May 27, 2003
Heads of states who arrive for 300th anniversary celebrations of St. Petersburg are seen inside St.Isaac's Cathedral Friday. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool)
Saint-Petersburg. Peter and Paul Cathedral
Birds-Eye View of St. Petersburg
The Peter And Paul Fortress
The Peter And Paul Fortress
St Petersburg's In Photos
Thursday, May 29, 2003
The laser show staged by Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata over the Neva River by the State Hermitage Museum was the visual highlight and culmination of City Day.
Catherine The Great's Palace
The history of St. Petersburg
The city of St. Petersburg is relatively young according to European and Russian standards. Founded in 1703. Though the city is rather young it has rich and fascinating history. Since the days of Peter I's "Paradise" and "North Venice" till nowadays St. Petersburg has been living an interesting life.
Since its birth Petersburg was the city of myths and mystery. You can hardly find such a young city wrapped in exciting stories, astonishing myths and mysterious legends. The unique history of the city is not only reflected in numerous rumors and still alive in destiny of people gazing through time from old portraits. The whole sophisticated development of St. Petersburg is materialized in its palaces and temples, park ensembles, street labyrinths and multistoried houses.
Like any other large city St. Petersburg will tell his stories to every attentive and interested observer. Outstanding personalities of culture and history - military leaders, courtiers, tsars and princes, artists and poets, writers and travelers lived and walked here. Come here to adore this "North Venice" of Peter the Great and his magnificent daughter Elizabeth; the city made the Russian Empire great power; where Lomonosov, Derzhavin, Pushkin, Gogol and Dostoevsky wrote their masterpieces. Come to get to know the history of St. Petersburg, White Nights of mysterious North Palmira and to see the spires of the Admiralty and Peter and Paul Fortress.
The lavish celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Russian city of St Petersburg, celebrated while several world leaders and President Bush visited with President Putin before their G8 Summit in France.
The festivities marking St. Petersburg's tricentennial centered on the city itself on Tuesday, officially commemorating the day in 1703 when Peter the Great laid the cornerstone of the Peter and Paul Fortress, the event that started it all.
The day began somberly with church services at the St. Isaac's and Kazan cathedrals and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Bronze Horseman - the statue of Peter on Ploshchad Dekabristov. Other official events, attended by Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, included a parade of military cadets, the opening of a new entrance to the State Hermitage Museum and an evening concert to inaugurate one of the few functional gifts to the city from other cities, regions and countries to mark the occasion: A Steinway piano, presented to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic by the sister city of Hamburg.
Another practical gift was 100,000 euros' worth of medical equipment to City Children's Hospitals No. 1 and No. 19, given by the Austrian city of Graz.
Most gifts, however, were aimed to please the senses, with trees, monuments and a mountain peak being the most prominent.
The favorite was trees. The Siberian republic of Altai sent 300 of its famed cedars, Helsinki matched that with 300 apple trees, but Japan outdid them both with 1,000 of its celebrated cherry trees.
"The sakuras are now in the botanical garden, getting used to the climate," said Vyacheslav Burtsev, spokesperson for the city's foreign relations committee. "But, with time, they will be flowering in parks across the city."
Next in line in terms of popularity were sculptures. The city of Milan, with help from the Italian Embassy, adorned St. Petersburg's Manezhnaya Ploshchad with monuments to four great architects who left an indelible mark on the so-called Venice of the North: Quarengi, Rastrelli, Rossi and Rinaldi. The Greeks and Canadians have also set up monuments to their famous sons, while the mostly Muslim republic of Tatarstan erected a bronze bust of Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukai in front of the city's newly renovated main mosque, whose turquoise domes twinkle not far from the fortress.
Tatarstan made at least one more contribution to beautifying the city by painting buildings along Kazanskaya Ulitsa, named after the country's capital.
But not all the birthday presents received an equally warm reception.
Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi complained that the metal-and-glass Mayak Mira, or Peace Lighthouse, a gift from France unveiled Tuesday on Sennaya Ploshchad, clashed with the city's aesthetic image.
"We don't need this glass monument on Sennaya Ploshchad," Agence France Presse quoted him as saying. "Sennaya Ploshchad is a homogeneous space protected as a UNESCO heritage site, and constructing this monument will breach its integrity."
Shvydkoi added that nothing new should be built in the historic center of St. Petersburg "other than badly needed public utilities."
Thus far, the two most extravagant - and certainly the highest - gifts have been a mountain peak and an asteroid. Mountain-climbers from St. Petersburg and North Ossetia scaled a 3,500-meter peak in the Caucasus range last week and affixed a plaque there, naming the mountain in honor of the city's tricentennial, Interfax reported. The certificate for the asteroid, part of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, was presented to Governor Yakovlev by Nobel laureate Zhores Alfyorov, the Vesti.ru Web site said.
