"Palace Square" Parks and Squares Tip by furioso
Parks and Squares, Saint Petersburg: 16 reviews and 16 photos
Favorite thing: For 200 years the vast Russian empire was ruled from this half-kilometre block at St Petersburg's heart. This is one of Europe's great squares, lined with colourful yet elegant edifices and dotted with monuments commemorating Russia's victory over Napoleon. It witnessed Bloody Sunday in 1905, the Bolshevik's grab for power in 1917, and all-night vigils in the name of democracy during the 1991 coup.
The square is dominated by the green, white and gold rococo fantasy of the Winter Palace, residence of tsars from 1762 to 1917 and the largest part of the famous State Hermitage Museum. In the grey old days visitors came to the city for the museum alone and even today it could probably eat up a week of your precious time. The complex of buildings is the size of a small town - a map and compass are absolute essentials. Four linked riverside buildings - the Winter Palace, the Little and Large Hermitage buildings and the Hermitage Theatre - hold a vast collection of Western European art, with enough chandeliers, over-the-top interior encrustations and tsarist jewels and treasures to have you seeing stars for days. The collection largely dates from the culturally heightened days of Catherine the Great, and many works were gained when Napoleon's power began to wane.
Adjacent to the Winter Palace is the gilded spire of the Admiralty - a good landmark to use when you're out and about. This Empire-style classical building houses a naval college and is replete with trumpeting angels, oversized statues and fountains. In late 2000 funeral services were held here for past graduates of the college who died in the tragically sunk Kursk submarine.
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