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That five-storey house number 27 at the corner of Pestel street and Ligovsky avenue, is one of the most interesting in this area. Its façade has a whole spread of thin terracotta semicolumns, elegant balconies and bay windows.
Architect Alexey Serebryakov built it in 1877 in a fashionable Mauritania style at the time. The most well-known of its buildings was decorated by Serebryakov with Koran quotations on the Arabian ligature, which he copied, when he visited Spain. The house had immediately drawn attention to it; it was discussed and written a lot in the newspapers, which is marvelous itself because during those years many rental houses were built in Petersburg. There were legends circulated about its interiors with gold-plated fretwork, valuable mosaic and picturesque plafonds. Even stairs were laid down with expensive carpets. Anna Akhmatova remembered how she, as a little girl, was specially taken to see this miracle of architecture.
Such an exotic house was quite fit for the personality of its owner, the Prince Alexander Dmitrievich Muruzi. The Prince’s father originating from an ancient Byzantian family line, took a high position in the Ottoman Empire, but secretly promoted annexing Moldavia by Russia. For this, he was executed by the Turks. By invitation of the Emperor Alexander the First, his widow and children moved to Petersburg. Alexander Dmitrievich graduated from the Page Corps, served in the Kirasirsky Regiment, and after his retirement, he conceived an idea to build a house for himself in an Eastern style.
The house totaled 57 apartments and 7 stores. The whole second storey was occupied with an apartment of the Prince Muruzi himself; a separate stair made of white Karrar marble, leads to the apartment. Eastern luxury used to fill each of the 26 rooms of the Prince’s apartment. The central hall reminded a patio of the Mauritanian Alhambra. Amidst of it, there was a flowing fountain, and vaults were supported with thin marble columns. The Prince spent large amounts of money for construction of his luxurious house. He ran into debt so much that after his death the house was nearly sold out at an auction. But the Emperor Alexander the Third, remembering the family’s credits before Russia, had personally approved granting loans totaling a quarter million Rubles to widow Muruzi. However, this did not help at all, and finally, the rental house had to be sold to General Rein, who owned it up to the Revolution times.
The most expensive rental house of Petersburg, well-known for its extravagant appearance, gained its popularity with no less extravagant inhabitants as well. Almost a quarter of the century, an apartment at this house was rented by a well-known writing couple of Dmitry Merezhkosky and Zinaida Gippius. Their apartment with the view of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, was, probably, the most popular literature saloon of Petersburg at the time.
Senator Dmitry Lyubimov, who lived at the 3rd storey, was often visited by his relative, writer Alexander Kuprin. Most likely, a romantic story, which became a plot in his novel “Pomegranate bracelet”, was taking place here. Alexander Pushkin lived here also, but not the poet, but his older son, a General.
But the Revolution broke out. The former apartment of the Prince Muruzi was occupied with the Committee of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (Esers). When Bolsheviks scattered the Committee, the apartment became a shelter for loafers and criminals. In the spring of 1919, Korney Chukovsky organized a Literature studio in the desolated apartment. Bloc read his poems here. Gorky visited this place also. The studio classes were given by Chukovsky and Gumilev; the audience included Berberova, Zoshenko and Kaverin.
Actually, the fate of the house after the Revolution turned out to be sad, as with all rental houses of Petersburg. The eastern luxury, including sculptures, watches and gold platings, completely disappeared. However, new walls and partitions appeared. Now, one large nobleman’s apartment contained few families: one family for each room. In 1955, a photojournalist Brodsky with his wife and son Joseph moved in one of these rooms.
The future Nobel Prize winner lived here for 27 years. He left here often, but always returned, but on June 4th 1972 he left this place forever, for a forced immigration.
Abroad, Joseph Brodsky did always remember the Muruzi house, wrote about it in his poems, called it “a large cake in the Mauritanian style”.
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.