Museum sites

Historical-architectural complex “Arkhangelsk Merchant Yards”

One of the oldest museums of the North-West of Russia — Arkhangelsk Regional Lore Museum — is located in the architectural monument of the 17th–18th centuries — the Arkhangelsk Merchant Yards.

The Merchant Yards were constructed in 1668–1683 by the order of the tzar Alexey Mikhailovich as a stone fortress. It was one of the most magnificent buildings of the time — the area it occupied comprised nine hectares.

Arkhangelsk Merchant Yards were called “the stone town” up to the late 18th century. Being a complex building, it fulfilled the administrative, trade and defensive purposes. The Merchant Yards were a fortification construction that protected the estuary of the Northern Dvina as the beginning of the passage deeper to the country. The fortress as such was located between the German and Russian Merchant Yards.

The town walls with portholes were up to 10.6 metres high. Four circular triple deck towers were constructed on the corners of the “stone town” — all of them were 27.5 metres high. A square four-storeyed tower with portholes as well was erected on the West side of the complex (from the river side), its height was 40 metres and the walls were 4.25 metres thick. Since the early 18th century, the tower got the name Orlovskaya (‘Eagle’) as the Imperial eagle — the emblem of the Russian State — was installed on its top. The main passage to the territory of the town was situated under the tower.

Portholes were installed in the walls of the German and Russian Merchant Yards barns instead of windows — they could be used for defensive purposes as well. Barns with potash, tar and artillery ammunition were located on the territory of the fortress.

Therefore, The Merchants Yards constituted a mighty defence construction even though it was of an out-dated construction.

By the order of Peter I, the corner towers were added to the construction of the Merchant Yards and the artillery ammunition supplies were replenished for defensive purposes during the Great Northern War.

The complex was significantly reconstructed in Classical style in the late 18th century after the “stone town” was excluded from the fortresses list of Russia in 1763. So, the Merchant Yards faded in importance as the fortification construction and such government agencies started functioning here as the customs, province court, police office, archives, salt and wines warehouses and others.

During the Great Patriotic War, the communication centre of the White Sea warship flotilla was situated in the building of the Merchant Yards. This military unit provided communication in the Western part of the Arctic region up to the Kara Sea. The cellars under the salt warehouses were used by the citizens of Arkhangelsk as the air-raid shelter.

The restoration works at the federally significant monument “Arkhangelsk Merchant Yards” started in 1992, while the main part of the works was fulfilled in 2009–2010.

Nowadays, one of the oldest museums in Russia — Arkhangelsk Regional Lore Museum — is located in the complex of the Merchant Yards. The monument has undergone considerable changes after it was reconstructed and partly destroyed numerous times during the 18th–20th centuries, but even now, its uniqueness is difficult to overestimate. Today, the citizens and guests of Arkhangelsk can visit the restored merchant chambers of the Russian Merchant Yard of the 17th century and the grand halls of the 18th century of the big museum-cultural centre. The museum offers its visitors highlight and thematic guided tours and invites everybody to take part in its numerous exhibition and cultural projects.

Object of cultural heritage “Novodvinskaya Fortress”


According to the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic of 30 August 1960, the monument is under the state protection, it is federal property.

“Arkhangelsk Novodvinskaya Fortress” is the first seaside stone bastion fortress in Russia, constructed in the early 18th century by the order and under the command of Peter I in order to protect the only seaport of the Russian state at that time and the first shipbuilding yard located in Arkhangelsk. The fortress is situated on Linsky Priluk island in the shipping arm of the Northern Dvina river in 19–20 kilometres from the centre of Arkhangelsk.

The Novodvinskaya Fortress consisted of the fortification wall, inner and outer constructions. The fortification wall included the Morskoy, Flazhny, Rogatochny and Mogilny bastions and a ravelin located in the northern part of the wall. Communication with the external world was carried out through the Summer, Dvina and Northern gates. Inside the fortress territory there were the wooden Saint Apostles Peter and Paul’s Church, the Governor’s and Officers’ houses, wooden barracks, stone artillery storeroom, gunpowder magazines in the Morskoy, Mogilny, Rogatochny and Flazhny bastions.

Today, the historical and architectural monument “Novodvinskaya Fortress” is the architectural complex that consists of the following objects under the state protection:

  1. The main ranpart with four bastions (Flazhny, Morskoy, Mogilny and Rogatochny), two gates (Summer and Dvina) and the remnants of the faussebraye;
  2. Governor’s house above the Dvina gate;
  3. Officers’ house above the Summer gate;
  4. Gunpowder magazine in the Flazhny (north-western) bastion;
  5. Northern ravelin;
  6. Stone wharf wall

How to get here:

Today the excess to the fortress is open for everybody, but even though the monument is located on the territory of Arkhangelsk, it is not so easy to get there.

At first, you need to go from the centre of Arkhangelsk to the settlement of the timber mill №22 — you can do it either by public transport or by car. Then you turn left to the river crossing. If you are driving, you have to wait for the ferry that goes every two hours (starting from 8 a.m. and up to 8 p.m.).

Another option to cross the river for those who are driving is a ferry that starts from the pier of the timber mill №14, but this way the road on the islands is going to be much longer and bumpier.

If you are going to the fortress by public transport, you can use the motorboat that starts every hour. On the other bank of the river you will have to wait for a bus that follows the route “Timber mill №23 — Konveyer settlement”, it goes five times a day. The route of the bus just as the road for car drivers goes through the settlements of the timber mills №23 and 24. Please note, that it is the dirt road.

After you cross the river Krivyak by an old wooden bridge, you go straight up to Konveyer settlement. From the bus stop, you turn right — the road will lead you straight to the fortress walls.

The entrance to the territory of the fortress is free of charge.

Before you go to the territory of the monument, please, make sure you have read the visitor regulations there. If you are travelling with children, please, keep an eye on them for safety reasons.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the restoration works, as the excess to some places may be restricted or obstructed.

You can book a personal or group guided tour by phone +7 (8182) 20 92 15