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The Cathedral on the Spilt Blood stands on the spot where the blood of Tsar Alexander II was spilt on 1st March 1881 – when a terrorist from the “National Will” group assassinated the Emperor. It was the eighth attempt on the life of this reform-minded Tsar – whose reign had given Russia the abolition of serfdom, and the inception of jury-based trials.
On the fateful day, Tsar Alexander II was returning by carriage from the normal Changing Of The Guard ceremony at the Mikhailovsky Manège. But as the royal carriage passed the waterfront of the canal, a deafening blast rent the air. The horses were thrown to the ground, but the Emperor was still alive. The coachman begged the Emperor not to leave the carriage, but Alexander rushed out to help the wounded. The assassin who had thrown the bomb ran up to the Tsar, and the Tsar asked:
Was it you who threw that bomb?
Yes, it was I!
At the same moment a second terrorist ran at the Tsar, and threw another bomb directly at his feet. The second bomb was substantially more powerful than the first. The fatally-wounded Tsar was taken to the Winter Palace, but he died within a few moments of arriving there.
The Church Of Our Saviour On The Spilt Blood was built directly on the spot where the assassination took place, and built in an intentionally Old-Russian style. The decoration is unique – marvelous mosaics cover the walls and ceilings, designed to sketches by the most prominent artists of the day. The central space is occupied by a pavilion made of precious jasper, and standing on the very cobblestones where the Emperor fell.
The Cathedral On The Spilt Blood was built as a monument of national grief. It was not an everyday church, and the only services conducted in it were memorial services for the assassinated Tsar.
The deliberately Old-Russian style of the Cathedral is no accident. The Secret Police were convinced that the assassination had been sponsored by foreign governments, and searched in vain to find such links. But Alexander III – son of the assassinated Tsar, who had seen his father murdered – developed a paranoid hatred of foreigners, and all the 'liberal' tendencies his father had embraced – which he came to believe had resulted in his father's murder. A political crackdown of brutal proportions followed – the Secret Police were granted unlimited powers, and foreigners were persecuted and deported. Jews – even loyal Russian-born citizens – came under suspicion and were severely persecuted. All foreign influence in culture and the arts was severely curtailed, and an official policy promoting 'grand old Russian traditions' was pursued. Thus the Cathedral On The Spilt Blood was built in imitation of medieval Russian cathedrals – even though not one such cathedral had ever stood in Russia's most European-looking city.
Following damage during WW2, the cathedral was boarded up and surrounded in wooden scaffolding for decades. People joked that the repair works would go on forever, or as long as soviet power lasted – whichever was longer. The joke turned out to have an ironic punchline – in the same month that the scaffolding finally came down – August 1991 – MikhaIl Gorbachev was kidnapped by his own military top brass, prompting the coup which ended the USSR forever.
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.