|Chapter VI |
and the Project of its reconstruction
While Kaliningrad region is the westernmost part of Russia, the city of Baltyisk (former Pillau) and the Baltic (or Vistula) spit comprising a portion of thereof are the westernmost point on the map of the most western region. Vistula spit (similar to her sister Curonian spit) is a major accumulative body that structure reflects post-glacier history of the Baltic Sea origin and development.
The origin is related to the glacier deposits and development of the Vistula river delta the mouth of thereof used to be located southernwise than the contemporary one. Accumulation of the solid developments about 5-6 thousand years ago resulted in extension of the spit that gradually reached the Baltic strait and separated the Vistula lagoon from the sea.
On the pre-war map (on the left) the port city Pillau is shown. In the upper part of the map the scheme of the Vistula spit is provided.
Total length of the Vistula spit is 65 km. Part of it is owned by Russia, another part being owned by Poland. Kaliningrad region owns 35 km of the spit. The mainland part of the spit where the city of Baltyisk is located is separated from its main body with 400 m wide channel. The navigable channel connects Kaliningrad ports via the stream with the Baltic Sea. In 2001 the 100 anniversary of the channel was celebrated.
The narrow channel as the only place for passing all sea vessels into the sea Hanseatic City of Koenigsberg naturally required reinforced security. That is why since ancient times formation and development of settlements on the shores of the stream had been related to relocation of the military garrison herewith.
1626-1628 war with Sweden when the belligerent King of Sweden Gustaf Adolf landed in Pillau (now Baltyisk) and really threatened Konigsberg not only demonstrated the lack of security of the old city walls but manifested the necessity of constructing the fortifications on adjacent to the stream territories in Pillau fortress. It were the Swedes who in 1629-1635 started constructing of fortifications including on the northern extremity of the spit. The same period accounts for erection of Pillau fortress on the northern shore of the stream, that is nowadays called “the Swedish fortress” (see the scheme on p. 163).
At present the official name of this formidable fortification is Fort Pillau. It is one of the few fortifications in Kaliningrad region which are used for units of the Baltic Fleet.
Fort Pillau built before the forts of Koenigsberg has a different configuration: as is clear from the above-mentioned layout, the fort has the form of a regular pentagon; this was due to the necessity for this fortification to resist in all directions. The fort has an interesting history worth telling separately. During the time, when East Prussia was a Russian province, the local Russian officials used to assign high priority to the sea gate of Koenigsberg and to contribute significantly in the development of Pillau (and the fort).
Not without reason one of the embankments of Baltiysk is still called a “Russian embankment”.
According to the dates which remained on the walls of the caserne of the fort, it could be possible to conclude that it was reconstructed several times, and some new buildings were added. For example, it is clear from the message on the photograph that caserne number 8 was built in 1800…
One can see the main entrance to the fort on the right side of the photo. It provides a rough idea of the powerful fortification encased by the massive brick walls...
Unlike the fort “Morskoy” located on the very shore of the Baltiyskaya/Vistula Spit and therefore destructed by sea waves and storms, the fort Pillau, which is off the shore of Strait of Pillau, is well preserved,
and it provides value to potential cultural users in
By the end of XIX century Europe came over the epoch of the smooth-bore artillery and embarked on the rifled canon one. The battle power had increased. Old fortresses including Pillau while facing new tactics and strategy turned out to be helpless. Use of rifled artillery and significant increase in force and distance of canon shooting required new types of fortification.
In relation to the external political circumstances the seaside fortress Pillau needed to have a brand-new fortification on the southern side of the strait. That was the fort now called “Morskoy” (Maritime). In reality in 1853-1856 there was a war between Russia and Britain and France. The Russian ports were blocked by the rival, and all freights from the Western Europe went eastwise via Pillau and Koenigsberg. Thus, in 1852 more than one thousand vessels anchored in the port of Koenigsberg (while heading through the Pillau strait), in 1860 there were more than two thousand vessels. In those years sailed fleet was squeezed out with steamboats, and the navigable channel had been constructed between the strait near Pillau and Koenigsberg.
Construction of Morskoy fortification had been carried out within the reign of first, the king, and then the Emperor Wilhelm I the Great. Wilhelm I became the king in 1861. As known he was not especially keen on the state affairs, while the actual ruler was the “Iron Chancellor” Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck (1815 – 1889). As you can see on the next page picture the foundation stone crowning the arch of one of the Morskoy fort casemate carries the date commemorated by the constructors, the year 1869. In 1871 when the erection of the fort was finalized the unification of smaller German states and princedoms into a single German empire and William I became the Emperor.
