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The enormous length of Gostinny Dvor – the Merchant's Hall – occupies the odd-numbered side of the street – a huge two-storeyed shopping arcade that is St.Petersburg's largest shop.
Gostinny Dvor is one of the very few civic buildings in St.Petersburg which never changed its name, or its use. It was built as trading halls in 1785 during the reign of Catherine II – and the trading goes on today as it has done for some two hundred years. The yellow buildings of Gostinny Dvor occupy an entire City quarter, and are in the early classical style. The project turned out so successfully that other Merchant Halls were built elsewhere, on the same design – not only in St.Petersburg, but throughout Russia also.
Almost every successful Petersburg merchant had shop premises at Gostinny Dvor, but still there wasn't sufficient space for everyone. Merchants soon began trading all over the place, in every adjacent street. Note how the building is a little set-back behind the general line of buildings along Nevsky prospect? It was done especially, so that delivery carts and the carriages of buyers wouldn't block the traffic along the main street.
When the Revolution broke out in 1917, the Merchant's Yard was deserted – the Bolsheviks had nationalised all the goods. However, quite a few of the merchants remained sure that this Bolshevism thing was only a passing fad and things would be back to normal soon. They hoarded secret supplies of goods & valuables in hideaways inside their shops – but only very few ever managed to get access to them.
In 1965 the Gostinny Dvor building underwent capital reconstruction - the floors were stripped out and replaced. But builders noticed that one of the bricks they removed seemed oddly heavy, so they sent it off for analysis. The results astonished everyone – it turned out the 'brick' was solid gold. As work went on, quite a few more similar gold bricks were discovered – adding up to a total weight of 128 kilograms of gold bricks altogether.
The secret behind the hidden gold bricks was easily solved. Before the 1917 Revolution the section of the building where the bricks were found had been the jewellery shop of a businessman named Morozov. He'd fled the USSR in 1918. Although he returned three years later, he had never been able to gain access to his hidden treasure.
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.