Private & Small groups guided tour
Description from the guide:
By the first quarter of 19th century St. Petersburg became a city of truly imperial proportions especially within the co complex of buildings, which developed around Winter palace and Admiralty. We’ll start our excursion by going through the set of three arches leading to Palace Square from Nevskyi, and the view from underneath of those Triumphal arches which were supposed to commemorate victory over Napoleon proves how successfully Rossi could create huge, but strictly controlled spatial perspectives the length of which comprises more than 1300 feet.
Palace square the beautiful example of high Empire classical style ensemble, created by Carlo Rossi, an architect who managed to tie up the whole area into a single whole, when you can not add or subtract anything to or from it without ruining the singularity of purpose, which was to glorify the seat of Russian autocracy- Winter Palace with all the surrounding ministries, such as military- General Staff and Horse-guards buildings, foreign affairs and ministry of finance-which are now part of Hermitage museum complex.
It is hardly surprising that present Admiralty building, which occupies the foot print of former fortified wharf, the word for which came from Dutch, along with other nautical terms, such as matros- ship’s hand, skipper-helmsman, gavan-harbour, farvater-fairway and even flot-fleet was first mentioned in Peter’s personal diary on November 5, 1704, shortly after city’s foundation. Though rebuilt several times in 18th and 19th centuries, the original design was sketched by Peter himself, who had seen great number of wharves in Netherlands and understood them well. Built in Palladian grandiose Empire style and having the length of the facade extended for 400 meters by Adrian Zacharov, European trained architect, who managed it to look not so monotonous in spite of its length, using perfect proportions of protruding parts and central tower with soaring golden spire tipped with the model of the first ship, built in Russia, which also serves as weathervane, designed by Dutchman Harman de Boles, is still one of the most recognizable symbols of St.Petersburg.
The Senate and Synod buildings, connected by the arch, which symbolizes the unity of religious and secular powers were the last among architect Rossi projects constructed in official high classical style, which became his trademark and without which St. Petersburg would loose its distinct look. The Senate and Synod were governmental bodies introduced by Peter the Great. Synod replaced Patriarchate as the supreme governing body of the Orthodox Church, a kind of ministry, presided over by a secular Procurator, reporting to the Tzar directly thus putting Church under the State control, a new system, which replaced Patriarchy and abolished equality of power of Tzar and Patriarch, which existed in Moscow.
You will not only see all major official buildings, such as Hermitage and Winter palace at the Palace square, Admiralty and St. Isaac cathedral at St. Isaac square, Senate and Synod building at Senate square, but also will be able to hear the stories of their construction, including their earlier previous versions. By "peeling off" different layers of each historical building you see how they were gradually constructed to play their unique part in perfect harmony of a complete ensemble. We stop at each landmark monument, such as huge 700 tons solid piece of granite Alexandr’s column in the middle of Palace square, dedicated to victory over Napoleon, world famous "bronze horseman" equestrian sculpture of Peter the Great on Senate square and speak of "Peter's creation" across the river Neva, which he overlooks so proudly, from monolith pedestal, weighing 1500 tons and monument to Nicolas I sitting on a horse, standing on its two hind legs, with his wife and three daughters surrounding pedestal and representing different virtues. We look at bar reliefs on monuments and buildings depicting different events from lives of those who ruled Russia and speak of values and ideas, that they tried to convey, such as orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality. After we find out who built those spectacular ensembles, along with for whom it was built and under what circumstances, and only then you’d be able not only look at them, but really see them. And if that’s not enough we take a boat ride along the channels to see it all from the vantage point of water level or climb up to the colonnade of the third biggest cathedral in Europe, St. Isaac's, to have a bird’s eye view.