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 Post subject: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 31 Mar 2010 08:41 
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St. Petersburg - General information

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St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia after its capital - Moscow, with the population of about 6 million people. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Visitors who left for Paris right after having visited St. Petersburg, and spent several days there on the banks of the Seine, witnessed that they found the city on the Neva river more amazing, more beautiful, and more impressive than Paris. The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great (ruled 1682 -1725) in 1703 and from 1712 became the new capital of Russia. It had this status up until 1918 when the capital was brought back to Moscow.


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This city witnessed many important historical events. In fact, the whole history of the Russian Empire lies there on the banks of the Neva river. Russia became a European Empire at the beginning of the 18th century; in fact, Peter the Great was the first Russian Emperor. It was the era of vast changes in the country, and Peter was the greatest reformer ever. A more detailed account of what he did for Russia will be given during this post.

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Peter and Paul's Fortress


Almost all the emperors starting with Peter himself are buried in St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral that is situated on the territory of Peter and Paul's Fortress which is the birthplace of the city. The gilded spire of the cathedral with a three meter high angel on top is one of the symbols of the city.

St. Petersburg thus started as a fortress to protect the lands along the banks of the Neva river and the Gulf of Finland from Sweden. In fact these lands had always been an apple of discord between Russia and its "northern neighbour" Sweden.

Separate fights were held throughout centuries up until 1700 when a war was started that was one of the most important happenings in the history of St. Petersburg and Russia and that came down into history as the Northern War. It was started by the Swedish king Karl XII. For Peter I who was the ruler of the country then the main purpose of the war was to regain the lands along the Neva and the Gulf of Finland that were lost to Sweden in 1617 as a result of a peace treaty.

The beginning of the 17th century was a hard time for Russia when Lithuania and Poland were trying to capture Moscow. Russia was weak and without a tsar then and it asked Sweden for help. As a result of this "help" Russia lost the access to the Baltic Sea.


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The country could not develop without it that is why in 1700 Peter entered this war that lasted for 21 years and was ended in 1721 with a total victory of Russia.

To protect the newly regained lands Peter and Paul's Fortress was founded on a little Hare's Island.

The fortress developed into a city under the rule of the Romanovs - the ruling dynasty in Russia from Peter's grandfather Mikhail until the last Russian emperor Nicholas II.

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 31 Mar 2010 08:56 
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The Winter Palace

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The Winter Palace is one of the most splendid buildings in St. Petersburg. Almost all the Romanovs starting from Catherine the Great resided there. The palace had hundreds of rooms; many of them were State Halls the interiors of which are preserved till the present days and open to visitors.

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When you are inside of these miraculous halls you'll have a strong sensation of having got back to the times of the emperors. When you take the magnificent State Gala Staircase covered with a red velvet carpet and decorated with sculptures, huge mirrors, ceiling paintings, marble, gilded wood carvings - all to the baroque style - you are going to feel yourself one of the astonished guests invited to the pompous balls and receptions held in the Winter Palace. They had never before imagined such richness and splendor. Candles were lit in the vast Great Throne Room where the Emperor and Empress as well as Grand Dukes received their guests. Nobody was forgotten. The provincial nobility was received in the Emblem Hall covered all over with gilded bronze and sparkling in the candlelight.

Now the Winter Palace does not only display beautiful interiors but also houses our greatest pride - the Hermitage Museum. It ranks among the best museums of West European art in the world such as the Louver in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery and the British Museum in London and Prado in Madrid.

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The Hermitage possesses the masterpieces of such great painters as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hals, Velasquez, Goya, El Greco, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kandinsky, and many others.

The Hermitage has more than 3 million exhibits, among them not only paintings but also antique sculptures, medieval applied art, cameos, ancient and 18-19th century gold and jewels, coins, archeological finds, collections of the Eastern countries - Egypt, Iran, China and Tibet, Japan. There is also a Russian department though the main collection of the Russian Art is to be found in the Russian Museum.

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In the Hermitage you'll find imperial carriages covered with gilded wood carvings, upholstered with velvet and decorated with French paintings; original Russian sledge, Peter I's personal set of medical instruments, and a whole gallery of the Romanovs' gala portraits.