Other gifts included a small city square built with support from the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. The square resembles the crisscross pattern of the St. Andrew flag, since the regions share a rich maritime history. A number of religious gifts were also presented, among them a copy of a 19th-century cross made from coins paid by soldiers for prayers as they went off to the Crimean War in 1854.
With most of the ceremonial niceties out of the way, the city's attention turned in the evening to less somber events, including fireworks and a laser show.
At 10 p.m., a replica of the Shtandart - the boat built on Peter the Great's orders to become the first in the Russian Navy - led a parade of other vessels past the State Hermitage, in a replay of a similar procession that was a highlight of the city's anniversary celebrations 100 years ago.
The water parade was followed by another tradition for the city's birthday - a fireworks display.
But the main attraction, a laser show by Japanese artist Hiro Yamagato, didn't quite live up to its billing. Many of the estimated 1.5 million people who thronged to the banks of the Neva expected to see huge hologram-like figures projected onto a screen of smoke above the water. Alas, the wind sweeping the river blew away much of the artificial haze, leaving a few lonely green beams flashing in the night sky.
Peter I founded a new Russian fortress on little Hare Island in the Neva delta in 1703 and called it Sankt-Piterburgh. Work on the fortifications started in 1704; Peter and the city's first governor, Alexander Menshikov, decided to make St. Petersburg the new capital of Russia, which would not suffer in comparison with any other European capital in its splendour and importance. The general design for the city was drawn up by the architects Trezzini, Korobov and Yeropkin. They laid the basis for the planning of the new city with a trident of main avenues fanning out from the Admiralty.
The city has an area of 606 sq. km., but if you include the immediate suburbs on the lowlands along the Neva and the Gulf of Finland, it is 1439 sq. km. The city measures 44 km from north to south and 25 km from east to west.
St. Petersburg developed according to a strict, well thought-out plan, which had been finalised by 1712. The wide Neva and all the numerous other rivers and canals were incorporated into the city's design and created its scale. 1865 saw the division of the city into 12 administrative sections. It is now divided into 20 administrative districts.
The historic centre of the city is Palace Square, which incorporates the Winter Palace, the General Staff Headquarters and Ministries Buildings. The Winter Palace used to be the Imperial residence. Several rooms in the palace were used to house unique works of art, and these rooms came to be known as the Hermitage. Later more buildings were constructed for the growing collections - the Small Hermitage, the Great Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre and the New Hermitage. All these buildings now make up the State Hermitage - an enormous museum of art, history and culture. The collection includes paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and many other artists, as well as historical and cultural objects from many countries.
THE VENICE OF THE NORTH
St. Petersburg is built on 42 islands at the Neva delta where the river flows into the Gulf of Finland. It is one of the world's leading cities in terms of its number of rivers, islands and bridges. St. Petersburg is sometimes called a museum of bridges - it has over 300 of them.
69 rivers and other waterways flow through the city and its immediate environs; within the city limits there are 40 rivers, tributaries, canals and other waterways with a total length of 217.5 km. The principal ones are the Great and Lesser Neva, the Great, Medium and Lesser Nevka, the Fontanka, the Karpovka, the Okhta, the Zhdanovka, the Moika, Chernaya Rechka and the Obvodnyy Canal.
THE MAIN STREET
Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg's main street. It began with the clearing of a straight cut through the forest and the building of a road on it.
The straight, wide thoroughfare starts from the Admiralty, passes through Ploshchad Vosstaniya and ends at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. It was named after Alexander Nevsky (or possibly after the monastery, which was also called Nevsky). The city's main highway contains St. Petersburg's major shops, theatres and museums.
In the early 20th century there were more than 100 islands in the city, but as a result of engineering work to develop the marine facade their number was reduced to 42. There are over 580 bridges, including 20 that can be raised (7 of these cross the Neva); the total area occupied by the river within the city's boundaries is 32 km (its total length from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland is 74 km). The length of the marine embankment within the limits of the modern city is about 35 km.
ST. PETERSBURG - A NAVAL CITY
A great deal in St. Petersburg's artistic decoration is reminiscent of the city's naval glory, which is inextricably linked with the expanses of the Baltic Sea. Peter I did all he could to ensure that the sails of Russian ships were seen along the Baltic coast. Russia became a formidable naval power, confirming its superiority with glorious victories and round-the-world voyages.
St. Petersburg's first theatre was opened by Peter I's sister Natalya in 1709. The city is famous for its theatres - not only for the companies, but for the beauty of the theatres themselves. From the earliest years of St. Petersburg theatres were built into the Imperial palaces, while the imposing, monumental buildings of the public theatres were erected on the city's squares. St. Petersburg is rightly known as the cultural capital.
