Place: St Isaac’s Square On the map
Construction time: 1911-1912
Architect: Fyodor Lidval
Style: Art Nouveau
Name: Named after a network of luxurious hotels in the U.S. owned by the millionaires brothers Astors.
Interesting facts: The hotel is considered to be the most prestigious historic hotel in Saint- Petersburg. Herbert Wells, Alain Delon, Maya Plisetskaya, George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Garry Kasparov used to stay there. A world famous singer Madonna declared staying in the Astoria Hotel as the main condition of her visit!
Legends: They say Adolf Hitler planned to hold a victory banquet in the hotel. The Nazi even printed banquet tickets for the victory celebration. But the city withstood a 900-day siege, the enemy never stepped onto this land, so the tickets remained unused.
Place: Palace Square On the map
Construction time: 1819-1829
Architect: Carlo Rossi
Notable features: Facade length is about 600 m, arch of the building is surmounted by a bronze chariot of Glory.
What it was in the old days: the General Headquarters of the Russian Army (the General Staff) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were situated there.
What it is nowadays: The headquarters of the Leningrad Military District. The left part of the building is used for the expositions of the State Hermitage museum.
Interesting fact: The rooms of the Headquarters are closed to the visitors. But few people know that the main ceremonial hall can be seen in the film “007: Golden Eye.” Shooting were allowed by the personal approval of Anatoly Sobchak, the first and the only mayor of St. Petersburg.
Place: Connects Vasilyevsky Island with Admiralteysky Island. On the map
Construction time: 1843-1850
Designer: Stanisław Kierbedź
Name: It was called after the Annunciation Church, located on the bridgehead area, demolished by the Bolsheviks in the XX c.
Interesting facts: Blagoveshchensky Bridge was the first permanent bridge across the Neva, i.e. half of its history Petersburg spent without a single constant bridge! All the other city bridges were floating, and the citizen of the city had to pay for a pass. Floating bridges were installed only in summer. In winter period Neva was crossed over ice, by the way, nowadays it is strictly forbidden.
Legend: They say that Nicholas I recklessly promised to the creator of the bridge that for each constructed span he would receive the new rank. As a result, the project was quickly redesigned towards increasing the amount of spans up to eight. The architect began his work with the rank of engineer-captain and finished it as a full general.
Place: Universitetskaya Embankment On the map
Construction time: 1764-1789
Architects: Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, Alexander Kokorinov
Notable features: On the top of the building we can see an image of the goddess of wisdom Minerva with the face of Catherine the Great. In front of the building you can find two Egyptian sphinxes, they are the same age as the river Neva.
Why it is so called: The Academy of Fine Art is situated in the building, All famous Russian artists of the XVIII-XIX centuries have graduated the Academy. Among them – Karl Briullov, Ilya Repin, Ivan Aivazovsky and many others.
Mystery: Rumor has it that Alexander Kokorinov, the architect of the building, hanged himself on the opening day of the Academy. The reason was Catherine II’s dissatisfaction with the state of the contraction. Her dress became dirty during the inspection of the buildings because of the newly painted walls. Since that time Kokorinov ghost is wandering along the corridors of the Academy. Students believe that if they see the ghost, they certainly will fail their exam!
Place: Universitetskaya Embankment On the map
Architects: Domenico Trezzini, I.Borchardt, I. Schumacher
Notable features: Three buildings of the State University are located on the embankment. The main red-coloured building was originally built for the 12 ministries of the Russian Empire. In the XVIII century ministries were called colleges, so construction has been called “the Twelve Colleges building.” Gray building was planned as a residence of Peter II (grandson of Peter the Great), he died before the completion of the construction; nowadays the Department of Philology and Oriental Study is situated here. Yellow building was built as an arena for First Cadet Corps, where cadets trained to marsh; now a variety of concerts and festivals is hold there.
Interesting facts: Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and even Vladimir Lenin graduated from the Law Department of the State University. Vladimir Lenin passed the exam for a university course externally.
Place: Universitetskaya Embankment On the map
Construction time: 1710-1720
Architects: Giovanni Maria Fontana, Gottfried Johann Schädel
Style: Petrine Baroque
Notable features: The palace was the largest building in the Petrine Petersburg. All the main events of the Peter’s reign took place in this palace. Meetings with foreign ambassadors were also organised here.
