Excursions across Saint-Petersburg: museums
There is no excursion which can go without visiting museums of this or that city. There is another fact which says about the necessity of such arrangements – a museum of every settlement keeps both its history and the history of great people, who had lived here, the history of the great discoveries, campaigns, battles and so on. Thus in order to experience the area where you have come for resting, one should visit firstly the nearest museum.
In St. Petersburg there are now 221 museums. They include both palaces, and fortresses, parks and many others. We won’t enumerate all of them. We will pay your attention on descriptions of main of them, which must visit every tourist, coming to the Northern capital for resting. Every museum is unique in their magnificence and abundance of the displays.
We advise you to visit first of all the Petropavlovskaya fortress, because from it the city began its building. Originally the fortress was called “St. Petersburg”. It received the present name in honor of saints Peter and Paul from the cathedral, having the same name.
The fortress is situated in place, where the Neva divides into two branches – the Bolshaya and Malaya Neva, on the small island. They began building it on May, 16, 1703. Formerly here there was a sough. Russian soldiers, shelled in the battles of the Northern war by army of Sweden king, in 1703 came out on the bank of the Neva near the Gulf of Finland. They needed to build here thick fortifications. The fortress was built soon at the cost of life and health of thousands soldiers and serfs. In its center was placed the wooden, cruciform church, which were consecrated in the name of Peter and Paul. Near it was built the Senate. In the square to the south of the church there was the building of the Guardhouse. On May of 1706 began works in substitution the earth walls by stone ones.
In the earth walls with a high of 12 m and thickness of 2.5 m appeared the gates: Petrovsky, Nevsky, Vasiljevsky, Nickolsky and Kronverksky. From the Narishkinsky bastion, built in the fortress, the inhabitants of St. Petersburg compare the local time as by tradition at noon in the city cannon-shot sounds. Above the fortress towers the golden broach of Petropavlovsky cathedral – one of the main architectural and historical sights of the fortress. Its building was begun in 1712 by project of Domeniko Treziny and was dragged out till the summer of 1733. In the cathedral Russian emperors from Peter I to Alexander III were buried. Places of the graves are remarkable for marble gravestones, set in the floor. In 1865 It was decided to change the gravestones.
The most remarkable of them are headstones, erected at the northern wall of the cathedral over the graves of Alexander II and his wife. Both sarcophaguses were carved of unbroken monoliths: the first – of Altaic jasper, the second – of Ural rhodonite. At the western entry into Petropavlovsky cathedral towers a graceful, decorated with columns and decorative sculpture, the pavilion, in which had been keeping for a long time one of the historical relics – the boat of Peter I, on which he would sail on Moscow river the Yauza, on Pereyaslavl lake. Near this pavilion there is a building of wonderful proportions, decorated with pediment, arches of the main entry and round towers on the corners of the main façade. This is the mint, built in 1724. Here were minted copper, silver and gold coins, what is made and at present, however now moneys are coined not of nonferrous metals. The summer garden, founded in 1704 by personal instructions of Peter I on the left bank of the Neva, considers to be a coeval of St. Petersburg. It is surrounded by water from all sides and made by type of Holland gardens. The real adornment of the garden is a marble sculpture, executed by Italian master of 17-18 centuries. The unique fence of the Summer garden is world-famed. The grille was made by project of J. Filten. The Hermitage is the undeniable world treasure. Situated in the buildings of the former emperor’s residence, it contains about 3 million works of art of all times and peoples of the world. It was founded in 1764 by Ekaterina II and with time it turned from the private emperor’s collection of pictures into the largest museum of Russia. The originality of the Hermitage consists of its buildings and halls: the Winter palace and also the Maliy, Old and New Hermitages and the Hermitage theater, erected specially for placing masterpieces of Art in it.
On the bank of the Neva in the center of the city towers the Winter palace, built in 1711 by architecture D. Trezini. This building was rebuilt more than once, as a result of which had become so called branch, appeared in 1720 near the Neva by project of I. Mattarnovy. The works of altering old mansions and building the third Winter Palace began in spring of 1732. In the palace were built about 70 main halls, among which – the Tronnaya, Red, Yellow, Shahmatnaya chambers, audience-cells, the gallery for solemn ceremonies and the theater. The interior was saturated with wooden fretworks, gilt, decorative fabrics and paintings. The Big hall with a carved throne, standing in the wonderfully decorated bay. The ceiling was decorated with picturesque plafond by Ludwig Karavaka and a Moscow icon-painter.
In the center a large chandelier hangs on chains. In the Middle of XVIII on the territory of liquidated tar warehouses by the basic idea sprang up the closed ensemble of Voznesensky (Smolny) monastery. This remarkable work of architecture of the developed Russian baroque is more famous by name Smolny monastery. Soon after the foundation from the north sided with it corps of Alexandrovsky Institute, built in style, transitional from baroque to classicism, and then from the south – the building of Smolny Institute, strongly consistent in forms of classicism. The main facades of all three constructions are faced to the squares which haven’t been designed for a long time. From water expanses facades of all three constructions are hidden by trees, old gardens, siding with the very bank. In the lower reach of the Neva, near its left bank there is the Tavrichesky palace – one of the first in Russia palaces of strong classicism. With the estate of the Tavrichesky palace is connected ensemble of former caserns of Preobrajensky regiment. Its central building, in which formerly there was a regimental hospital, is enclosed by an axis of Potemkinskaya street.
