The Palace Squareis the main square in the city enclosed by Rastrelli's beautiful Baroque Winter Palace, Rossi's imposing General Staff Building and the historical home of the Russian Navy - the Admiralty, and centered on the impressive, 155 foot-tall Alexander Column. Palace Square has played a unique role in Russian history. Before the Revolution the square was the setting for colourful military parades, often led by the tsar on horseback.
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Peter and Paul fortressThe founding of the Peter and Paul Fortress on 27 May 1703, on the orders of Peter the Great, is considered to mark the founding of the city. It was first built in wood and was later replaced, section by section, in stone by Domenico Trezinni. Its history is a gruesome one, since hundreds of forced labourers died while building the fortress and its bastions were later used to guard and torture many political prisoners, including Peter's own son Alexis. The cells where prisoners were once kept are open to the public, alongside the magnificent cathedral which houses the tombs of the Romanovs.
St. Isaac's CathedralFully restored inside and out, St. Isaac's is one of the world's largest and most ornate cathedrals, its interiors adorned with gold trim, mosaics and paintings. Designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand in 1818 the church was named in tribute to Peter the Great who was born on the day of St. Isaac of Dalmatia. St. Isaac lived in the 4th century AD, he was persecuted by the Roman Emperor Valens. Peter had him for his patron saint.
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Singer sewing machines buiildingHouse of "Singer" (also known as the "House of Books") is on 28 Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. The building with attic in the Art Nouveau style was constructed in 1902-1904 by the architect Paul Suzor for Singer Sewing Machine Company in Russia. First they wanted to build a skyscraper, similar to the building in New York. But buildings in the center of St. Petersburg could not exceed 23.5 meter. Architect brilliantly allowed this contradiction: on the top of the building he erected an elegant tower, crowned with a glass globe. This tower creates the impression of altitude. It was the first fire-proof building made of metal, glass and concrete. Since 1919 the building has been used as the House of Books, the largest book store in the city. It takes two floors of the building. A number of publishing houses are on the upper floors.
Church on spilled bloodThe church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built on the spot of the assassination of Alexander II, who was murdered here on March 1 of 1881 by the members of the terroristic revolutionary organization “People’s Will”. The church was designed by the architect Parland as a replica of St.Basil’s cathedral in Moscow. Actually the task was to make it look like an old Russian church of the XVI-XVII centuries. Although the foundation stone was laid in October 1883 the building was completed in1907. Five cupolas of the church are covered with jewellers’enamel. 144 mosaic coats of arms on the bell tower represent the regions, towns and provinces of the Russian Empire. They were intended to represent the grief shared by all Russians in the wake of Alexander’s assassination. There are 20 dark red granite plaques on the outer walls engraved in gilt letters with the most outstanding events of Alexander II’s reign: such as the abolition of serfdom in 1861, and others.
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PeterhofPeterhof is located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland on the distance about 29 kilometres from the centre of St. Petersburg. It is known throughout the world as a jewel of Russian art, a place of parks, palaces and fountains. In the past, it was an exquisite summer residence for Russian tsars. Peter the Great was the first to realise that he would need not only a new capital and a naval base on the Gulf of Finland, but also a new country palace. He commissioned a Versailles-by-the-sea from the French architect Leblon, who liked many of the tsar`s ideas and soon translated them into reality. Nowadays, the whole complex comprises the Grand Palace, the Lower and the Upper Parks with several park pavilions, 150 fountains and five monumental cascades. The Grand Palace was redesigned by Bartolomeo Rastrelly, the favourite architect of Peter`s daughter, Elizabeth, in the mid 18th century. Its fabulous Baroque decoration surpasses any expectations. The palace houses collections of Russian and European paintings, sculpture, furniture, porcelain and crystal ware.
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PavlovskPavlovsk is a superb palace-and-park ensemble of the late 18th - early 19th century, situated 30 kilometres from St. Petersburg. It was used as a summer residence for the Russian emperor Paul I and his family. Charles Cameron was commissioned by Catherine the Great to build the heir-apparent`s residence, but when Paul came to the throne, he brought in Vinchenzo Brenna who added romantic touches to Cameron`s classical design. The Great Palace stands on a high bluff overlooking the river and dominates the surrounding parkland. The landscape park, one of the largest in Europe, covers an area of 600 hectares.
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Tsarskoe SeloTsarskoye Selo (Tsar`s village) about 25 kilometres from St. Petersburg, was the home of the imperial family from the days of Peter the Great until the time of the last tsar, Nicolas II. It is a fascinating monument of world architectural and gardening art during the 18th and 19th centuries. Tsarskoy Selo is quite different from Peterhof. Here, there are no massed fountains and no vistas over the sea. Here, you are much inland, in a beautiful English-style park, unrestrained by the geometrical formality of the "Russian Versailles." The centre of the ensemble is the Catherine Palace, containing exquisite objects d`art, furniture, paintings and unique collections of porcelain, amber and bronze.
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References from my tourists:
Dave Ansell: Hi Nico Sorry ...meant to add comments earlier but I'm too busy dreaming of lovely St Petersburg, and all those great Russian boys! You were wonderful - you know so much and made my two weeks so good. I love eating in Cafe Dali (such cute waiters!). And I love Central Station and can't wait to get back there with all those hot go-go boys. Best New Year's Eve I've ever had...