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The Alexander Column
Favorite thing: This towering triumphal column was erected in 1833 as a somewhat belated monument to the defeat of Napoleon in 1812. Designed by Auguste de Montferrand, who also designed St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Alexander Column was hewn from the rock face of a cliff in Karelia over a period of two years, requiring the labors of thousands of workers. It was then carefully transported to St. Petersburg, taking an entire year for to complete the transit. On arrival, the monolith was erected by two thousand veterans of the war. It is surmounted by an angel of peace, the visage of which bears considerable similarity to Alexander himself. In keeping with the geometric formality of the Imperial structures of the city, the Alexander column is positioned so as to align perfectly with the entrance to the Winter Palace and the triumphal arch that serves as the entry to the General Staff building opposite.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Favorite thing: Designed as the successor to Moscow's great imperial squares, this vast formal court is best known as the focal point of the great political struggles that transformed Russia during the first decades of the twentieth century.
The first of these events was "Bloody Sunday," the catastrophe that initiated the Revolution of 1905. On the morning of Sunday, January 9, 1905, thousands of striking workers, including their wives and children, marched into the square to present a petition for relief to Nicholas II. They were met by soldiers, who began firing on the crowd almost immediately, killing hundreds (according to some accounts thousands) of the demonstrators. The causes of the massacre are disputed, particularly in light of the complicated political tensions in the government at the time. Some historians, for example, argue that both the demonstration and the military reaction were planned by the conservative secret police, who were alarmed by signs that the Tsar had decided upon reform. Whatever its cause, the effect of Bloody Sunday was clear--popular opposition to the Tsar was galvanized, and conservative reactionaries gained strength in the government.
Fondest memory: In the wake of Bloody Sunday the country's politics became increasingly divisive, and genuine compromise and reform unlikely. Civil unrest broke out all over the country, and, with the disaster of the Russo-Japanese War, the government was forced to accede to popular demands for reform. It soon became clear, however, that Nicholas and his government had no intention of making good on this agreement. Popular discontent and radical political movements were harshly repressed. While these policies were successful for a time, the government's inept conduct during the First World War created an enormous surge of dissent. The critical turning point came in February of 1917, when the underfed, poorly led, and discontented army refused to act to put down strikes in Moscow and St. Petersburg and called for an end to the war. By March, Nicholas had no choice but to abdicate.
A provisional government assumed control under the leadership of the moderates, first Prince Lvov, then (in July) Aleksandr Kerensky. From its seat in the Winter Palace, the Kerensky government tried and failed to gain popular support and restore civil order. Among the socialist anti-government parties, the radical Bolshevik wing gradually gained strength among the increasingly impatient army and workers. Within a few months the Bolsheviks decided to assume power. On the night of October 26 they staged an armed coup d'etat, storming across the Palace Square and seizing the Provisional Government as it met within the Winter Palace. Although the storming of the Winter Palace was by no means the massive popular uprising that it was to become in the Bolshevik commemorations and in Sergei Eisenstein's film October, it was certainly the moment of symbolic birth of the Soviet state.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Parks & Squares
Favorite thing: There are a multitude of parks and squares in St. Petersburg ~ some (such as the Summer Gardens) require a token payment to enter, others are spaces fully open for the public to enjoy.
Fondest memory: We were lucky enough to visit St. Petersburg during ideal weather and these green spaces gave us the perfect opportunity to relax and regenerate.
It was also wonderful to see how many Russians and their families were enjoying the parks, as well. . .
- Arts and Culture
A city of wonders
Favorite thing: Visit the monuments and museums around the Palace Square. This doesn't just mean the Hermitage, but the Admiralty as well. The enormous Palace Square with its Victory Column dwarfs you and makes you feel as Russia should make you feel: tiny. On the picture, you can see the golden spire of the Admiralty to the left, the Hermitage in the centre and the Square further to the right.
Fondest memory: Visiting the Hermitage museum on a rainy Thursday in October. There were few tourists, and in such an gigantic palace it's easy to wander around alone. No surprise that I soon felt very regal, descending marble staircases and admiring golden rooms all by myself!
Favorite thing: Between the Mars Field and the Fontanka River, this is St Petersburg's loveliest and oldest park. Laid out for Peter the Great with fountains, pavilions and a geometrical plan to resemble the park at Versailles, it became a stomping ground for 19th-century ladies (and gentlemen) of leisure. Though changed now, its formal elegance remains.