At the beginning of the 19 century the attention of town-planners was attracted by chaotically and not tightly built up spit of Vasiljevsku Island. In 1805 began creating its architectural ensemble, and by the beginning of the Patriotic war of 1812 were finished its central elements – the Exchange with rostral columns, Novobirzheviy Gostiny Dvor and granite quays. The building of the Exchange by architecture T. de Tomon, planned as an ancient Greek temple, surrounded by colonnades, was built in place of other one. The artistic demands to the ensemble of the Exchange were very strict and town planners approached the project with all responsibility. They worked out several variants of it, in particular, yet after working out the new project of the building of the Exchange its scale was thoroughly checked, and before the beginning of building the author of the project Toma de Tomon diminished all sizes of this erection by 1/10. In the panorama of University quay of Vasiljevsky island stands out the palace of governor-general of St. Petersburg, the closest associate of Peter the Great prince A. Menshikov. In the first quarter of 18 century this building was the most famous construction of the northern capital, surpassing tsar’s palace both in scale and luxury of the interior. Building of the palace, which had began by project of J. – M. Fontan in 1710-1712, continued by G. – I. Shedel till Menshikov’s disgrace in 1727.
To our days have been kept furniture of many halls, among which the rooms, entirely decorated with painted Dutch tile, are considered unique. Academy of Art is based on the banks of the Neva in 1757 by order of empress Elizabeth Petrovna. The building for this educational institution had been erecting since 1764 till 1789 by project of architectures A. Kokorinova and J. – B. Vallen-Delamon. This temple of Arts graduated all the most outstanding architectures, sculptures and painters of Russia. St. Petersburg Academy of Arts remains the Higher artistic educational institution of the country, where are kept and discovered traditions of modern art.
The symbol of the academy is a quay slope, made in 1832-1834 by project of K. Ton. It is decorated with ancient Egyptian sphinxes, the age of which is 3,500 years. Another symbol of Petersburg is the Tower of the Admiralty, founded in 1704 as a fortress and a dockyard. In 1730-s by project of I. Korobov was constructed the tower, crowned with a guilt broach. In 1806-1819 the building of the Admiralty had been reconstructed by project of A. Zaharov. Facades of the building were decorated in Empire style. As the main high-rise erection the architecture kept the old guilt broach, having set it above the three-floor tower, the high of which together with the broach makes up 72 m. In its foundation are situated the gates in the Triumphal arch form. Décor of the building includes a round sculpture and high relieves, in allegorically form glorifying the heroic history of Russian fleet. The temple of Isaakievsky cathedral and the square, siding with it, were made in 1818-1858 under the direction of architecture Ogust de Monferran. It was called in honor of saint Isaakiy Dalmatsky, which is prayed for on birthday of Peter I. This building dominates others, forming the historical center of Petersburg. Interiors of the temple, decoration of which includes mosaic and picturesque compositions and also various architectural details of lapis lazuli, malachite and other sorts of marble present really artistic significance. Height of the cathedral is 101.5 m. In 1859 on Isaakovsky square an equestrian monument to emperor Nicholas I was opened
The Mihailovsky castle, built of will of emperor Paul I as a castle-fortress, is considered the most romantic construction of St. Petersburg. Erected in 1797-1800 by project of V. Bozhenov, A. –F. Violje and V. Brenn, it looks absolutely unassailable. From the east it is protected by the Fontanka, from the north – the Moika, and from other sides – by artificial channels. Despite this the castle became a snare for the emperor, who was killed on the night of May, 12 of 1801. In front of the castle by order of Paul I was erected equestrian statue of Peter I, executed in 1747 by B. –K. Rastrelly. Petergof, Tsar village and Pavlovsk enjoy wide popularity of tourists. The big palace, being the center of the palace-park complex of Petergof seemed to Peter the place not only for rest but also for reception noble guests. The tsar imagined it as the monument of transformed Russia, the vivid example of bloom of art, main coastal residence. The official opening of the palace complex came about on May, 15, 1723. Then to surprised look of the invitees were shown three richest palaces (the Upper Chambers, Marli and Monplezir), and also a regular park, two cascades and 16 fountains, owing to which the city won international recognition. Tsar village consists of the Ekatherinensky palace and a park. There are also small pavilions of various function, numerous large and small bridges across ponds. Tsar village inseparably linked with the name of Russian pet A. S. Pushkin, who had studied in Tsarskoselsky Lyceum, situated here, and glorified this place in his verses. The palace-park ensemble of Pavlovsk is situated a little southward of Tsar village.
In 1777 Ekaterina II presented her son Paul chases on the bank of the Slavyanka river and two years later began building the main palace for the emperor. It is the only suburban complex, having stylistic value.