St. Petersburg is a city of magical beauty, a city of White Nights, broad straight avenues, green parks, with countless bridges and canals. The greatest architects of the 18th and 19th centuries created magnificent architectural ensembles in our city.
St. Petersburg reminds some visitors of Rome, while it reminds others of Paris, Vienna or Amsterdam. But really there is no city in the world like St. Petersburg.
Its bridges, canals, granite embankments, railings, museums make our city one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If you come to the Neva River embankment you will certainly see the St. Peter and Paul Fortress, which is considered to be the birthplace of the city. The city started from the small island of Zayachy. It attracted Peter’s attention because of its strategic position. It was here that on the 27th of May 1703 Peter the First laid the foundation of the Fortress.
The Fortress has six bastions connecting with straight walls but this fortress has never played a military role. During Tsar Peter’s rule, it was used as a political prison. And among its first prisoners was Peter’s own son Alexey who plotted against his father. For this reason Alexey was sentenced to death. But on the eve of the execution he was found dead in his own cell.
Many famous people were prisoners in St. Peter and Paul Fortress, among them being Dostoyevsky, Chernyshevsky, and Gorky. In 1924 the Fortress was turned into a museum. The cathedral inside the Fortress was also turned into a museum. The cathedral was built by architect Domenico Trezini between 1712-1733. The Cathedral is 122.5m high. The spire is 40m high and is crowned with a cross. The cathedral is also crowned with a weathervane in the form of an angel with a cross.
The wings of the angel spread about 4m. Inside the cathedral you can see a beautiful icon stand designed by Ivan Zarubny. After the death of Peter the Great, the cathedral became the pantheon for the royal family. The cathedral houses the remains of 42 members of the Romanoff family, including 11 ruling tzars.
Another place, which is certainly worth seeing, is St. Issac’s Cathedral. It took 40 years to build this cathedral. It is 101.5 metres high. It is the third highest cupola-domed cathedral in the world. The first is St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the second is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The total area of the interior of St. Issac’s Cathedral is 4000 sq m. The cathedral was named after St. Issac because Peter’s Birthday fell on the name day of a canonized monk of Dalmatia. The first church of St. Issac was built on Peter’s order soon after St. Petersburg was founded. At first, it was a small wooden building, which was quickly destroyed, and then a stone building was erected in its place. It was built close to the river and because of the weak ground it began to sink. Then finally it was destroyed by the fire. Then it was decided to build a new church of St. Issac further from the Neva River. It was built by architect Rinaldy. But it was not impressive enough to be the capital’s main church. So a competition was announced and French architect Monferran won it. In St. Petersburg there are а lot of places to enjoy. Among them are the Kazan Cathedral, Nevsky Avanue, the Summer Garden, the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, Palace Square, the Trimpluar Arch, the Alexander Column, the Academy of Arts, the Smolny Convent, the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra, Decembrist Square the Bronze Horseman, the Field of Mars, the Church of Savior on the Spilt Blood, Alexander Pushkin Museum, the Flat, the Spit of Vasiliyevsky Island, and the Rostral Columns. Alexander Pushkin loved our city very much and wrote many beautiful poems, dedicating them to St. Petersburg such as this one as follows:
I love you, citadel of Peter’s
I love your elegant austerity of line,
Your broad Neva, whose gracious waters
Mid- granite- clad embankment shine.
I love your traceries iron of gate and railing,
The moonless brilliance of the light
That sheds a beauty never paling
Upon your meditative night.
When, neither lamp or candle hiding
I sit composing verse or reading,
And slumbering mansions towering high,
Stand clear against the lucid sky.
If a foreigner comes to St. Petersburg, he or she can’t miss the Hermitage. It is a brilliant place. Nowhere in the world, can you find a place like the Hermitage. The Hermitage occupies several buildings, which are all connected. The largest of them is the Winter Palace. It was designed by architect Rostrelly for the Russian empress Elizabeth and it was completed in 1762 , the same year that Elizabeth died.
So the first Russian empress who lived here was Catherine the Second. Until the revolution it was the winter residence of Russian tzars. Next to the Winter Palace is the Little Hermitage. It was designed by French architect Vallen de la Monthe. It was built on Catherine the Second’s order to house her collection of pictures. At first it was her private art collection. Very few people could see this collection, hence the name “The Hermitage” which means an isolated place . Next to the Little Hermitage is the old Hermitage, designed by Yuri Felton and it was specially built to house the growing art collection. The light-green and white buildings form the Hermitage Theatre which was erected by Jiacomo Quarengi. It is the former court theatre and now it is the Lecture Hall. On the outside of the old Hermitage, facing Millionnaya street there is the New Hermitage. It was a model museum building for that time.
I believe every citizen has his or her favorite place in St. Petersburg I also have my favorite place. It is the Summer Garden. I like walking there and would like to tell you something about history of the Summer Garden. It is the oldest garden in the city, and was created in 1704. Peter the Great planted its first trees himself. There are a lot of trees, flowers and sculptures and there is one of the oldest buildings in St. Petersburg. It is The Palace of Peter the Great designed by architect Domenico Trezini. It is more like a small house than a palace.
In 1874 the famous railing was erected along the Neva Side. It was designed by architect Yuri Felten. According to local legend, a 19th century English lord, who was a patron of the arts stopped in his boat in the Neva River by the Summer Garden. He admired the black-and-golden railing and iron grille and then set sail for England without going ashore. When asked the reason for this action the lord replied that the goal of this voyage had been achieved and nothing could surpass his expectations and impressions more than the railing. However, I believe that there are many more places in the great Russian Northern Capital that are certainly equally worth seeing, again, and again, and again!