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The western side of the Senate Square is closing with an architectural ensemble in style of the late classicism. That is the building of Senate and Synod, joined by an arch thrown over Galernaya Street.
Its creator, architect Karl Rossi, had implemented the task of the Emperor Nicholas the First “to show the structure the nature of a large area”. Both state bodies the Senate and the Synod were founded by Peter the Great, who, when departed from the country, used to transfer the Senate the whole fullness of his power. But, overtime, the Senate’s functions changed, and, finally, it turned into the highest legal and supervision body of the Russian Empire.
The Synod occurred in Russia after abolition of the Patriarchy by Peter. That was the highest governing body in the Russia Orthodox Church, the kind of “Church Ministry”. The Synod included the highest clergy, but it was headed by an Attorney General – a secular official, who submitted directly to the Emperor.
The Senate was located in a building standing closer to Neva river. The arch joining the buildings symbolizes the unity of the church and the state in the Russian Empire. In the niches of facades of the Senate and Synod, there are 16 allegoric statues: Faith, Truth, Wisdom, Jurisprudence and Strength…A bronze group crowning the arch is the embodiment of Justice and Piety.
During the Soviet time, the Senate and the Synod were abolished. Today, the Senate’s building is occupied with the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. The Presidential Library after Boris Yeltsin is located in the Synod’s building.
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.