Thursday, April 7, 2016

St Petersburg - Summer Garden

Date of visit: 22nd October 2015

Anne and I were in agreement whenever we encountered parks in our attractions list. So, this Summer Garden, another creation of St Petersburg's founder, Peter the Great has been in our original list. We roughly knew how to come at this area while we strolled the city a night before. But we entered the park from the back entrance since we came from Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood direction. We passed by a visit to the State Museum, though it seated side by side with the church as we thought we would spent a long time in this lovely garden. Suited it's name "Summer Garden", what you expect to see won't be there in Spring time. To our disappointment, we did not see any flowers blooming and the remaining statues that are available in the garden seemed to be locked. Whatever it was, the garden is still way too beautiful for an Asian tourist like us 2 to witness a tree leaves changing colors in autumn. It's priceless!

The Summer Garden is usually reached by leaving Nevsky Prospekt (means St Petersburg main street) near Gostinny Dvor and turning north up Sadovaya Street. Then after passing the Mikhailovsky (Engineer's) Castle, the Summer Garden comes into view on the right. The Garden sits on an island formed by the Fontanka, Moika and the Swan Canal and has the railings of its northern perimeter running along the left bank of the Neva. It occupies a plot of almost 12 hectares, although it originally stretched down nearly as far as Nevsky Prospekt. It is often favoured by the locals for romantic walks, and summer siestas, it is a place that also attracts many city visitors all the year round.

Porphyry Vase, a gift from Charles XIV of Sweden to the Tsar 

The Garden was created in 1704 by the direct decree of Peter the Great and it became an exclusive urban park for the elite. For over a century only the nobility and those with court privileges were allowed to use the Gardens, until Tsar Nicholas I, he has permitted the public to enter, but only by adhering to a strict dress code which continued right up to the Revolution. Honestly, it was not a difficult task at all in finding the Summer Garden as the city council has placed numerous proper signage and information board regarding all important attractions available in St Petersburg for visit, including this place. When we arrived through the entrance, there's a display board sharing all information about the summer garden to the visitor. It is indeed very helpful. 

Russian called the Summer Garden, in their native tongue as “Letniy sad” which name was shared with the adjacent Summer Palace of Peter the Great. The park was personally designed by Czar Peter in 1704, supposedly, with the assistance of the Dutch gardener and physician Nicolaas Bidloo. Starting from 1712, the planting of the Summer Garden was further elaborated by the Dutch gardener Jan Roosen, who was the chief gardener of the park till 1726. 

A pair of swans in Carp Pond

A well-known French architect Jean Baptiste Le Blond, who arrived in St. Petersburg in 1716 has added to the park the flavour of a “jardine a la fracaise” literally means garden in French manner. Its epitome is generally considered to be the “Gardens of Versailles” designed during the 17th century by the landscape architect Andre Le Notre for Louis XIV and widely copied by other European courts. The Summer Garden was largely completed in 1719. The walks were lined with a hundred allegorical marble sculptures, executed by Francesco Penso, Pietro Baratta, Marino Gropelli, Alvise Tagliapietra, Bartolomeo Modulo and other Venetian sculptors that were acquired by Sava Vladislavich. In the late 20th century, 90 surviving statues were moved indoors, while modern replicas took their place in the park. Even that was covered and locked to avoid vandalism (I guessed) at the time of our visit.

A delicate iron-cast railing, separating the park from the public walk of the Palace Embankment, was installed between 1771 and 1784 to a design by Georg von Veldten. The grille is suspended between 36 granite columns crowned with urns and vases. The grille considered to be a pinnacle of art-casting and one of the symbols of St Petersburg. In the 1820s, a grotto pavilion, attributed to Andreas Schl├╝ter and Georg Johann Mattarnovy, was rebuilt into a coffee house. On the bank of the Carp Pond, a magnificent porphyry vase, a gift of Charles XIV of Sweden to the tsar, was installed in 1839. 

Kindly take note that the park was chosen by Alexander Pushkin as a setting for childhood walks of the fictional character Eugene Onegin. Many of the sculptures now adorning the Summer Garden date back to the early 18th century. In the 19th century, the intended arrangement of the decorative sculptures in the Summer Garden was forgotten, quite a few of the sculptures were no longer extant, and those remaining were moved from place to place, thus destroying the original design. In late 20th century, all sculptures were rearranged and today they stand in accordance with the aesthetic ideas characteristic of the beginning of the 18th century.

To end this entry, I wish to conclude that no matter where you are happen to be, the park has brought so much contentment to not only people's heart but to the floras and the faunas. Parks are considered a place where people search for a place to rest, enjoying a free fresh air, children are able to wander, run and play, a place for deep thinking searching for inspiration etc etc. It is a permanent home to some species of birds and faunas. People meet here for a happy reasons and I found so much peace and solace coming to kind of place with Anne, a friend that I treasured much in this world. 

Abandon water fountain near the cafe

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