Revitilising Historic Rostov

Plan of Rostov fortifications and city layout

In the Netherlands little is known about the shared cultural history at Rostov.

Outside Russia itseems that no scientific publications focusing on the topic have been written so far. The engineer Jan Cornelius van Rodenburg is also widely unknown in the Netherlands, even amongst fortification experts. Some information on this person has however been found in Swedish publications describing later works he conducted under the Swedish Crown. Also in some books on the history of Russian military architecture published in English Van Rodenburg is briefly mentioned. In these texts the fact that he has worked in Rostov is sometimes acknowledged, but little further details are provided. It has been beyond the scope of this research to do research in archives. Doing this could however be very interesting. In 1891 a book has been published showing the results of an investigation into items with a Dutch connection in Russian archives.Here reference is made of a letter written by Jan Cornelius to Tsar Michael on the 16th of august 1632. 


He writes to the Tsar that the Dutch workers he had requested to come to Rostov did not arrive. It is noted that more details on the building process are provided in this letter, but these are not named in in the reference book. Further research, in the Netherlands as well as in Russia, could provide much more knowledge with respect to Johan Cornelius van Rodenburg and his works. Based on the information gathered so far, it can however already be concluded that indeed this engineer has been closely connected to the building process of the fortifications of Rostov.

This conclusion is not only drawn based on texts, but also the first analyses of the defence works in Rostov by the Dutch team strongly suggest the involvement of a Dutch engineer. As has been augmented during the presentations in Rostov it can be stated that many of the fortifications characteristics fit in to contemporary the Dutch tradition of military architecture.

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Author: Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency

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Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency

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