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In the middle of Arts Square stands a famous statue of the poet Alexander Pushkin. Erected in 1957, this statue looks extremely well against the background of the much older buildings around the square – despite itself being much younger.
To Pushkin's back we see the frontage of one of the city's most magnificent palaces, nestling behind wrought-iron railings – the Mikhailovsky or Michael Palace. Today it houses the collections of The Russian Museum of Fine Arts.
Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn... all are well-known and widely-read abroad. Yet mysteriously the name of Alexander Pushkin is far less known – and the number of non-Russians who've actually read his work is fewer still. Yet Pushkin remains the most famous and beloved author in Russia, standing hand and shoulders above all the others. Indeed for Russians he has an almost god-like status, and this statue reminds us of where Russians usually put him – on a pedestal.
Pushkin was born in 1799 into a family of impoverished nobles. He gained an education at the Royal Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo as a scholarship pupil, and his outstanding characteristics were noticed by the authorities even as a student. So much so that they sent him to the Caucasus to keep him out of the way. He wrote a series of highly successful plays – Boris Godunov, Eugene Onegin - which made his fortune, and enabled him to marry society beauty and debutante Natalya Goncharova. However, his output as a poet couldn't keep pace with her taste for fine living – especially after she invited her equally extravagant sister to come and live with them. Pushkin wrote while Natalya partied, and soon her reputation had been compromised by her close associations with numerous playboys – chief amongst whom was the French officer D'Anthés. Pushkin challenged the Frenchman to a duel – a foolhardy move, considering D'Anthés was the regimental crackshot. Pushkin died of gunshot wounds in 1837. He is widely credited with restoring the literary glory of the Russian language, at a time when many at Court thought it more fashionable to speak and read French. His 'rags-to-riches' story appealed to the Bolsheviks, who somewhat rewrote his life story to fit their political needs. Pushkin's name became a byword for almost anything connected with the Arts in Russia – there are even Art-Museums named after him, despite the fact that he failed his art classes at the Lyceum. Russians of all walks of life often know extensive sections of his verse by heart. Foreigners continue to be mystified by Pushkin.
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.