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One of the best museums of the sort in Europe, the Museum of Applied Arts by Baron Stieglitz, is tightly joining to the Northern end of the Church of the Holy Panteleymon.
The building of the Museum itself and its interiors are really furnished with a Palace magnificence. Each of the halls is made in a certain historic style, according to the collections placed therein. The Museum is a part of the large training and museum complex comprising of the Museum itself and the Petersburg Art and Industry Academy. Everything in it from the vast collections to elegant door handles and window grates was called to help the students of the Academy to develop taste and learn secrets of old Masters.
The idea of creating a museum and an attached art college belongs to the Baron Alexander Stieglitz, a well-known financier and gentleman of virtu. His contemporaries called him a “Russian Rothschild”. Stieglitz was fabulously rich. His wealth was estimated in a hundred million Rubles, in other words, the half of the Russian Empire’s budget. Stieglitz built manufactures and railroads, created first insurance companies and managed the main bank of the country. The Bank of Stieglitz controlled all foreign transfers and trade of Russia. The Russian Government received foreign credits through him. The Emperor himself took advises of the Baron for family budget issues.
And yet, the main lifetime project of Stieglitz was the College of Engineering Design, in which the Baron donated one million Rubles. The College prepared designers for workshops and manufactures. Its graduates worked at Imperial porcelain plants, Faberge Jewelry Firm and Art Workshops of the Imperial Theaters. In few years after opening the College, Stieglitz donated five million Rubles more to open a museum nearby, which would be intended for the best samples of applied arts since the ancient times. By the way, this was the biggest donation in Russia, made by a single person. This record by Stieglitz has not been beaten ever since.
The Baron assigned the construction of the Museum to a fashionable architect at the time, Messmacher. Stuff for collections was searched for in Russia and all of the Europe: porcelain, espaliers, furniture, ceramics and items of jeweler’s art…The Museum was opened in 1896 in the presence of the Tsar family and a large crowd of people.
But Stieglitz passed away by that time. At the biggest hall of the Museum, similar to an Italian palazzo’s patio, a memorial by Sculptor Antokolsky was mounted for Stieglitz.
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.