The State Hermitage


The Winter Palace is one of the most splendid buildings in St. Petersburg. Almost all the Romanovs starting from Catherine the Great resided there. The palace had hundreds of rooms; many of them were State Halls the interiors of which are preserved till the present days and open to visitors.

When you are inside of these miraculous halls you'll have a strong sensation of having got back to the times of the emperors. When you take the magnificent State Gala Staircase covered with a red velvet carpet and decorated with sculptures, huge mirrors, ceiling paintings, marble, gilded wood carvings - all to the baroque style - you are going to feel yourself one of the astonished guests invited to the pompous balls and receptions held in the Winter Palace. They had never before imagined such richness and splendor. Candles were lit in the vast Great Throne Room where the Emperor and Empress as well as Grand Dukes received their guests. Nobody was forgotten. The provincial nobility was received in the Emblem Hall covered all over with gilded bronze and sparkling in the candlelight.

Now the Winter Palace does not only display beautiful interiors but also houses our greatest pride - the Hermitage Museum. It ranks among the best museums of West European art in the world such as the Louver in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery and the British Museum in London and Prado in Madrid.

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The Hermitage possesses the masterpieces of such great painters as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hals, Velasquez, Goya, El Greco, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kandinsky, and many others.

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The Hermitage has more than 3 million exhibits, among them not only paintings but also antique sculptures, medieval applied art, cameos, ancient and 18-19th century gold and jewels, coins, archeological finds, collections of the Eastern countries - Egypt, Iran, China and Tibet, Japan. There is also a Russian department though the main collection of the Russian Art is to be found in the Russian Museum.

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In the Hermitage you'll find imperial carriages covered with gilded wood carvings, upholstered with velvet and decorated with French paintings; original Russian sledge, Peter I's personal set of medical instruments, and a whole gallery of the Romanovs' gala portraits.

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 31 Mar 2010 09:30 
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Winter canal

The Hermitage comprises of several buildings, and the Winter Palace is just one of them. All the five buildings are situated on the bank of the Neva river. Behind them there is one of the little rivers - the Moyka - flowing, and the Neva is connected with the Moyka by a short canal that flows right between the buildings of the Hermitage.

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It's called The Winter Canal, and this is one of the most poetic corners of the "old St.Petersburg". It was described in Alexander Pushkin's famous "Queen of Spades", and until now is the place for romantic dates of people who are in love. This place is especially lovely when seen from the water - when you sail either along the Moyka or along the Neva river in a boat and cast a look on the beautiful arch that frames the Winter Canal…

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General Headquarters


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Another great style that St. Petersburg is famous for apart from baroque is classicism which began to develop under the rule of Catherine the Great (1762-1796) and reached its peak in the 19th century in creations of one of the most renowned St.Petersburg architects - Carlo Rossi who built the Senate and Synod buildings, the General Headquarters, the Alexandra Theatre, and many other beautiful classical buildings that give a special touch to our city.

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Kazan Cathedral


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It was Catherine II's grandson Alexander I who defeated Napoleon in 1814. This is another important fact in the Russian history. Forever commemorated is it in the magnificent Kazan Cathedral put up in 1811 by the architect Andrey Voronikhin on the Nevsky Prospect - the main street of the city.

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The Smolny Convent


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It was at the time of Elizabeth, Peter's daughter (ruled 1741-1761), that the city obtained its magnificence in architecture. One style was ruling in the middle of the 18th century - baroque, and there was an architect who could not be surpassed in creating baroque masterpieces - Francesco Rastrelli (1700-1771). This Italian architect, who was the favorite court architect of Elizabeth I, built a lot of richly decorated baroque buildings in St. Petersburg and its suburbs, which are now a distinguishing feature of the city.

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Among them are the Winter Palace - former main imperial residence, the Smolny Convent (former residence of the first women's school in Russia), and summer imperial palaces in Tsarskoe Selo (now Pushkin) and Peterhof (now Petrodvorets).

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 08:22 
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The Decembrist Uprising

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Another important year for the 19th-century Russia is 1825. It was the year when Alexander I died having left no direct heir to the throne. According to the law, his brother Constantine should have become an emperor, but he abdicated in favor of his younger brother Nicholas who accepted the throne. But it was the time when a revolutionary movement sprang up in the upper layers of the society. High rank officers and liberal aristocrats inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution of 1789 and being against serfdom in Russia, wanted to establish a republic and abolish serfdom. So they refused to swear allegiance to the new emperor and arranged an uprising in front of the Senate building. It took place in December of 1825 and the people who took part in it were called the Decembrists. Among these people there were outstanding personalities who were the friends of Alexander Pushkin, greatest Russian poet ever.

