St. Petersburg had become a metropolis by the latter half of the 19th century. Finns got many of their luxury items from the city, and even by Russian standards the city was exceptionally luxurious and fashionable.
Helsinki is like a little St. Petersburg: the cities have a great resemblance. Finns worked on the construction of St. Petersburg, and Helsinki was influenced by the architecture of St. Petersburg. In 1985 Taylor Hackford directed the movie White Nights, in which Helsinki is used to portray St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Peter the Great'sVersaillesSome sights from the days of Peter the Great still remain. For example, there is the Cabin of Peter the Great, where the Czar lived for six years as he oversaw the construction of his new city. He also resided in the Summer Palace. It is more stately than the log cabin, but not nearly as majestic as the palaces of later rulers.
For the greater part, the Peter and Paul Fortress was built durign the reign of Peter. Its history is gloomy: hundreds of hard labor workers died building the fortress. In later years, political prisoners, such as Peter's son Aleksei, were held captive and tortured in the fortress. The Romanoff ruling family is buried in a cathedral inside the fortress.
The Peter and Paul Fortress on the shores of the Neva River
On the coast of the Gulf of Finland, about an hour's drive from St. Petersburg, is Peterhof. The summer palace was supposed to become Peter's Versailles. Among the most important attractions of Peterhof are the cascade-like water fountains. For 200 years, the palace served as a summer residence for the czars and their families.
Empresses Left Their Markon ArchitectureElizabeth built a luxurious baroque-style Winter Palace as her winter residence. This was the official residence of the ruling family until the revolution. The palace served as a military hospital during World War I.
The Hermitage Theater, the Small and the Great Hermitage were built alongside the Winter Palace to accommodate the extensive art collection of Catharine II. The New Hermitage was completed in 1851. Soon after this, Nicholas I opened the New and the Great Hermitage for public as a museum. The Winter Palace was connected to the Hermitage museum during Soviet rule.
The Empress Elizabeth founded Smolny Convent, which was a school for young noblewomen. The convent is a combination of Russian architechture and West European baroque. The construction of the convent progressed slowly, and under the rule of Catharine the Great the work was discontinued. In 1895 the convent was finished by Nicholas I. The rough, white interior of the convent is totally opposite to its grand exterior.
Construction ofSt. Isaac's CathedralSt. Isaac's Cathedral is one of the world's largest cathedrals, and its construction was a major effort. Thousands of wooden pilars were rammed into the marshy ground to support the weight of the church (300,000 metric tons). The cathedral was opened in 1858. It was used as a museum of atheism during the Soviet rule. Even today the cathedral is officially a museum.
In 1975 a monument was founded in the memory of those who died in the siege of Leningrad and also in the honor of those who survived the siege. Near the monument is an underground exhibition hall. In the hall visitors are greeted with solemn music and the sound of a metronome, which was broadcast on radio throughout the war as a symbol of the heartbeat of the city. The dim light in the hall comes from bronze lamps. There are 900 of them, one for each day of the siege.
Catharine Phillips: Eyewitness Travel Guides: St. Petersburg
Venäläisyys - niin tuttu vieras, niin kaukaa lähelle. Article in Anna 51-52/2002. Only in Finnish
|The Temple of Kazan was a museum of religion and atheism during the time of the Soviet regime.|