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The Admiralty is one of the most well-known architectural memorials of Petersburg. You can see its eastern part – the huge yellow building with white columns and a large passage arch, which is looking at the side of the Embankment.
The current building of the Admiralty repeats all contours of the first Petersburg shipyard founded by Peter the Great even in 1705. The main ship-building yard of Russia in the Baltic Sea was stretching along Neva River for more than 400 meters. Here, up to ten big sailing vessels could be built at the same time. A one-storey wooden building, which was stretching along Neva, was surrounding the slipways from three sides. It contained storehouses, forges, workshops and services of the Admiralty. The Northern war was on, and, therefore, the Admiralty was surrounded with earth mound with five bastions and ditches filled with water. To prevent the enemy from approaching unnoticed, the Admiralty was deforested around it; this is how the Admiralty meadow was made.
The first vessel coming off the Admiralty stocks in 1706 was an 18-cannon pram – a shallow-draught flat-bottomed ship designed for firing enemy shores. The next one was a small yacht “Hope” and high-speed snow ship “Lizet”. In 1709, after the victory of Poltava, Peter the Great himself laid 54-cannon battleship “Poltava”. In total, during Peter the Great reign, 262 naval vessels were built on the Admiralty shipyard.
In the beginning of the C19th, Alexander the First decided to rebuild the Admiralty in a way that it would fit in its location in the center of the Imperial capital. Implementation of this project was assigned to architect Andrean Zakharov. Keeping to its original plan, Zakharov built two geometrically similar buildings. Inner production building, which is open to the river, is included in the outer administrative building, which is turned with three facades to the city. The outer building hosted the Naval Ministry, the Naval General Staff and the Main Hydrographic Administration. The inner building still had workshops and storehouses. Old earth mounds around the Admiralty were leveled to the ground, the ditches were filled and instead, a wide boulevard was laid.
Finally, the Admiralty has become what we can see it today. The central element of the whole building, the high Admiral tower, where the highest Navy Administration body was located. The golden ship on its sharp-ended spire is one of the symbols of Petersburg.
The construction of sail vessels on the Admiralty shipyards continued until 1844. After that, slipways, docks, stocks and workshops moved to a new place at the mouth of Neva River, and the vacant territory was assigned for civil development.
During the centuries of Empire St. Petersburg was a grand city with ceremonial buildings, rich and pompous palaces. Even today St. Petersburg can boast a huge number of palaces, including some of the grandest residences not just in Russia, but in the whole of Europe.
Our audio guide will take you to the most famous palaces and Grand residences of St. Petersburg. We can start with the Tauride Palace and Garden, one of the largest and most historic complexes in Russia. This palace was designed for Grigory Potemkin in a rigorous Palladian style. In the 19th century, the palace was transformed into a residence for minor royalty. It had been used to host balls and exhibitions until 1906, when it was given as a seat of the first Russian parliament, the Imperial State Duma.
You will also hear the history of the Winter Palace, the most prominent palace in Russia. The Winter Palace not only physically dominates Palace Square and the south embankment of the Neva River, but also plays a central political, symbolic, and cultural role in the three-century history of the city. It was declared part of the State Hermitage Museum on 17 October 1917. Now the Winter Palace, the Hermitage and all historical landmarks of St. Petersburg are enlisted by the UNESCO.
Another famous building is Anichkov Palace located next to Anichkov Bridge across the Fontanka River. It’s one of the oldest buildings on Nevsky Prospect commissioned by Empress Elizabeth in 1741. When the palace was completed she presented it to Aleksey Razumovsky, her favourite and unofficial spouse.
Mariinsky Palace, the last neoclassical imperial palace to be constructed in Saint Petersburg, was built between 1839 and 1844 by the court architect Andrei Stackensneider. The palace stands on the south side of St Isaac's Square, just across the 99-metre-wide Blue Bridge from Saint Isaac's Cathedral. The palace was conceived by Emperor Nicholas I as a wedding present to his daughter Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna.
During the tour you will also see the houses and mansions of famous court and military people: The House of Saltykov, The Marble Palace, The Vladimir Palace, The Mikhailovsky Castle, The Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace, The House of Gagarin, etc. Each building has its own history sometimes dramatic.
Take a walk in the Summer Garden. It was founded in 1704 by order of Peter the Great, who was personally involved in planning it, and is laid out according to strict geometrical principles. The Summer Garden is home to marble statues acquired from Europe especially for Russia's new capital, and also to rare flowers and plants, as well as fountains.
The Field of Mars, not far from the Summer Garden, has a long and varied history dating back to the very beginning of the city's history. You will listen to it while walking. To your attention will also be the stories and legends of The First Engineer Bridge, The Salt City, The Building of Senate and Synod, The Isakievsky Cathedral, The Petropavlovsk Fortress.
With audio visual materials you will also get a map that won’t let you lose your way.