The modest, two-storey Summer Palace, in the northeastern corner of the park, was St Petersburg's first palace, built for Peter in 1704-14, and now open to the public. Little reliefs around the walls depict Russian naval victories, and many rooms contain early-18th-century furnishings.
Thanks to Paul I, son of Catherine the Great, the magical wooden palace built for Empress Elizabeth to the south of the park was knocked down to make way for the bulky Engineers' Castle. Shame he only got to spend 40 days there before being assassinated. One wing is now owned by the Russian Museum, which stages occasional exhibitions.
Favorite thing: For 200 years the vast Russian empire was ruled from this half-kilometre block at St Petersburg's heart. This is one of Europe's great squares, lined with colourful yet elegant edifices and dotted with monuments commemorating Russia's victory over Napoleon. It witnessed Bloody Sunday in 1905, the Bolshevik's grab for power in 1917, and all-night vigils in the name of democracy during the 1991 coup.
The square is dominated by the green, white and gold rococo fantasy of the Winter Palace, residence of tsars from 1762 to 1917 and the largest part of the famous State Hermitage Museum. In the grey old days visitors came to the city for the museum alone and even today it could probably eat up a week of your precious time. The complex of buildings is the size of a small town - a map and compass are absolute essentials. Four linked riverside buildings - the Winter Palace, the Little and Large Hermitage buildings and the Hermitage Theatre - hold a vast collection of Western European art, with enough chandeliers, over-the-top interior encrustations and tsarist jewels and treasures to have you seeing stars for days. The collection largely dates from the culturally heightened days of Catherine the Great, and many works were gained when Napoleon's power began to wane.
Adjacent to the Winter Palace is the gilded spire of the Admiralty - a good landmark to use when you're out and about. This Empire-style classical building houses a naval college and is replete with trumpeting angels, oversized statues and fountains. In late 2000 funeral services were held here for past graduates of the college who died in the tragically sunk Kursk submarine.
The park offers its visitors...
Favorite thing: The park offers its visitors more attractions besides wonderful fountains. Would you like to try the dress of a lady of last century? I do like this nice service they offer to the visitors of the park. They will dress you up in a very real (though made, of course, recently) costume and let you see the transformation.
Stroll through the streets and...
Favorite thing: Stroll through the streets and squares along the water, where some of the most impressive architecture is to be found. This is Palace Square (facing away from the Hermitage Museum). Nearby you can find beautiful structures like the Naval Academy, several massive cathedrals, and other monuments to Russia's imperial past.
Palace Square and Winter...
Favorite thing: Palace Square and Winter Palace is the heart of the city. Great October Revolution took place here in 1917. Winter Palace, the former Residence of Russian Emperors was built in 1762 (architect Rastrelli) during the reign of Elizabeth, Peter the Great's daughter.The Palace is one or the Hermitage buildings now.
Alexander Column is situated in the very center of the Palace Square. It was erected to commemorate Russian victory over Napoleon. Alexander I reigned Russia at that time, thus the Column was named after him. It is crowned with the figure of an Angel holding a cross - a symbol of peace. The Angel has the face of Alexander I.
Go to the Palace Square, the...
Favorite thing: Go to the Palace Square, the place where the October Revolution took place.
Fondest memory: On the 7th of November, 1917, revolutionary sailors captured an Emperor's Winter Palace, that gives a name to the Square. Square is large and beautiful in sunny weather.
Favorite thing: An especially pretty park is the Mikhailovsky Gardens, located behind the Russian Museum. I saw these birds there and thought they looked interesting.
A city made for walking
Favorite thing: St. Petersburg has dozens of lovely parks; it seems there's a new one everywhere you turn. This particular park is near the Admiralty.
Samarina's General Tip
Fondest memory: The Palace's square(do 1917 was name as Senate quare). Do you remember 1825 year armed
Decembrists ? Yes,yes,this was here.
Visit the Summer...
Favorite thing: Visit the Summer Garden............
Peter the Great brought the statues to Russia from Italy in 1704,when he created the park.......one of the first public gardens in Russia.
Visit the Palace...
Favorite thing: Visit the Palace Square.......
Historic palace square wich has seen the birth of the revolutions that shock the world.
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Saint Petersburg Travel Guide
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