The history of Saint-Petersburg
The name of St. Petersburg was passed on to the northern capital from Petropavlovskaya fortress, the first construction of the city, which was built in the Neva during the Northern war. Its building began in 1703 by initiative of emperor Peter the Great from the Zayachiy island – just in this place the first stone was laid in the foundation of the city. “Petersburg will be empty!” This prophecy, so often used in different languages, is ascribed to the first wife of Peter I Eudoxia Lopuhina, admitted to the veil and cloistered. It is considered that she let this rash phrase drop, and it was at once picked up and turned into the formula of aversion of Peter’s reforms. The empress had the ground for perdition St. Petersburg: the new capital, which, by the way, had been had this “status” during two centuries, beginning with 1710; it was built with efforts of serfs, which were forcedly driven together for building the city. They say that St. Petersburg stands on the bones of the deceaseds. It is the truth: during the building several thousands workers-peasants died because of exhausting toil, cruel malicious insults of slave-drivers.
Yet in 1710 Peter ordered to resettle about 15 thousand various workmen from all areas of Russia in St. Petersburg. Distribution of lands in the city was free. Thus all that part of the city, which is called now “the historical center” – Sadovaya street, Kolomna, quays of the Neva – was very quickly built up. At the same time building up the Vasiljevsky island began. Building of that time was guided by European canons. Despite the fact that everything was erected by foreign masters according to the architecture of other countries, Petersburg emerged originality, and it moved ancient architectures. Nevertheless, they don’t diverge from clear planning and European standard designs. It was to attach the city the status “regular”, “often attended”. By the desire of Peter I the new city was to resemble Venice or Amsterdam. By order of the emperor architectures Z. B. Leblon and Domeniko Treziny had developed general plans of the new capital. Thus were built: the Summer palace of Peter I, building of “Twelve collegiums”, the Cabinet of curiosities and the Palace of Menshikov. Till the middle of the 18th century decoration of the city didn’t worry its citizens, who pursued the only object – to erect by rapid temps so many buildings as possible. At that time there were few big stone erections. And when empress Elizabeth Petrovna ascended the throne, building policy changed: during her ruling they began to worry about how to decorate the city by imposing buildings, deserving of the capital. Then began building the Winter Palace, where now the Hermitage is situated. Also the Anichkov palace, Smolny and Vladimirsky cathedrals were erected here. More buildings appeared during ruling of Ekaterina II. This period is considered the bloom for Russian architecture.
At the time of the tsarina’s descending the throne the population of the city made up 60,000 people, and in 30 years it numbered already 230,000 people. Just in the epoch of Ekaterina’s ruling began building up the city with stone buildings. Then the constructions, making up now the main architectural sights of the capital: Palace square, the Kamennoostrovsky and Elagin palaces were erected or their building was begun. Then was erected also the famous monument to Peter I – “Brazen rider”. At the same time the territory of the Alexandro-Nevskaya lavra was built up. However the empress cared first of all of the decoration of public places, good for walking. As a result Nevsky avenue appeared, and almost all quays of the Neva were covered with granite. During ruling of Peter I was built the most mystic erection of St. Petersburg – the Mihailovsky castle, the legends about which are composed even now.
The 19th century is considered the golden century of Russian Arts, including architecture. Then in St. Petersburg were built the Isaakievsky and Kazansky cathedrals, the Mariinsky palace, Mihailovsky palace, where now the Russian museum is situated, the temple of Spas-na-Krovi and many other monuments of the architecture. Also were appeared the buildings of higher State Establishments of Russia – Senate and Synod, the building of the Headquarter and Ministries in Palace square, the ensemble of which was finished by erection the granite Alexandrovskaya column.
Just in this epoch the city little by little began to acquire the pattern, kept in its appearance to our days – straight streets, strictness of the style and compactness of building up. At that time architectures and builders followed the rules which imperial subordinates had inculcated in them. Thus builders were demanded to undeviatingly keep the prescribed lines of streets: over the line of facades could stand out only sheds over porches and on the level of the second floor and higher – balconies and bay windows. However besides the luxurious private detached houses in St. Petersburg at that time rapidly shot up lucrative houses, the owners of which let their quarters. Aiming to derive a maximal income, every house-owner built up its plot so densely as it was possible, didn’t worry how it would affect sanitary state of the city. The high density of building up, abundance of dark and damp yards-wells became the typical peculiarity of many buildings of St. Petersburg. It concerned the area of Sennaya square and Kolomna, siding with it, where takes place the act of “Crime and Punishment” takes place. Industrial progress rushed into the city at the beginning of 20 century. At this time preference was given not to erection new buildings but to improvement of citizens’ life. Just at this time in St. Petersburg tens bridges were laid across numerous channels, branch lines, connecting the city with all places of Russia, were built. For convenience of people’s transportation trams appeared on 1907. The city life became more attractive and civilized. Just owing to this at the beginning of the 20s century crowds of people came here for living. In this period the population upsurge surpasses population increase in Paris, London and even New-York.
The new history of St. Petersburg began in 1914. This year became the reference point of the second name of the city – Petrograd, which originated as a result of the protest against German policy. Not long before this, overview of citizens about the city in the Neva, embodying Venice culture ruined. This tendency emerged at the beginning of the 20s century and became dominant in architectural tendencies. Then actors, artists, poets, musicians considered themselves descendants of Venetian creators of 18th century. In order to consolidate this feeling, architectures suggested building houses in St. Petersburg in the image and likeness of Venetian palaces. The most famous of them was George Lukomsky, the ancestor of this idea. The city with new name – Petrograd – in 1917 absorbed all hatred of working class against bourgeoisie.
The first revolution left the memory about itself in such monuments-symbols, as Smolny, cruiser “Aurora”, Marsovo field. And in 1924 the city was renamed into Leningrad right after V. I. Lenin’s death. The most tragic page in the history of Leningrad is the 900-day blockade during the Great Patriotic war of 1941-45. On September, 1941 army of Fascists encircled the city, annihilated all reserves of food. By the end of the war the population of Leningrad had decreased almost by half – about 600,000 people had died of starvation, tens thousand people had been evacuated. One of Hitler’s plans was to raze Leningrad to the ground, having arranged a ball in his best hotel – “Astoria”. However it didn’t happen. And survived inhabitants of Leningrad planted potato and parrot in Isaakovskaya square, right in front of “Astoria” in spring of 1942-43.
The original name was returned to the city in 1991, after the fall of the USSR. Modern Petersburg – is the city of new technologies. Building is carrying out now in two directions: reconstruction of old buildings and erection new ones with use post-modern tendencies in unity with old styles of architecture.
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