Ruins of the Babrujsk Fortress
In 1807, Russians began to build the Babrujsk Fortress in Belarus to shield their central territories from the West. They drove to this place many thousand serf peasants from Southern Belarus and Ukraine. Those forced builders quickly erected the citadel and military quarters, so that Russians were able to use the Fortress already in 1812 against Napoleon. But construction of smaller fortifications continued by 1836. As a result, the Fortress covered about 250 acres and it was one of the largest military brick structures in Europe. Ironically, in the 19th century the Fortress was more a big prison than a real stronghold. Russian dissidents (some of them had been officers of this Fortress), Belarusian and Polish insurgents were prisoners of its “chambers”. From one point of view, the Fortress helped to the inhabitants of Babrujsk to earn money supplying soldiers with provisions and services. But, in reality, the townsfolk were put into cramped wooden vorstadts. Russians allowed buildings of break out of the Fortress only in 1860s. During the World War I, they finally understood inefficacy of their stronghold and left it. The Fortress was ruined and never restored.