Morskoy fort having built at that time cannot be seen as something static, fulfilled and completed. It had been constructed within five years, with artillery being upgraded at the same time, and in the end of eighties, XIX century it was armed with high-explosive shells with piroxilline instead of black gunpowder being used as an explosive. Conducted trial fires indicated that the brick arches of forts and the ground protection thereon were not able to stand against the force of strike and explosion.
In 1885 the State Defence Committee was working in Koenigsberg, and they upon the suggestion of the engineering corps and fortresses inspector General von Brandenstein decide to reinforce the constructions of Koenigsberg forts including Morskoy fort. The working activities started at the spit in 1887 and lasted until 1891 utilizing the brand-new at that period material, concrete. Taking into consideration its initial deficit concreting upon the sand layer had been made only for gunpowder -magazines and barracks. Thus in covering of Morskoy fort the puff layer comprising bricks, two layers of concrete separated with sandy interlayer had been established. Similarly there were reinforced the fort walls, protection of windows, embrasures and doors against dangerous impact of gases resulting from explosions of high-explosive shells, there were installed the hermetic armoured folds and doors.
What tasks fort Morskoy was supposed to fulfil at that period? The main task was to cover the Pillau strait with artillery fire in a case of hostilities. Apart from that the fort was a sort of check-up point following down the strait and on-land caravans following down the Vistula spit. The seaside forts project was elaborated by the German engineering committee on errand of General of Infantry von Kameke. While elaborating the engineering thought of fortificators all over the world, Germany, Russia and France had been used. Practical implementation of the projects had been carried out by the engineering corps chief General von Aster and his successor General von Brese-Winiary. They both were representative of New Prussian school of fortifications.
Morskoy fort (nowadays ruinous) used to be front-stretch hexahedron – the central structure surrounded with a water moat. On well-preserved structures of the stone framing of the entry gates one can still see the metal blocs driving the chains used to raise and put down the bridge over the water moat (see the photo on the next page). Asymmetrically located central structure comprised barracks for soldiers and officers, medical office, kitchen and canteen, warehouses for shells, ammunition and fuel, sentry-box.
For daily sustenance of the garrison the system of heating with fireplaces and smoke heating channels inside the walls, system of water supply from the local well, natural ventilation and cesspool sewage and system of energy supply were foreseen. The inner yard served as a driveway and a shelter for guns. All casemates have the arched outline and are made of repeatedly burnt ceramic bricks. On the ground embankment (fire rampart) with protecting width of 2-3 m there were positions of artillery (rolls) with shelters for artillerists, depots of shells and watching points. For rolling the guns off the fire rampart into the inner yard the sloping apparels were foreseen. For local self-defence (within the limits of the fort moat) the floor (on the side of the sea), lateral and gorge caponiers were made in the corners of the central structure.
Unfortunately, the fort projectors at that remote time did not consider the destroying abrasive processes (geological sea work) and did not forecast that in a century a part of the fort constructions would be directly washed by the Baltic Sea waves that would result in significant destruction of bearing structures and framing of the fort. Sea waves are not ones to be trifled with. Even powerful fortification walls.
At that period the fort garrison made one infantry company, artillery team and one-two field teams. The fort was armed with revolver canons, guns with a calibre of 9, 12 and 15 cm and mortars.
Following its fate, Morskoy fort had never been actively involved in the hostilities. Nevertheless it was repeatedly brought to the state of readiness for action. It happened in 1914, when the German regiments failed under commandment of General Pritvitz. Alarm signal was played in the fort in 1920 when independent regiments of the Red Army under commandment of М.Tukhachevsky violated the borders of the Western Prussia approaching Warsaw. Before the beginning of XX century Morskoy fort was seen as a secret object, with battle duty and the field guard at the gate.
On the final stage of the WWII the fort represented a major strong point coupled with the field fortifications. Nevertheless after seizure of Pillau with 11th Guard's army it turned out to be surrounded by sub-units landed on Frishes Haff spit, and soon capitulated although hostilities southwise continued up to May 9, 1945.