The Decembrist Uprising was severely suppressed but it greatly influenced the minds of the Russian people and gave a push to further development of revolutionary movements in Russia. This uprising took place in the Senate Square, and in 1925 to the centenary of the event it was renamed to the Decembrist Square.

It is the place where the Bronze Horseman is situated which is the most famous and the most poetic monument of our city (it is a monument to Peter the Great and it was created to the order of Catherine the Great and unveiled in 1782). Another notable fact is that it is the first monument ever put up in St. Petersburg!

The Bronze Horseman

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It is the place where the Bronze Horseman is situated which is the most famous and the most poetic monument of our city (it is a monument to Peter the Great and it was created to the order of Catherine the Great and unveiled in 1782). Another notable fact is that it is the first monument ever put up in St. Petersburg!

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 08:43 
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Savior on the Spilt Blood Cathedral


One of the most tragic events in the Russian history happened in 1881.

The most liberal emperor Alexander II who held a lot of advanced reforms in the country and actually abolished serfdom in 1861 was assassinated by a member of the terrorist organization "People's Will".

On the very place where it happened later a beautiful cathedral was put up (1883-1907) called Savior on the Spilt Blood. It is one of the most wonderful and famous cathedrals of our city.

It is designed in the pseudo Russian style and resembles St. Basil Cathedral in the Red Square in Moscow.

Savior on the Blood startles the visitors with its mighty size, multicolored domes, abundance of decor and its interior which is the largest surface in the world covered with mosaics created to religious subjects.

The Russian museum

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Not far from Savior on the Spilt Blood there is a large yellow-colored classical building decorated with snow-white columns. It is the Michael's Palace which is now the home of the second most important museum in St. Petersburg - the Russian Museum. It contains the biggest collection of the Russian Art in the world. Even in Moscow you will not be able to find such a thorough representation of the Russian painting and sculpture.

You will learn about the development of the Russian painting from the 18th century to our days. Most of the artists' names will probably be unknown to you but when you see their very special paintings you are sure to be interested in more knowledge on them. Nobody can be left indifferent to seascapes by Ivan Aivazovsky, poetic Russian landscapes by Isaac Levitan and Ivan Shishkin, historical canvases by Vasiliy Surikov and Mikhail Nesterov, portraits by Fyodor Rokotov, Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov, and many other artists and genres…

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Among the most precious exhibits in the Russian Museum are ancient 12-17th century icons.

Icons are holy images created on wood with tempera. They were not painted or drawn, they were mysteriously CREATED. We do not know most of the names of the icon painters because they were not considered painters. They were thought to have gained a special divine blessing to see the images of God and saints and render them afterwards.

The history of icon painting is so interesting and mysterious that I could go on with my story for hours. We better visit the Russian Museum together and I tell you all about icons, and you see them with your own eyes.

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 09:22 
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Active Orthodox Churches


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But where can the spirit of the authentic icons be better preserved than in an acting Orthodox church?

Oh, you'll be enchanted by the experience of stepping inside, smelling the incense, hearing priests chanting or the choir singing in the ancient Russian language, watching burning candles and seeing people bowing and kissing the foot of an icon…

There are gorgeous icons everywhere. You'll see the holy images of Christ, Virgin, archangels, church patriarchs, prophets, and saints… I will secretly show you the most beautiful icons worth marveling at and tell you in a whisper about different ways to depict Virgin and Child, and more…

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There are a lot of beautiful cathedrals and churches in our city, and here are the names of just some of them - sky-blue St. Nicholas Cathedral with five golden domes, single-domed Transfiguration (Preobrazhensky) and Izmailovsky Cathedrals, Prince Vladimir Cathedral, and of course, our most incredible St. Isaac's Cathedral that you will absolutely love!

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St. Isaac's Cathedral


St. Isaac's was the main cathedral of the city from the time it was finished (1858) up until the October Revolution. The construction of it began in 1818 and lasted for 40 years! Small wonder it did, for the amount of work done was enormous!

