitary confinement are restored. The display features copies of portraits of Decembrists by nineteenth century artists, photographs and prison uniform. Places of execution in the fortress inner ward are marked with plaques.