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The striking crimson-coloured palace on the odd-numbered side of the street and extensive exterior decoration is the Beloselsky-Belozersky palace.
Some people would say that calling this the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is either casual, or just plain wrong. Certainly, old Prince Beloselsky-Belozersky commissioned the palace – but he died in 1846, before even the foundations had been laid. His widow soon married Prince Vassily Kochubey and left to live with him. She only used this palace on Nevsky Prospect as a venue for holding ceremonial balls. Frequent guests at such balls was her neighbours from the Anichkov Palace, Alexander III and the Empress Maria.
At these balls Tsar Alexander III was often bored, and preferred to play at whist – but his wife was happy to dance until the early hours. The Tsar developed an unusual way of engineering their departure – he would have one of his staff gradually summon the orchestral players away. When only one musician was left, he would approach his wife on the dance-floor with open arms, and lead her off home. Meanwhile Prince Kochubey's affairs grew only worse – he had borrowed money from the State that he couldn't later repay, and was obliged to sell the Beloselsky-Belozersky palace to the Treasury to meet the debts.
Thus it happened that a new owner took possession of the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace. Tsar Alexander III presented the palace to his brother – Grand-Prince Sergei, and thus people often called it The Sergei Palace. It was the Tsar's wedding present on the days of his brother's marriage to Princess Elizabeth of Hessen-Darmstadt. Elizabeth was the sister of the future Empress Alexandra, and adored by all. However, nobody much liked Prince Sergey, not even his own family. He was moody and sulky, even to women, and he didn't care for female company. He preferred men – in all circumstances.
Subsequently Grand-Prince Sergey was named as Governor-General of Moscow, and when he moved there his palace on Nevsky was no longer needed. In 1905 the Grand-Prince was assassinated when a bomb was thrown at him while in the Kremlin. His wife collected his scattered body-parts up with her bare hands. She later became a nun, and left the Petersburg palace to her nephew, Grand-Prince Dmitry.
Grand-Prince Dmitry was a charming, attractive Guards officer, and would later be one of Coco Chanel's lovers. In WW1 he served in Eastern Prussia, and let out the palace as a war hospital for the duration. He was involved in the 1917 assassination of Grigory Rasputin. As punishment the Tsar had the Grand-Prince posted to the Persian Front – where he had the good luck to survive the coup and come home alive to Russia, to general surprise.
During the soviet era the Beloselsky-Belozersky palace was turned into offices for all kinds of soviet organisations. In the process it was stripped of most of its art collections, but the interiors remained mainly intact – you can take an excursion to see them for yourself, if you wish.
The fire happened at the Beloselsky-Belozersky palace on 28th February 2012, but fortunately all the indoor spaces were untouched.
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.