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Behind Suvorov, there’s the Field of Mars – the main military square of the Russian Empire. The military exercises, parades and Guards’ troop shows were conducted here. In the spring time, when snow melted, tens of guards’ regiments headed for the Field of Mars.
The summer season started from a big May parade. It was prepared ahead of time – open tribunes and lodges for the public were mounted. When regiments took their positions on an appointed day, the Field of Mars was transformed. The parade began from a tour of troops by the Emperor. Then, the orchestra played march of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. By the tradition, the guards of the Pavlov Regiment, all, as if specially selected, the low snub-nosed blonds were marching first.
The amazing “homogenous beauty” of the troops Pushkin wrote about was reached by selection of people of the relevant appearance for each of the Guards’ regiments. The Egersky Regiment enlisted the square built brown-haired men. The Moskovsky Regiment – red men. The Semenovsky Regiment – tall blonds with blue eyes, to the collar’s color.
The most spectacular moment of the parade was appearance of the Tsarskoselsky Hussars. It was awaited with special thrill. In a furious gallop on the Field of Mars, a continuous line of red dolmans were rushing. And, all of a sudden, the color was changing because of white hussar's pelisses taken on their shoulders. The public was applauding in ovation!
In 1917, the military square was turned into the City Cemetery. The victims of the February Revolution were buried in the center of the Field of Mars. Mainly, they where those who crushed police departments and banks, assassinated officers on streets. Later, a few well-known Bolsheviks, participants of the October Revolution, were buried here as well.
And, in a few years a memorial was mounted above the graves with a loud title “To Fighters of Revolution” and the Eternal Flame was set on.
During the last war, the Field of Mars remembered about its military purpose. During the blockade, an air-defense battery was standing here, and, trenches were digged out for protection from shells.
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.