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The Rumyantsev Garden is a small green area facing the embankment.
Before the middle of the C19th in the place of the Rumyantsev Garden there was a parade square for the Cadet Corps quartered in the Menshikov Palace located nearby. In 1820, the Rumyantsev obelisk erected in honour of victories won by Count Rumyantsev. It was intended to raise morale of marching cadets by reminding them of prominent achievements of Field-Marshal-General Pyotr Rumyantsev in the war against Turkey, as he attended this Cadet Corps. In fact, the famous commander, being a rakish young man, stayed in it only for four months and was expelled for laches and disruptive behavior.
However, the square was used not only for square bashing. The first ascent into the Russian sky was made by the French balloonist Jacques Garnerin in his hot air balloon in the evening of June 20, 1803. Crowds of people gathered on the square waiting for the event few ever see. Even Alexander I with his wife was present there. The first flight was successful and later the pushful French man invited rich passengers to ascend with him in the balloon, charging two thousand rubles for the “ticket to the sky”. As a comparison, at that time it was the yearly salary of the court historiographer Nikolay Karamzin.
It was the gold producer from Siberia Stepan Solovyov, who gave twenty five thousand rubles, for turning of the dusty square into the elegant shadowy garden. Along its perimeter the ornamental cast-iron fence surrounded the garden having two fountains, several marble vases and statues, and Musical Pavilion inside. The Pavilion was a podium on high granite basement. There were appeals of the thankful public to name the garden in honour of the generous investor. However, city authorities decided in their own way and since that time the garden has the name of the Field-Marshal Pyotr Rumyatsev.
Before the Revolution, it was a meeting place of Saint-Petersburg’s clerisy. On Saturdays and Sundays brass band played, and poets, actors and musicians gave performances here.
During the Soviet period, the fountains went out of order, the Pavilion worn out and served as students’ jerry and then fire destroyed it. An unexpected use of the garden fence was during the severe flood of 1953; people clang to it, waiting for evacuation by military motor boats.
In 1999, bronze busts of Vasily Surikov and Ilya Repin from the reserve stock of the Museum of City Sculpture were put up in the Rumyantsev Garden on the place of the lost marble vases. Before celebration of 300th anniversary of St.Petersburg, the garden grew young again. Its fountains were repaired, Rumyantsev’s obelisk was cleaned and polished, the Musical Pavilion was restored and statues and marble vases returned to the garden.
Vasilievsky Island is a historical district in St. Petersburg, located in the delta of the Neva River. It is bordered by the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva Rivers in the south and northeast, and by the Gulf of Finland in the west. Two of the most famous St. Petersburg bridges, Palace Bridge and Blagoveshchensky Bridge, connect it with the mainland to the south. Exchange Bridge and Tuchkov Bridge across the Malaya Neva connect it with Petrogradsky Island.
In 1715-25 Peter the Great planned this island to become a city center but those plans were not destined to be fulfilled. There are lots of legends connected with Vasilievsky Island and its buildings. For example, the name of the island Vasilievsky people usually associate with a certain man called Vassily or Basil. The legend says that was the name of one Peter’s foremost gunner officers and military engineers, Vassily Korchmin, who had his artillery battery to ward off the Swedish navy at the spit of the island and got the tsar's letters addressed "To Vassily in the Island".
During the tour you will hear some legends of the island and see all its landmarks. It is better to start the tour from the easternmost tip of the island, called Strelka (or the Spit, literally Arrow) which features a number of museums, including the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange as well as two Rostral columns. The Spit is a place popular for wedding processions and tourists. Nice postcard views on the city are open from here.
The edifices lining the Universitetskaya Embankment along the Bolshaya Neva include the Kunstkamera, The Palace of Peter II, the Twelve Colleges Building, the Menshikov Palace, the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and St. Andrew's Cathedral – all dating from the 18th century.
Museums, State University and the Imperial Academy of Sciences with library tell us the island has been for the recent centuries home to academic life. There is even the House of Academicians.
The island is a very romantic place with many cafes and restaurants, and panoramic views from the embankments. Just download the application “Your Audio Guide” (free) and the excursion. And walk as much as you want. Enjoy the unforgettable views of the northern capital.