Detecting In Karelia (Story 15) - Visiting Korela Fortress

Korela Fortress

Korela Fortress, in the town of Priozersk, was founded by the Karelians who named the place Käkisalmi. The Finns called it Käkisalmen linna, the Swedish name was Keksholms Fästning. Originally, the fortress was built by the method of piling up large boulders, nowhere else in the world such a method was used. The fortress has historically been the center for the Karelians of the Karelian Isthmus.

Observation Tower and Arsenal

Karela Fortress

It was first mentioned in a Novgorodian chronicle of 1143 as Korela. Indeed, archeological excavations inside the fortress have revealed a layer belonging to the 12th century. Swedish chronicles first mentioned the settlement of Keksholm in 1294.

At the Entrance

Entrance Pole with Coat of Arms

The Swedes rebuilt the fortress in 1311. Soon after that, the Russians seized Korela, and it belonged to the Novgorod Republic, followed by Muscovy, until the 16th century.

After capturing Korela in 1580, the Swedes rebuilt the fortress following a Western European pattern of bastion fortifications. During the Time of Troubles, Korela was a prize promised by tsar Vasily IV of Russia to Jacob De La Gardie for helping him fight the Poles. As a result, the fortress remained with Sweden for 100 years, until Peter the Great recaptured it during the Great Northern War (1700-21).

Karela Fortress Bastion

Karela Fortress Ramparts and Bastions

Karela Fortress Ramparts

For 600 years, from time to time, the Korela fortress was either the northwestern outpost of Russia or the eastern outpost of Sweden on the Trade Route until the beginning of the Great Northern War. That war ended the Swedish Empire, leaving Russia dominant in the Baltic Sea and a major player in European politics. In the mid-18th century, the fortress was turned into a political prison of Imperial Russia.

Entrance to Prison Block

Prison Block Entrance

The fortress used to be situated on two islands before 1857 when, due to the natural disaster, a newly formed southern branch of Vuoksi entered the lake Ladoga fifty kilometers further southeast and became the main stream in terms of water discharge. The water level of Vuoksi branch at Priozersk went seven feet down, and Karela fortress ended up on the bank of the Vuoksi river. The fortress, which can be seen now, used to be on Citadel Castle Island.

Korela Fortress Lay-Out in 1710

korela Fortress Scheme in 1710

Drawing of Korela Fortress Now

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