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Among shadowy alleys of the Summer Garden, there are white marble statues of the ancient heroes and Olympic gods. Most of them were brought here from Italy by order of Peter the Great.
The Tsar’s purchasing agents Savva Raguzinsky and Yuri Kologrivov purchased finished statues or ordered new ones, as the whole series unified around a single idea. So, Giovanni Bonazzi and his son Francesco made for the Summer Garden a series called “Day Circulation” of four statues: “Aurora”, “Noonday”, “Sunset” and “Night”. Pietro Baratto dedicated “Peace and Prosperity” statuary to the victory of Russia in the Northern War. Also, he sculpted a series of allegoric figures like “Justice”, “Mercy” and “Glory”. The aesthetics of the 18th century required a strict alternation of statues and busts in the alleys. Therefore, the busts of Achilles, Trajan, Julius Caesar and Alexander Macedonian appeared in the Summer Garden.
Created under the Italian sun, the marble gods and goddess inhabiting the alleys of the Summer Garden, poorly endure severe Petersburg climate. Therefore, the most of the historic statues were moved from the Garden to the Museum, and instead of them, they installed replicas. The first statue to leave the Garden was the goddess Venus, an ancient statue found in the outskirts of Rome. Yuri Kologrivov purchased it from the Roman Pope Clement IX, allegedly either paying for it 3 thousand skudi or trading it for hallows of Saint Brigitta. Passing by all restrictions and obstacles, it was transported to Russia in a special rocking carriage and mounted in the Summer Garden. Peter valued Venus so much that he put an armed guard to it.
After the Tsar’s death, Venus was taken to Tsarskoe Selo, then, to the Taurida Palace. From there, it was taken to the Hermitage to the Ancient World’s Collection. However, there is a sculpture standing in the Summer Garden that is not afraid of bad weather. That is a memorial to the Fable Writer Ivan Krylov sculpted by Peter Klodt. The bronze Krylov is sitting in a chair with open book in his hands, and there are characters of his fairy tales around him: Elephant, Moska, Raven with a piece of cheese in his nib, Naughty Monkey, Donkey, Goat and Clumsy Bear.
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.