The architect who created this miracle was August Montferrand commissioned from France by Nicholas I. He came to Russia when he was 30 and died being 70 the same month the cathedral was consecrated. So it was the work of his whole life indeed! The height of the cathedral is 101, 5 m. Its 72 monumental columns weigh from 64 to 114 tons each. From outside, St. Isaac's is faced with Finnish granite and richly decorated with bas-reliefs and sculpture. There are figures of the four Evangelists, twelve apostles and angels with lanterns on the roof. Actually St. Isaac's is the fourth biggest single-domed cathedral in the world after St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London and Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.

The dome is gilded with 100 kilograms of gold. And St. Isaac's is ranked as number one in the world for the richness of its interior decoration. It just should be looked at! Inside, there is a large iconostasis covered with icons all over. Most of the icons are mosaics. But you will not be able to tell they are! They look like original paintings after which they were made. And it took two masters one year to create only one square meter of a mosaic! This work is really elaborate and time-consuming. But the result is worth it! St. Isaac's is sometimes called "the museum of natural stone" for in its decoration all kinds of stones were used - 16 different kinds of marble from all over the world, malachite, lapis-lazuli, granite etc.

The walls are decorated with beautiful paintings made by the most renowned Russian painters - members of the Academy of Fine Arts, to the stories of the Old and New Testaments. The dome was painted by the president of the Academy of Fine Arts Karl Bryullov to the subject of "Virgin in Glory". Under the very roof in the centre of the dome a white dove is hovering casting divine light upon the astonished visitors… There is much more to see and hear inside of St. Isaac's Cathedral which is now turned to a museum for everybody to admire.

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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 10:22 
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Nevsky Prospect


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St. Isaac's is situated not far from the main street of our city - the Nevsky Prospect. It was the first street laid out in St. Petersburg and named after our great Neva river. Nevsky, as we call it, has always been the most popular street with both the visitors and the guests of our city. The most spectacular palaces are situated here, like the palace of Beloselsky-Belozersky, the Anichkov Palace, the Stroganov palace, and many others.

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It also used to be called "the street of all religions" as churches of different confessions are situated here. It is the center of the modern life of St. Petersburg. Here you'll find the most fashionable and popular restaurants, cafes, night clubs and casinos, shops, boutiques, offices of various companies, theatres, cinemas, administrative buildings, and much, much more…

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Nevsky starts with an immense building of the Admiralty designed in the 19th century by a Russian architect A. Zakharov. In the former times it used to be a fortified shipyard! Now it's a Navy School with a Navy museum. The long gilded spire of the Admiralty with a ship on top is another symbol of our city.

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The Admiralty


St. Isaac's is situated not far from the main street of our city - the Nevsky Prospect. It was the first street laid out in St. Petersburg and named after our great Neva river.

Nevsky, as we call it, has always been the most popular street with both the visitors and the guests of our city. The most spectacular palaces are situated here, like the palace of Beloselsky-Belozersky, the Anichkov Palace, the Stroganov palace, and many others.

It also used to be called "the street of all religions" as churches of different confessions are situated here. It is the center of the modern life of St. Petersburg.

Here you'll find the most fashionable and popular restaurants, cafes, night clubs and casinos, shops, boutiques, offices of various companies, theatres, cinemas, administrative buildings, and much, much more… Nevsky starts with an immense building of the Admiralty designed in the 19th century by a Russian architect A. Zakharov.

In the former times it used to be a fortified shipyard! Now it's a Navy School with a Navy museum. The long gilded spire of the Admiralty with a ship on top is another symbol of our city.



The Neva and the bridges


Nevsky is crossed by three canals which are an integral part of St. Petersburg's beauty. There are a great number of rivers and canals in our city - it is a city "on water". That is why it is often referred to as "the Northern Venice" or "the Northern Amsterdam". There is no pleasure like taking a wonderful boat trip along rivers and canals of our "bridge city".

There are about 200 bridges in the city, and among the most beautiful ones are the Palace Bridge, the Trinity Bridge, the Foundry Bridge and the Bridge of Peter the Great across the Neva river, and the Anichkov Bridge across one of the canals - the Fontanka river. It is situated right in the Nevsky Prospect and is considered to be the most romantic place in our city! The Anichkov Bridge is so famous and loved by all for its four beautiful sculptures of men and horses! They are so expressive and dynamic that you would think they are alive! And each of the sculptures is different!




