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The rose-coloured house with white columns on the odd-numbered side of Nevsky Prospect was built for Nikolai Chicherin – the Chief of Police of the city at the end of the C18th. The yellow house opposite was owned by the businessman Kotomin.
The former house of Police Chief Chicherin was converted into a cinema shortly after the 1917 Revolution. The early silent films were accompanied at the piano by a young student of the St.Petersburg Music Conservatoire by the name of Dmitry Shostakovich. However, Shostakovich was soon fired – people complained his playing distracted them from the films.
Dmitry Shostakovich is famed as one of the greatest composers of the C20th – both in Russia, and worldwide. Much of his early work was written for the theatre, including the knockabout comic opera The Nose – in which a useless Govt. Official loses his own nose, and chases it round St.Petersburg, finally confronting it in Kazan Cathedral. He kept the Party Officials off his back with music for ceremonies and anniversaries, while writing mostly whatever he wanted. However, his 1934 opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was immediately banned – allegedly for failing to meet the requirements of Communism, but more probably because of the extended simulated sex-scenes. Having the anti-heroine die in a Stalinist camp in Siberia probably didn't help either. An anonymous review appeared in Pravda, calling the opera “disgusting”, and “chaos instead of melody” - but word had it that Stalin himself had written the review. Many believed Shostakovich would be banned, or even be sent to the camps himself. Yet a mysterious instruction from Stalin told the KGB “not to touch my cloud-dweller”. Like many in the soviet era, Shostakovich retreated inside himself - writing only string quartets and symphonies too intellectual for Party pen-pushers to understand. His 7th Symphony was taken up during WW2 as symbolising the heroic defence of Leningrad against the Third Reich – although history suggests Shostakovich never intended such a dedication, and he'd begun it nearly a year before the war. Nonetheless it saved his career, and he later won the Stalin Prize three times – but he never again wrote for the theatre. His “Lady”, as he always called it, is now performed all over the world, and is one of the most frequently performed operas of the C20th. A CD of the Seventh Symphony – 'The Leningrad” - makes a fine souvenir from St.Petersburg, but to find him in more lyrical mood, the Cello Sonata is some of his most serene music.
St. Petersburg is known as Russian cultural capital. It is also called “Northern Palmira” or “Northern Venice” as it was founded on islands in the delta of the Neva River and has a lot of architectural masterpieces.
Nevsky Prospect is the main avenue and one of the best-known streets in Russia. It is a real treasury of Russian culture. The street was planned by Peter the Great as beginning of the road to Novgorod and Moscow. It goes through the historical center of the city, firstly - from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station and then, after making a turn at Vosstaniya Square, to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
Life on Nevsky Prospect has always been the object of attention of writers. For example, it was described by Nikolai Gogol in his story "Nevsky Prospect". Fyodor Dostoevsky often employed the Prospect as a setting within his works, such as Crime and Punishment and The Double: A Petersburg Poem.
It is best to start your walk from famous Palace Square where you can visit one of the most prominent world museums – the Hermitage. In the center of the square you will see the Alexander Column, a very popular among tourists place. With Your Audio Guide you will listen to the history of the square and all its attractions (The New Hermitage, The Winter Palace, the Alexander Column and The General Staff Building).
During the tour you will walk through the Alexander Gardens, past the Admiralty, see a lot of historical houses – real architectural “pearls” - Wawelberg's Mansion Apartments, The Sivers-Treiberg House, The Chaplin Brothers House, Chicherin's House, etc. The chief sights of the Prospect include palaces, churches and cathedrals, shopping centers and department stores. Among palaces are the Rastrelliesque Stroganov Palace, the Anichkov Palace, The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Grand-Princess Yusopova's Residence and the Mikhailovsky, or Michael Palace.
Nevsky Prospect deserves the name "the street of religious tolerance". Religious buildings are presented by the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the picturesque Russian-style Cathedral of Our Savior on Spilt Blood – a place where terrorists exploded the Emperor Alexander II, the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, St.Catherine's Cathedral - the oldest Catholic Church in Russia, and The Armenian Church.
Nevsky Prospect is also the city’s central shopping street and the hub of the city’s entertainment and nightlife. For that You can visit the Art Nouveau Bookhouse,Elisseeff Emporium, half a dozen 18th-century churches, , an enormous 18th-century shopping mall “Gostinny Dvor”, a mid-19th-century department store “The Passage” and The Alexandrinsky Theatre, in the yard of which a monument to Catherine the Great is standing.
Your audio guide is glad to present you a wide audio tour of the Nevsky Prospeсt with map and descriptions. With this map, you will never get lost and you will always know what surprise awaits you ahead.