The first stone fortress in Ladoga was built in the 9th century by Prince Oleg, but was destroyed soon after in 997 by the Norwegian prince Erik. The town existed without a fortress for two centuries, until King Mstislav rebuilt it in 1114; this fortress withstood the attack of the Swedes in 1164. With the spreading of firearms in the 15th century the northern ‘shield of Russia’ was reconstructed again by the order of Ivan the Terrible. This last incarnation of Ladoga’s fortress was demolished by the Swedish army as they passed through the town in 1616-17. Only two of the five towers remain to this day, the Vorotnaya and Climentnaya tower, whereas the Raskatnaya, Strelochnaya and Taichnaya towers lie in ruins. The latter has been the subject of research for a long time. Legend has it that there is an underwater passage leading from the tower to the monastery on the other side of the river. People, namely monks, could use this passage in extraordinary situations as an escape route. Besides this, the tale asserts, a golden coffin containing Rurik’s corpse is hidden somewhere in the tunnel, and although documents do exist proving the tunnel’s existence, archaeologists have, as yet, been unable to find either the tunnel or the golden coffin. The fortress grounds contain the church of St George (see above), as well as the wooden church of Dmitrii Solunsky, which are open for visitors during the summer months only, from May-October. The fortress itself also plays host to a fascinating exhibition of Ladoga’s history (and even has displays in English). Included in this two-storey exhibition are models of the fortress and maps of Ladoga’s surrounding area, items recovered from the area during archaeological excavations, and beautiful beads made of glass and precious stones.