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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#8  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 11:29 
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The Anichkov Bridge

Nevsky is crossed by three canals which are an integral part of St. Petersburg's beauty. There are a great number of rivers and canals in our city - it is a city "on water". That is why it is often referred to as "the Northern Venice" or "the Northern Amsterdam". There is no pleasure like taking a wonderful boat trip along rivers and canals of our "bridge city".


Oh, the bridges! They will take your breath away. There are about 200 bridges in the city, and among the most beautiful ones are the Palace Bridge, the Trinity Bridge, the Foundry Bridge and the Bridge of Peter the Great across the Neva river, and the Anichkov Bridge across one of the canals - the Fontanka river. It is situated right in the Nevsky Prospect and is considered to be the most romantic place in our city! The Anichkov Bridge is so famous and loved by all for its four beautiful sculptures of men and horses! They are so expressive and dynamic that you would think they are alive! And each of the sculptures is different!









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Post Number:#9  PostPosted: 01 Apr 2010 11:52 
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Peterhof (Petrodvorets)



Everybody knows a lot about Versailles in France, but have you ever heard of the Russian Versailles? It is no less famous and even more fantastic. The place is known as Peterhof (modern name is Petrodvorets) and it was founded as early as 1714 by Peter the Great. Peter saw Versailles when he traveled to France and was quite impressed. But he conceived his own fountain complex on a much grander scale.

As already mentioned, the Northern War with Sweden was going on from 1700 till 1721. In 1709 there was a decisive battle near Poltava in Ukraine which was our brilliant victory and the turning point of the whole war. Peter wanted to commemorate this victory for ages and ages and he dedicated the whole complex of Peterhof to the victory over Karl XII.

A lot of talented architects were working in Peterhof (which means "Peter's court" in Dutch). They created a magnificent ensemble that includes several palaces and three parks. The main attraction in Peterhof is its beautiful Lower Park with 150 fountains and four cascades. The main and the most amazing cascade called the Great Cascade is situated in front of the Great Imperial Palace which was the gala summer imperial residence for 200 years - from 1714 up until the October Revolution when the whole estate was nationalized by a special decree issued by Vladimir Lenin.


The Great Cascade consists of several fountains. The central and the most luxuriant one is "Samson, tearing apart the jaws of the lion". The whole composition of the fountain complex is devoted to the victory over Sweden. Samson symbolizes Russia defeating Sweden - the lion. The Great Cascade is decorated with gilded statues of ancient Greek and Roman gods and heroes, which all are allegories of different events of the Northern War. When the sun is shining, visitors are astonished at the site of the Great Cascade with its gilded figures glistening in the sun, springs of sparkling water and the whole glamour that is felt in everything. This you will not be able to find anywhere in the world, not even in Versailles.


Luxuriant are also the interiors of the Great Palace. Here you will find the richly decorated by F.-B. Rastrelli baroque halls of Elizabethan times (middle of the 18th century) with their gilded wood carvings, painted ceilings, inlaid parquet floors of precious kinds of wood, mirrors, tiled stoves and beautiful original furniture in the marquetry technique. At the same time there are halls which were redecorated by Y. Velten to the order of Catherine the Great in the classical style (1770s). You'll see less pompous but more elegant interiors with moldings to the stories of the Greek mythology, precious silk upholsteries, porcelain vases, beautifully decorated fireplaces, and much more. In the dining rooms on the tables which are laid to the fashion of those times you'll see famous services and tableware produced by Wedgwood and other renowned masters.

After visiting the Great Palace we'll return to the park where there are a great number of fountains to be seen and marveled at, among them - the Roman Fountains, Adam and Eve Fountains, the Lion Cascade, the Golden Hill Cascade and the Dragon Hill Cascade, the Sun Fountain, the Pyramid Fountain, and several trick fountains. And, of course, the Sheaf Fountain in front of the Monplaisir Palace in the very middle of a decorative little garden laid out in the historical style (as it was at the time of Peter). In French "mon plaisir" means "my pleasure", and pleasure it was indeed for Peter the Great for whom this palace was put up in the Dutch style on the bank of the Gulf of Finland.


