Cronstadt, Or Kron-Stadt, the most important seaport and naval fortress of Russia, the seat of the admiralty, and the station of the Baltic fleet, situated in the S. E. part of a small, arid, and rocky island, called Kotlinoi Ostrov (Kettle island), at the E. extremity of the gulf of Finland, opposite the mouth of the Neva, in the government and 13 m. W. of the city of St. Petersburg; pop. in 1867, 45,155. The town was built by Peter the Great in 1710, the island having been conquered from the Swedes in 1703 by Menshikoff, while Charles XII. was engaged in his Polish campaign; it received its name in 1721, was fortified during the same reign, and subsequently under Elizabeth, Catharine II., Paul, Alexander I., and Nicholas, being destined from its foundation to become the great bulwark of the new Russian capital, and a chief naval stronghold of the Baltic. The southern channel, which separates the island from the mainland, is narrow and commanded by a small fortified islet, and allows single vessels only to pass; the opposite channel, the broader, but from its sand banks still less practicable entrance to the shallow eastern bay, called the bay of Cron-stadt, is commanded by the batteries of the rock of Risbank, and the citadel of Kronslot, situated on two small islands, each mounting more than 200 guns.
Numerous forts and batteries defend all other parts of the island, which forms an irregular triangle, having its base toward St. Petersburg. Near its N. W. point is a lighthouse. The town is regularly built, has fine and well paved streets and squares, three gates, and Greek, Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic churches. Other remarkable buildings are the exchange, custom house, arsenal, admiralty house, cannon foun-dery, barracks, and magazines; the marine hospital, with 3,000 beds; a house of Peter the Great, now the country residence of the military governor, whose garden still contains a few oaks planted by the hands of that czar; and a palace in the Italian style, erected by Menshikoff, and now used as a naval school.
The last of these buildings is situated between the canals of St. Peter and Catharine, which intersect the town. The former canal is constructed of granite, and is 2,160 ft. long by 90 ft. wide; it is in the form of a cross, and communicates by one of its arms with a vast dock, where 10 ships of the line can be repaired at once. The Catharine canal, 2 1/8 m. long, communicates with the merchant harbor, thus enabling the merchantmen to take their stores and provisions directly from the warehouses of the town. The' quays, constructed by the emperor Nicholas, are all of granite, and on a grand scale. Except the government buildings, about 200 in number, all the older houses of the town are low, and mostly of wood. The harbor of Cronstadt, S. of the town, consists of three sections: the military, outer harbor, capable of containing 35 ships of the line, besides smaller vessels; the middle harbor, for the fitting out and repairing of vessels, the hulls of new ones being brought over for equipment from St. Petersburg; and the innermost harbor, running parallel with the preceding, used only by merchantmen, and sufficient for 1,000 sail at a time.
All these are well secured, but in consequence of the freshness of the water from the proximity of the mouth of the Neva, vessels cannot be preserved in them longer than 20 years. From November to the end of April they are blocked by ice. Notwithstanding the shortness of the shipping season and the shallowness of the bay, which at the bar is only 9 ft. deep, two thirds of the foreign trade of Russia passes through this port. The entrances of vessels, which in 1714 were 16, now amount to about 3,500 a year. In summer the surrounding sea is enlivened by steamers regularly running between Cronstadt and St. Petersburg, Helsingfors, Stockholm, Stettin, Liibeck, Havre, etc. Cronstadt was inundated in 1824, and blockaded in 1854 by the British fleet under Napier.