The city boasts one of the oldest circuses in the country, opened in 1877. A great contribution to the musical heritage of the city and the country is made by the Shostakovich Philharmonia and the Glinka State Academic Capella.
Among St. Petersburg's unique attractions are its numerous palaces, constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the city was the capital of the Russian state; they formed the ceremonial face of the city. Several of the palaces and other buildings are outstanding examples of world architecture. They include the vast Winter Palace, the principal feature of Palace Embankment and Palace Square. Also worthy of attention are the Mikhailovsky Palace, the architecture along Nevsky Prospekt and the Engineers' Castle, which overlooks the expanse of the Field of Mars.
CATHEDRALS AND CHURCHES
St. Petersburg has 10 cathedrals, 39 Orthodox churches, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches, an Armenian-Gregorian church, a Buddhist temple, a Muslim mosque and two synagogues. The world-famous cathedrals are: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of the Holy Trinity - one of the leading examples of 18th century Russian ecclesiastical architecture; the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan - a monument of Russian military glory, featuring trophies from the Patriotic War of 1812; and an example of classicist architecture - the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ ("The Saviour on the Blood").
MEMORIALS OF MILITARY GLORY
Patriotism, heroism, self-sacrifice and valour arouse particular respect. It is not surprising that the people's feats of arms are reflected in the splendid architecture, the numerous monuments and the names of streets and squares in St. Petersburg.
THE SUMMER GARDEN
The Summer Garden is one of the favourite spots in our city for locals and visitors alike. It is situated in one of the outstanding sections of embankment on the left bank of the Neva and occupies nearly 12 hectares. The garden was created in 1704 according to an idea of Peter I; it became his formal residence and the city's greatest adornment.
Arts' Square (Ploshchad Iskusstv) comprises the Russian Museum, the Mussorgsky Opera House, the Musical Comedy Theatre, the Great Hall of the Philharmonia and the Ethnographic Museum. From 1819-1825 a palace designed by architect Karl Rossi was built for Tsar Alexander I's brother Mikhail. Today the Mikhailovsky Palace is the home of the Russian Museum, one of the world's great museums containing the largest collection of Russian fine arts: ancient icons, paintings by Kiprensky, Shchedrin, Venetsianov, Bryullov, Kramskoy, Repin, Surikov, Serov and Vrubel, portraits by Nikitin, Rokotov, Argunov, Levitsky and Borovikovsky.
PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS
Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in St. Petersburg; building started within a month of the city's foundation on 29 June 1703. It was completed on 1 April 1704 and dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul Fortress is the Imperial burial-vault: it contains the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses. Marble sarcophagi are installed over the graves of the Tsars and members of their families.
Over the course of two centuries from St. Petersburg's foundation in 1703, magnificent palace and park complexes were constructed close to the Russian capital: Peterhof (Petrodvorets), Strelna, Oranienbaum (Lomonosov), Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), Pavlovsk, Gatchina and a number of other country residences for Emperors, Grand Princes and grandees. They reflect all stages in the development of Russian architecture and landscaping from the 18th to 20th centuries.
ST.-PETERSBURG CULTURAL LIFE STATISTICS
Cultural institutions working in St.-Petersburg:
City network museums: 17 (including Central Exhibition Hall "Manege") and 16 affiliations
Museums subordinated to the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation: 8 and 10 affiliations
Municipal museums: 10
Departmental museums: 83 (including museums subordinated to: Russian Federation Ministries, City Administration Committees, Russian Academy of Sciences network,City Higher Education Establishments, Enterprises and Institutions ) School museums: 86
State mass network libraries available to everyone: 188
Federally subordinated libraries: 2
Departmental libraries (subordinated to: City Higher Education Establishments, Trade Unions, Colleges and Technical Colleges, Museums, Theatres): 1080
City network theatres : 20
Federally subordinated theatres: 3
Municipal theatres: 21
Regionally subordinated theatres,working in the city: 5
Theatre collectives (private, departmental, of public organizations): probably 60 (the number varies depending on the season)
City network concert organizations: 17 and 1 affiliation
Subordinated to the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation: 1 (St.-Petersburg Academic Philharmonic Hall named after D.D.Shostakovich)
Concert organizations (private, departmental, of public organizations): 98 (including 68 music clubs, organizing "live" music concerts)
City network culture houses: 2
Municipal culture houses: 25
Departmental culture houses: 25
City parks: 6
Official St. Petersburg Site
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Times - Photos
Guide To Russia
State Hermitage Museum
> St Petersburg City News Site
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