In the Lower Park there are also other little palaces - the Hermitage and Marly. They give special touch to the surroundings. It is such an unforgettable pleasure to wander among trees, flowers, bushes, palaces, bridges, fountains and pavilions in wonderful weather! You won't be sorry to have visited Peterhof, our precious Russian pearl!

Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin)



If the weather is not so wonderful and it's raining or snowing, or you just feel for something quiet and poetic rather than glorious, the best place to go is Pushkin (former Tsarskoe Selo). It is not to say that there is nothing to marvel at there. It's just… Well, all Russian poets loved Tsarskoe Selo! It has a magic spell over visitors. Our greatest poet ever - Alexander Pushkin (1799 - 1837) - lived and studied there for some time and wrote a lot of beautiful poems in this charming little place. Originally, these lands belonged to Peter !'s wife Catherine I. A modest palace was put up for her at the beginning of the 18th century (named Catherine's Palace after her), which was later redecorated by F.-B. Rastrelli for Elizabeth I in the baroque style.


Later it was the favorite summer residence of Catherine the Great (ruled 1762 - 1796), redecorated for her by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron in the classical style. Still, the palace retained its baroque exterior and that is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world! You won't be able to find palaces of this kind anywhere outside Russia. Inside, you'll find both pompous baroque and elegant classical interiors. Examples of both styles of the great empresses - Elizabeth and Catherine - can be observed in the palace. And - haven't you heard of the "stolen Amber Room"?! Would you like to see it restored as it was at the time of Rastrelli who decorated this interior?


There is also the park all around Catherine's Palace which is so pleasantly shady in summer, so flowery in spring and so poetic in autumn and winter. This place is for visiting all year round. There are a lot of quiet corners in the park where you will suddenly discover a lonely sculpture of a girl sitting on a rock in front of a broken jug with spring water flowing out of it; or a marvelous bridge resembling a temple, or just anything else - the park is full of surprises.


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 Post subject: Re: St. Petersburg - General information
Post Number:#10  PostPosted: 01 May 2010 10:03 
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Destruction and Reconstruction of Peterhof


Tsar Nicholas II was still slowly adding to Peterhof when the Russian Revolution of 1917 overthrew the Romanov monarchy. The grounds and palaces became property of the state and were finally seen by commoners. Until the start of World War II, Peterhof was a museum, fountains collection, and historical site that anyone could visit.

During World War II, as Nazi troops neared the city, curators of the Soviet museum tried to save some of the priceless art works and statues. A few of the fountains were buried before the Nazis arrived, but salvaging efforts were useless.

Peterhof was taken over by an occupying Nazi force from 1941 through 1944, which participated in the siege of the city. Millions of Russian soldiers died defending Peterhof while the Nazis demolished everything during their three year occupation. Land mines were planted under the Hermitage, palaces burned; gardens were shelled while the fountains were used for target practice.

All of Peterhof was broken, vandalized or burnt. It is estimated that almost 34,000 pieces of irreplaceable Russian art were destroyed and the Hermitage left open to the elements. Some pieces, centuries old, were gone in an instant.



As soon as the war ended, the Herculean task of reconstructing Peterhof was undertaken by the ravaged nation. Since then, repair has continued, with much of the money coming initially from Germany as part of war reparations.

Several phases of construction on the grounds and buildings have occurred in the intervening years. Peterhof first reopened in 1952, though much yet remained to be completed. Reconstruction has been slow at times, with attention paid to precise detail.

The fountains began working in 1996 for the first time since the war. They have since delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Many of the artworks (there are far more than can be displayed at any one time despite the size of the building) remain hidden while detailed art restoration continues behind the scenes. Some art pieces that were thought to be unrecoverable have since been restored at Universities and conservatories in other countries. Now, 60 years later, work on pieces that can be restored with current technology is nearly complete. Peterhof is preserved at the height of its glory with tended gardens and replicas of the statues that were looted or destroyed.

The brainchild of Peter the Great who loved the sea perhaps more than anything, Peterhof is a testament to the power of water; symbolized by water wall fountains. More than that, it is part of what gives his city the charm that has lured millions to the edge of the Baltic Sea. For more than 300 years, Peterhof symbolizes what the human spirit can accomplish in the face of human or natural adversity. From what was once a muddy cliff has arisen a monument so grand that the world will never forget the name or the leader Peter the Great.

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