Despite of the fact that historical and cultural monument of local regional value Morskoy fort (Baltyisk, village Kosa) is registered with Scientific and manufacturing centre on protecting and using monuments of history and culture and subject to governmental protection it is in reality in a state of abandonment. Its guard is not organised, all the people willing do not have any obstacles in access to the territory thereof. Some irresponsible visitors dismantle semi-ruined brick walls causing tangible damage with the monument. Apart from that, due to insufficient coastal protection the sea storms destroy the brick walls and other fort structures. There is a real danger of its complete destruction in a case of the failing to take urgent action to defend it. However this fort is of significant value as a monument of fortification architecture of mid XIX century.
The project of reconstruction Morskoy fort.
Against the order of non-profit partnership “Russian league of protecting animals” in 2002 our project company “ROSBALTPROJECT” made a draft project on restructuring Morskoy fort in Kosa village in Baltyisk district with a purpose of opening the MUSEUM OF THE BALTIC SEA FLORA AND FAUNA.
The master plan outline for the designed museum complex upon Option 2 has got the elements' explication as follows:
1 – lift-bridge/gates
2 – water moat
3 – internal yard
4 – closed aquarium
5 – the sea museum quay
6 – open marine aquarium
7 – watch-tower lighthouses
8 – walking promenade
9 – pier for boats and yachts
10 – lateral caponier
11 – gorge caponier
12 – floor caponiers
It is to be noted that the project of the museum (similarly to the project of adjacent Square of Concord to be referred to later thereon) is an integral part of a larger and interesting Regional target project of Ecotechnopolis. I'll take a risk to sound boring for our readers and quote this wonderful idea in full “Strategic idea of this project is to form in the centre of Europe demonstrative, long-term, self-sustainable and open for scientific, humanitarian and business communication territory, ECOTECHNOPOLIS”.
The project idea of establishing a maritime museum on the ruins of Morskoy fort to be an integral part of Ecotechnopolis couldn't help challenging the author team of the project designers. Crucial location of the museum at the sea entry gate to Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation, special aura of the old fortification facility having absorbed experience and talents of the past centuries constructors imposed special responsibility upon the project authors and future owners. This place seen from board a ship sailing to Kaliningrad or Baltyisk should be supported with consistent project solution, expressive and memorable in form and deep in functional substance, a real visiting card for our unique enclave region. The worldwide experience has been analysed in opening marine museums: in Klaipeda, on the end of another, Curonian spit, the biggest in the world aquarium in Spanish Barselona, maritime museum in American Baltimor etc.
The author, architect Dmitry Filippov has designed two interesting options for the project solution, a short description thereof see below.
In both options diligent restoration and reconstruction of all casemates and caponiers of Morskoy fort is foreseen to serve as museum premises.
On the graphical illustration on the left there are general view and cross-section of “coast-sea” layout in Option 1.
According to Option 1 the layout of the inner yard stipulated the arrangement of multi-storey aquarium – a winter garden shaped as a large some made of lucent material. Reconstructed floor caponiers stretching out into the sea end up in two towers shaped as lighthouses. Upper floors and upper ceilings of the towers are used as viewing sites, inside the towers there are staircases leading downstairs to so-called “inside out aquarium” represented as a glass pipe, a corridor arched under water connecting two towers together.
Visitors of the museum will be able to descend down to 2-3 meters below the sea level. Further, following the long glass pipe they will see inhabitants of the Baltic Sea in their natural environment. Example of such a glass corridor can be found in the largest European aquarium in Spanish Barcelona. Attracted with illuminated windows of this “inside out aquarium” as well as feeding thrown around by the museum attendants involved fishes, medullae and other sea residents would be able to communicate with the museum visitors through transparent but sturdy glass. For convenient view for all willing visitors it is foreseen to install the moving floor like in Oceanarium of Spanish Barcelona. On the other end of the pipe the visitors go upstairs in the second tower in the end of the second caponier.
For protecting the glass pipe from strikes of the waves and foreign solid objects on the external side thereof the arrangement of reinforced concrete pedestrian promenade, a breakwater is foreseen. Standing upon it the visitors are provided with an opportunity of viewing: on the one side, the open sea and vessels heading for ports of Kaliningrad and Baltyisk, on the other side, a spit coast with all construction complex of Museum of the Baltic sea flora and fauna as well as the Square of Concord complex to be referred to below. On the external side smaller passenger yachts and boats may berth to the promenade.
