Imperial Petersburg

Many people think St. Petersburg was named after its creator, emperor Peter I, who founded a new capital in the north-west of the country. However, St. Petersburg bears its name in honour of the emperor’s saint patron – apostle Peter. Anyway, Peter the Great remains an illustrious person who turned the history of Russia to a totally new direction.

Follow the steps of this “big figure” (at any sense - you know, the emperor’s height was 2.03 metres) and try to feel the scope and atmosphere of the Imperial Petersburg.

The Peter and Paul Fortress in the Hare Island is the oldest part of St. Petersburg. This is where the city foundation began. You can feast your eyes on the monument of Peter the Great’s baroque – the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It remained the highest building in Petersburg for a long time, until 2012. The Cathedral was also used as the Chapel of imperial family members, and Peter I was buried there - as well as most other members of the Romanovs dynasty. Apart from the Cathedral, you can visit the Prison of Trubetskoy bastion, where the first prisoner is considered to be prince Alexey, Peter’s son, who was accused of a plot against the emperor. After that we’d recommend you to take a walk upon the fortress wall for a magnificent overview of the Neva river and the Palace Embankment. The Hare Island is connected with Petrogradskaya side - a beautiful historical district of the city - by the Ioannovsky bridge.

After leaving the Peter and Paul Fortress, turn your steps to the Petrovskaya embankment. You will see the emperor’s first residence located opposite the back side of the Fortress, where he lived until the construction of Summer and Winter Palaces. It was built by Sweden carpenters in just about 3 days. The house is decorated with a wooden mortar and set bombs with flaming balls as a homage to Peter's military title of a bombardier. Later the wooden frame was enclosed with a protective stone box. The inside exposition shows private things of the emperor, even including a pear armchair, which was made by the emperor himself, as legend has it. In the XIXth century the miniature garden with Peter’s bust was laid out around the Cabin.

The closest emperor’s associate lived in the Vasilievsky island in the first stone building of the city – the Menshikov Palace. Peter met Alexander Menshikov in childhood, when young Menshikov was selling pies with hare and it was a long way for him to become mighty and rich. Peter called it "the Embassy House" - this long construction of a palace with bath houses, bakery and forge - and arranged there various balls and celebrations. The son of Peter I, prince Alexey, was married there, and later, the next empress Anna Ioannovna celebrated her wedding there, too. The palace was constantly being rebuilt until Menshikov’s exile to Berezovo. Three floors of the building were overloaded with paintings, sculptures and expensive cloth. Now we can see the reconstructed interiors, evoking Peter’s times. Blue Dutch tiles traditionally engage a particular attention of visitors.

We can find traces of Peter the Great’s activity not only in the city itself, but in the suburbs, too. Glorious Peterhof remains his brainchild, in spite of its multiple later reconstructions and rebuildings. Under the impression of Versailles, Peter decided to create his own suburban palace with fountains. After his failed engineering attempt to build a park complex with fountains in Strelna, he moves the project to the place of today’s Peterhof, as it offered an extraordinarily suitable landscape for a fountain complex. During construction of the palace a lot of Peter’s own drafts were used. Design of the Lower Park is based on a strict symmetry. Sampson, Chess Cascade, Pyramid, Neptune - these are only a few names of Peterhof astonishing fountains.