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A lateral flank of the Anichkov Palace lies along the odd-numbered side of Nevsky prospect here. Slightly to the East of it we find an elegant two-storey building with white columns on Nevsky. They were the Market Trading Rows, put up in the early C19th. Later they were converted into offices, from which the Tsar's private properties in the city were administrated. Unfortunately this building completely blocks our view of the grand facade of the Anichkov Palace. Thus this former Royal residence modestly veils its beauty from casual passers-by.
In years gone by there was a Regimental Camp stationed here, under the command of General Anichkov. Thus the palace here – and the adjacent bridge over the Fontanka River – acquire their name. The Palace was built by Italian architect Rastrelli to a commission from Empress Elizaveta Petrovna. This favourite daughter of Tsar Peter the Great gave the palace to her admirer, Count Alexei Razumovsky. In fact the forty-something Empress had simultaneously found herself a new 22-year-old lover, so the gift of the Anichkov Palace to Razumovsky was something of a kiss-off.
Ownership of the Anichkov Palace frequently changed hands. Empress Catherine II followed the example of her predecessor and gave the palace as a gift to her lover Prince Potyomkin – to whom she was, very probably, secretly married, although with a prohibition on his benefiting by title or inheritance from the marriage. However, Potyomkin already had his own palace, and didn't need a second one – so he sold it to the business tycoon Shemyakin. However, you don't thwart an Empress so easily. Catherine bought it back from Shemyakin and gave it back to Potyomkin.
In 1809 the palace was made home by Ekaterina Pavlovna, beloved sister of Tsar Alexander I. In fact Napoleon had made an official marriage proposal to her the year before – that was swiftly blocked by her brother the Tsar. Napoleon was mortally offended, and political relations between France and Russia took a nosedive. Ekaterina subsequently married the King of Wurtemburg – then an independent country – and gifted the palace to her brother, the future Emperor Nicholas I.
Nicholas I grew to love the Anichkov Palace greatly, and preferred it to the Winter Palace even after he acceded to the throne. It was here that the Emperor gave his celebrated balls that the poet Pushkin so dearly hated – and Pushkin's party-going wife so adored.
A later Tsar, Alexander III and his consort the Empress Maria also preferred the comfort of the Anichkov Palace to any of their others. It was here at the Anichkov Palace that their son grew up – the future Tsar Nicholas II. After Alexander's death, his widow Maria continued to live here at Anichkov – preserving the palace as a shrine to her beloved husband's memory until the events of 1917 intervened.
After the 1917 Revolution the palace was taken into State hands, and new owners arrived – children. The Palace was made the largest Palace Of Youth in the USSR. The palace was extensively rebuilt to suit its new role. However, one suite of main staterooms has survived to the present day. It's the part of the palace where the private art collections of Alexander III were previously displayed.
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.