As to Option 2 general visual image of the main museum building reminds a sort of a marine giant.
According to Option 2 the new main object to be erected, a closed hall of aquarium and other exhibitions – is also located in the fort yard and represents the original structure of separate flat curved arches of different span being connected with vertical glass plates. On the whole, this series of arches being connected into the integral unity reminds a body of a weird marine animal that, as to the authors, corresponds to image of the marine museum of the Baltic Sea flora and fauna.
Arches' structures on the one side rely on inner wall of the fort overlooking the inner yard, and on the other side, on special foundations newly laid and united in a single wall of the basement premises under the bin centrally located aquarium. Viewing windows for spectators are designed in the reinforced concrete aquarium walls on the level of basement. The project foresees restoring and maintaining such attributes of a defensive fortification facility as a water moat and lifted fortress gate, a bridge to serve as a main entrance to the museum.
To the left of the main entrance the premises of lounge, cloak-room, toilets, offices of the museum personnel and informational stands styled to look like the ancient ones are designed. Out of the lounge the visitors may go either to the main hall-aquarium or upstairs to the open sites on the fort roofs. On those sites covered with colour concrete and ceramic tiles of specially matching outline there are outdoor exhibits of the museum, green gardening elements, smaller pieces of architecture and smaller aquariums.
Upon the roofs of two caponiers stretching out into the sea visitors can go to two towers on tops of thereof the viewing sites are established. Inner stairs of towers lead to the underwater corridor arranged inside the reinforced concrete structure fencing the area of the open aquarium. In this project option the arch-shaped structure stretched out into the sea has got a multi-purpose aim. Firstly, it is a coast-protecting structure that is why its external surface exposed to the sea has a curved outline widening towards its basis that enables decreasing the wave energy. Secondarily, that is a pedestrian promenade mounting 1-1.5 over the sea surface. Thirdly, the aim of construction is to fence the surface of the museum's open aquarium from the open sea. From the coastal side the reinforced concrete breastwall is designed, which together with arch-shaped breastwall represents a single border of the open aquarium. When in the stormy weather the sea waves overflow the pedestrian promenade and overfill the open aquarium with the sea water, water will be delivered back to the sea through specific apertures in the body of the vertical fencing construction of the promenade covered with grids to prevent fishes bred in the open aquarium from fleeing to the open sea.
And, finally, the forth aim of the construction is providing the visitors of the museum with a possibility to go down a special corridor inside the spatial construction and watch from the illuminator windows, on the one side, underwater world of the open Baltic sea, and on another side, artificially fished world of the museum's open aquarium. Area of the coast between the restored external fort walls and the open aquarium barrier represents an equipped quay with exhibits of the outdoor museum collection and public activities to be held.
It is planned to add the berth (one or more) for boats and yachts to the arch-shaped pedestrian promenade. The berth is supposed to be ended with wider site for viewing, enabling the visitors of the museum to watch the vessels heading for Kaliningrad ports at a maximal feasible distance.
Above – the interior of the main museum hall is depicted. The glass framing between the arched are not conditionally shown.
In preserved and restored fort casemates, in the large hall of the closed aquarium, a winter garden and other museum premises the topic exhibitions will be located to reflect geology, biodiversity, flora of both the Baltic sea and its coastal territories. Kaliningrad region nature riches should be specifically reflected in the museum's exhibitions.
It is planned that the museum carries out both excursion, informational and research activities in different scientific directions related to nature conservation of the Baltic Sea and unique nature riches of Kaliningrad region. Close cooperation of the future museum with scientists of the Atlantic division of the Oceanology Institute under the Russian Academy of sciences, AtlantNIRO (marine research institute), universities and academies should ensure the scientists with an opportunity of bringing their achievements to the awareness both of narrow scientific circles and general public. For example, the asset of great value is the richest collection of ground deposits, kerns having been saved within long years of work in the Atlantic for storing thereof the Oceanology institute years ago intended to build a special multi-storey building of a kernstorage in Kaliningrad.
In the old arched premises of the restores fort there is a room for small exotic cafes, souvenir shops and art salons of sea-scapes painters. It is a plan that due to its architecture, novelty of technical solutions and esthetical potential this museum similar to the World ocean museum this museum becomes one of visiting cards of Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. Not to mention that it is situated in the location first seen by any guest coming here by sea including, hopefully, regular ferryboat to be connecting our region with the mainland Russia and the rest of the world!