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The astounding rose-coloured palace on the odd-numbered side of Nevsky was built in the mid-C18th for Count Sergei Stroganoff.
The hand of Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the palace's design is seen in the stucco-work on the facade. Rastrelli was the favoured architect of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna – in fact he worked almost exclusively for her, and didn't take private commissions. But for the Stroganoffs he made an exception.
Perhaps Russia has had nobler families than the Stroganoffs – but it has had few that were richer. Their wealth arose from their Siberian land possessions. It's no accident that the Stroganoff coat of arms displays two Siberian sable. They were charged with conquering Siberia by Tsar Ivan the Terrible – but also with setting up its infrastructure. The loyal Stroganoffs built churches, schools and hospitals in every new Siberian settlement. As Siberia's altruistic rulers they left their imprint on Russian culture, creating an identifiable “Stroganoff” style in architecture and ikon-painting.
The Stroganoffs always enjoyed the favour of the Russian Tsars – beginning from the time of the Great Northern Wars with Sweden, when Peter the Great elevated their family to the nobility. The newly-ennobled Count Stroganoff presented his Tsar with a barrel of gold in thanks. When the Stroganoff Palace opened here on Nevsky prospect, the grand reception was attended by Empress Elizaveta Petrovna herself – and she later celebrated her birthday here.
During the C18th the Stroganoffs were renowned for their open-handed hospitality and open table. Any decently-dressed towns-person might pop in to join Count Alexander Sergeivich at table for lunch – and many luckless Petersburgers availed themselves of this largesse for a number of years. And their philanthropy went further – alms were distributed daily to the poor, many poor families received lifelong stipends, and promising young students had their foreign studies paid for.
The Stroganoff Palace on Nevsky became home to a huge collection of rare books, fine paintings, and other desirable items. Catherine the Second liked to joke about it, saying “Count Sergei Alexandrovich! You're doing all you can to drive yourself into bankrupcty – but you still can't manage it!”
In all seven generations of Stroganoffs lived in the palace – all philanthropists, art-collectors and connoisseurs. They built cathedrals, opened charitable foundations, and sponsored the first School of Art in Russia. Their French chefs even invented one of the classic dishes of Russian cuisine – Beef Stroganoff. The authentic version is served with fine-cut potato chips – not rice!
Today, however, visitors are able to visit at least the ceremonial quarters of the Stroganoff Palace. The repairs of recent years have restored their original beauty and grandeur. The restoration was carried out at the personal expense of Baroness Helène de Lüdinghausen – the last surviving member of the Stroganoff family, now residing in Paris.
Soon after the 1917 Revolution the Stroganoffs left Russia. Their legendary art collection was looted, and only a tiny proportion of it turned up in museums later. The Bolsheviks displayed their usual fine taste for moving into the palaces of the nobles they'd removed.
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.