Name: Palace belonged to Alexander Menshikov, close friend of Peter the Great, the first governor of the city and probably the most famous bribe taker in the Russian history. Palace of Peter the Great was smaller than the governor’s house. Nowadays the building houses a museum where you can find the restored interiors of the Petrine era.
Legend: Menshikov tried to dissuade Peter from building a new capital on the Neva swamp. To convince the emperor he showed him a high birch and said that during the last flood water reached its top. Peter laughed and said: “Your palace, Aleksashka, will stand on the exact place of the birch!” It is believed that the Menshikov Palace really was constructed on the place specified by the emperor.
About Museum: The museum is clearly undervalued. It is little known and seldom visited, although the exposure was created at a very high level. If you have already visited the Hermitage, the Yusupov Palace on the Moika, Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof – it’s time to visit the Menshikov Palace.
Place: Trinity Square On the map
Notable features: This is the first bridge in St. Petersburg, the “grandfather” of more than 300 existing bridges of the city.
Interesting fact: In 2003 in front of the bridge the monument to the hare was erected. The sculpture of the hare was placed there because the Peter and Paul’s fortress was constructed on the Hare Island. The island was called so long before the foundation of the city, probably because of the abundance of hares in the surrounding areas.
Place: Peter and Paul Fortress On the map
Construction time: 1703, reconstructions during the XVIII – XX cent.
Architects: J.Lambert, I.Kirchenstein, B.-H.Minih and others.
Why it is so called: The Cathedral, dedicated to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, is situated in the centre of the fortress.
Notable features: The width of the walls is about 20 m. The casemates were installed inside of the walls. Usually the casemates are associated with the prison, but in these rooms were used mostly as the barracks for garrison. The places called “magazins”, that means warehouses of ammunition and food.
Legend: One half of the fortress walls faced with granite, but another half left without facing. Argue that Catherine the Great once went to the balcony of the Winter Palace, and paid attention to the fact that the red wall, opening onto the embankment, looked very ugly. The empress gave the instructions and the funds for covering the walls of fortress with granite. However, as it often happened in Russia, half of this money had disappeared. That is why granite was only on one part of the walls, which is opening to the Winter Palace.
About Museum: On the territory of the fortress you can find about two dozens expositions and exhibitions. Some of them are located in the casemates. If you visit the exhibition “Printing premises”, you can observe the casemates free of charge. Working hours: 10.00am-6pm, Wen-day off.
Place: Palace Embankment On the map
Construction time: XVIII-XIX cent.
Architects: Alexander Rezanov, Andrei Stackensneider, Antonio Rinaldi and others.
Style: Classicism, eclectic
Interesting fact: The emperor Paul had 10 children, Nicolas had 7, Alexander II – 8. So there is nothing unusual that the palaces for the Grand Dukes were so numerous.
Contemporary purpose: The various scientific research institutes and government agencies are situated there. The Marble Palace is a branch of the Russian Museum.
Legend: They say that the tradition of decorating the envelope of the newborn with a blue or red ribbon appeared in the imperial St. Petersburg. In the old times this tradition concerned only the Grand Duke children. The boys received the Order of St. Andrew, the girls – the Order of St. Catherine. The ribbons of these orders were accordingly of blue and red color. After the revolution it was decided to democratize the tradition – that’s how all the new-borns received blue or red ribbons.
Place: Troitskaya (Trinity) Square On the map
Construction time: 2003
Architect: “Iak” architect bureau
Interesting fact: The chapel marks the place where one of the first churches of our city was situated. On this place Russia became an Empire, because Peter the Great solemnly proclaimed himself emperor in 1721 in the Trinity Church, located here. The occasion for the ceremony was the victory in a long war with Sweden. The war was conducted for the Baltic lands. To the point, Peter and Pauls fortress was founded by Peter the Great to defend these lands from Sweden. The word “emperor” is originally latin: this was the name for a victorious commander, who succeed to come back with a triumph.
Video: Reconstruction of Trinity Church, a fragment of the film “Petrine Petersburg”.