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Three generations later, Tsar Nicholas II bought the Michael Palace from Prince Michael's heirs. At the suggestion of the Minister of Finance, he planned to turn the Palace into Russia's first public Museum of Russian Art. And so it remains today, the largest collection of Russian Art in the world, and all on public view. In its collections visitors will find Russian ikons, paintings, sculptures and drawings.
It's hard to turn one's head away from the understated grandeur of the Mikhailovsky Palace. The splendour of Petersburg's palaces becomes understandable when we bear in mind that they were built by remarkable men of genius. The Mikhailovsky Palace was built for Grand Duke Michail, son of Emperor Pavel I. It was built by the Italian architect Carlo Rossi, for a budget of seven-and-a-half million gold roubles – a staggering sum of money for its time.
From the day of his son Michael's birth, Emperor Paul I ordered several hundred thousand roubles per year to be set aside for the prince's inheritance. Michael was Paul's fourth child, and had little chance of inheriting the throne – his father wanted him to live in royal style nonetheless. In fact Paul I was soon to be murdered by conspirators, while Michael was just three. The young prince received this magnificent residence in the centre of the city from his elder brother, Alexander I.
The Russian Museum is a truly unmissable exhibition of the finest art produced in Russia – from the earliest times to the present day. It also presents temporary exhibitions on different themes and topics. The central collection of the Museum – mainly the original collection which was displayed when in opened in 1895 – is in the Michael Palace building. Here you can see a priceless collection of Russia's earliest medieval ikons, and also the state-rooms of the palace itself. But the centrepiece of the collection are the C19th Russian masters – Briullov, Aivazovsky and Repin, who are all generously represented. The collection's modern section is housed in the adjacent Benois Wing, and has some of the most famous C20th Russian works – Kandinsky, Chagall, and Malevich.
A peculiarity of the Russian Museum is that – unlike the rest of St.Petersburg's galleries and museums – it's open on Mondays, giving you a chance to see it while the other museums are closed.
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.