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Now, you are on the Senate Square. In its center, you can see the Peter Memorial. The Tsar has powerfully stretched his hand to Neva. His head is crowned with laurel wreath. Obedient to each move of the rider, the horse is trampling a twirling snake. The base reads in Russian and Latin: “Catherine the Second to Peter the First”.
And, in forty years, on December 14, 1825 on the Senate Square there was an event, which passed into history of Russia as the Decembrist Revolt. At 7 a.m. in the morning, a few Army regiments, headed by Officers, members of a secret society, were lined in formation around the Peter Memorial. An oath to new Emperor Nicholas the First was appointed on this day. The conspirators wanted to block operation of the government bodies and force the Senate to sign documents on changing the Russia’s political system. Some of the military men headed by the Captain Alexander Yakubovich, should have taken the Winter Palace over and arrested the Tsar family.
However, everything went not according to the plan. It turned out that the Senate had already oathed to the Emperor. The leader of the revolt, the Prince Sergei Trubetskoi, being in doubts, did not show up at the Square. As to Yakubovich, he refused to command the troops. Hour by hour passed, but nothing happened. The soldiers got numb with cold in their greatcoats and were tired of a forced idleness. The Governor-General of Petersburg, the Prince Miloradovich came out to the rebel regiments to talk them into going home. The hero of the war with Napoleon, he was very popular in the troops, could talk to soldiers, but the conspirators wanted to remove him from the Square by any means. The Head of the staff of the rebels, the Prince Eugene Obolensky, was asking Miloradovich to leave. But when he saw the latter was not going to do it, he turned the General’s horse using his bayonet. At the next moment, Peter Kakhovsky had wounded Miloradovich to death by firing from his gun. This shot had made the course of event irreversible.
Tsar Nicholas, being afraid that the unrest would spread the whole city, ordered to use artillery against the rebels. Right after the first shot, the soldiers were scattered in all directions. The killed and wounded remained at the Square. Some of the soldiers started retreating on the Neva ice towards Vassilevsky Ireland. They were being shot too. The ice was cracking and the many were drowning in unfrozen patches of the river.
By night, the revolt was suppressed. Its organizers begun to be arrested. On July 13, 1826, five of them were executed on a crownwork of the Petropavlovskaya Fortress. All the rest, about hundred people, were deprived of their nobility and sent to labor works in Siberia.
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.