Tuesday, April 5, 2016

St Petersburg - Palace Square

Date of visit: 22nd October 2015

I must say that a visit to the St Petersburg State Hermitage Palace would not be complete without having to record a photo of you in front of its square. The huge square has serves as an open air venue for concerts by international artist, including Andrea Bocelli, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Duran Duran, Anastacia, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Shakira, Madonna, Sting. I am more than happy to share 2 panorama view that I snapped before we made our entrance inside the Winter museum. The rest of the photos were taken after our exploration inside the museum.

The palace square in St Petersburg connecting Nevsky Prospekt (the main street) with Palace Bridge leading to Vasilievsky Island. It is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire. It was the setting of many events of worldwide significance, including the 1905 Bloody Sunday and the October Revolution of 1917. Blood Sunday is the name given to the events of Sunday, 22 January 1905 in St Petersburg, when unarmed demonstrators led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The massacre on Bloody Sunday is considered to be the start of the active phase of the Revolution of 1905 and the key events which led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

Chariot for hire waiting adjacent to Alexander's Colum

The earliest and most celebrated building on the square is the baroque white and azure Winter Palace of Russian tsars (built between 1754 till 1762) which gave the square its name. Although the adjacent buildings are designed in the Neoclassical style, they perfectly match the palace in their scale, rhythm, and monumentality. The opposite, southern side of the square was designed in the shape of an arc by George von Velten in the late 18th century. George, a German immigrant who was a court architect to Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.

Due to unforeseen situations, the plans by the architect were only executed half a century later, when Alexander I of Russia envisaged the square as a vast monument to the Russian victory over Napoleon and commissioned Carlo Rossi to design the bow shaped Empire style Building of the General Staff, built from 1819 till 1829, which centers on a double triumphal arch crowned with a Roman quadriga. The arch has equally divided the building into 2 sections. It was a right decision to place a Roman quadriga as a decoration to the triumphal arch. Quadriga, a chariot drawn by horses symbolized the victory of the Roman mythological god.

A closer look of Pedestal decorations of Alexander column

The centre of the square is marked with the Alexander Column, built from 1830 and was completed in 1834. It was designed by Auguste de Montferrand. The red granite column is claimed as the tallest of its kind in the world with a height of 47.5 metres high and weighs some 500 tons. It is set so well that no attachment to the base is needed. The colum is the focal point of Palace Square as an important monument that was raised after the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon's France. The column is named for Emperor Alexander I of Russia, who reigned from 1801 till 1825.

Take notice of a Roman quadriga, a chariot drawn by 4 horses on top of the arch

The eastern side of the square is being occupied with the classical yellow and white General Staff building designed by Alessandro Brillo's. The yellow and white building has been occupied by the Guards Corps Headquarters since 1843, where its construction took years to complete when it was commence in 1837. This building encircles the Southern side of the square and through its central arch, designed as a Triumphal Arch of the Classical World, where from here you can reach the main street, Nevsky Prospect. On the eastern side a building of the former Royal Guards' General Staff tastefully closes the panorama of Palace Square, while on the west the square borders with the Admiralty and the Admiralty Garden.

We followed the city map from the palace square with great assistance from google map direction that Anne saved on her hand phone in order to find Church of the Spilled Blood. It was about time that we stopped for lunch. Among the shop on the left side building after the triumph arch is an attractive gift shop. We decided to shop there for "a must bring back souvenirs" when in St Petersburg. It was lucky that they preferred credit card, than accepting our Euro currency. It gives us some freedom and flexibility without using a cash in hand since we have another Russian city to visit, the next day. It is here that I bought a musical box for Syahirah.

Honestly, it was quite a pleasant walk through the canals and busied road in an autumn weather. We had a chance to see a daily life of the locals living in this big city.

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