Living in Saint-Petersburg I can't help telling you about its unique architecture because the city is considered to be a melting pot of different architectural styles and masterpieces of famous architects from all over the world.
In the work I set some goals:
find information about the main architects of the city and their contribution to modern look of the city;
make a list of top architectural masterpieces of Saint-Petersburg;
answer the question if it is enough to live in Saint-Petersburg to see the world.
Although the Italian community in St. Petersburg has never been large, no other nationality has had such a profound influence on the city's cultural and artistic heritage.
The first architect of Saint-Petersburg was Italian master Domenico Trezzini. Peter the First chose him as the best variant for the city. The first building of Saint-Petersburg is the Peter-and-Paul Fortress. It was created by Domenico Trezzini. When Peter the Great reclaimed the lands along the Neva River, he decided to build a fort to protect the area from possible attack of the Swedish army and navy. The fortress was founded on a small Hare island in the Neva delta. The fortress was his most important contribution to St. Petersburg and the world of architecture because it became an enduring symbol of the Tsar’s great city. To meet the massive demand for new housing, Trezzini created houses for different classes of citizens, and they were rapidly constructed to line the streets of the new city. He also founded a school for architects. Everything he built is the works that confirm him as one of the leading architects of his age. According to the tastes of Peter the Great, he created a new style of architecture called Petrine Baroque which was absolutely different from all the buildings which had been created in Russia before. He made a huge contribution to the urban planning of St. Petersburg.
Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Quarenghi, Antonio Rinaldi and Carlo Rossi are the other Italian architects who dedicated their life to Saint-Petersburg. Due to their efforts almost half of the great buildings of central St. Petersburg were designed. Over a period of 50 years Bartolomeo Rastrelli created a great number of palaces for Russia’s rulers and members of the imperial court such as the Peterhof Palace, the Winter Palace, the Catherine Palace, the Vorontsov Palace.
Giacomo Quarenghi was the first who started to build buildings in Russia in the Palladian style. Quarenghi designed simple but imposing Neoclassical buildings. He projected the Smolny Institute, the Hermitage Theatre, and a number of academic structures.
Antonio Rinaldi designed and worked in the popular traditions of neoclassicism and baroque. He projected and built palaces, triumphal gates, arches, churches, theaters and many different buildings, becoming a dominant architectural presence in the center of the city. Rinaldi is responsible for the Palace of Peter III, the Chinese Palace of Catherine the Great, the Great Gatchina Palace, the Marble Palace and other buildings.
Carlo Rossi built mostly in empire style. He is famous for the Mikhailovsky Palace and adjacent buildings, the Alexandrinsky Theate, the Yelagin Palace, the Russian National Library.
Of course, not only these Italian architects worked in Saint-Petersburg but they are the ones who had the biggest influence on modern look of the city. Nowadays, around the fountain in the centre of Manezhnaya Ploshchad you can admire four bronze busts of four the greatest architects ever to work in St. Petersburg. They are dedicated to Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Giacomo Quarenghi, Antonio Rinaldi and Carlo Rossi.
Even though Saint-Petersburg is situated on the West it is not hard to find elements of the East there. So, we can see architectural monuments made by Chinese masters. The first element of China which appeared in Saint-Petersburg is the Guardian Lions – Shi-Tsza. The lion has a ball that is believed to have a magic power and a lioness with a lion cub. The statues were brought from Jilin and presented to the Northern capital by Grodekov N. I. Now they are situated on Petrovskaya Embankment. In the centre of Saint-Petersburg we can find another interesting place. It is a Chinese garden of friendship. It was presented as a symbol of friendship by Shanghai, a sister city of St. Petersburg. More than 20 workers from Shanghai's garden companies worked on the project of 2,000 square meters. All the materials were imported from China, even stones. In front of the entrance to the garden we can find Chinese guardian lions. The garden includes the wall of nine dragons that frightens away bad spirits. Also, there is a pagoda of friendship with a small fountain. The garden is decorated with pines, willows, apple-trees and cherry blossom. Located close to the city centre, the garden is a perfect example of the harmony of traditional Chinese dragon walls, pavilions and arched bridges. It has added a bright gem of Eastern charm to a little bit European Saint-Petersburg.
The mixture of cultures, styles, views of the architects of France and Russia favored the appearance of unique buildings. The development of Saint-Petersburg was engaged by the French architect Jean Baptiste Leblond who was invited by Peter the First. Leblond was appointed as the main architect of the Northern capital. One of the biggest projects for Le Blond, and perhaps his most famous unrealized idea was the proposed reconstruction of St. Petersburg. He had an idea to make Vasilievsky Island a center of St. Petersburg, moving the political and market centers of the city to the island. Le Blond thought the topography of the island would be ideal for his project.
In 1759, Shuvalov invited the architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de La Mothe who took part in creation of the Gostiny Dvor, the building of the Small Hermitage and further transformation of city’s architecture.
Another famous French architect was Auguste de Montferrand. He is world-known as the architect who created magnificent St. Isaac's Cathedral. He devoted over half of his life for this masterpiece and he is nonetheless considered one of the greatest architects in the city's history. Auguste de Montferrand. His biggest work was the rebuilding of St. Isaac's Cathedral. Alexander I liked his project more than the projects of the other architects. While working on St. Isaac's Cathedral Montferrand designed the monument to the late Alexander I as a column, crowned with a cross; later, he changed the cross into an angel.
The French architect Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon is best known for the Old Stock Exchange on Vasilyevsky Island, one of the most famous and influential works of architecture in St. Petersburg. His first major commission in the city was the reconstruction of the Bolshoy Kamenny Theatre.
That’s just a little part of French’s greatest contribution to the city of Saint-Petersburg.
So, you see that our city is considered to be a melting pot of different architectural styles and masterpieces of famous architects from all over the world.
In conclusion, I think that it is enough to live in Saint-Petersburg to see the world. You shoudn't go to Beijing to see a Chinese garden. You needn’t visit France to admire the Pont Alexandre III. It has much in common with Trinity Bridge because both bridges were built by the same French company. If you want to appreciate the beauty of Saint Peter's Basilica in Italy you can have a look at Kazan Cathedral in Saint-Petersburg. They really have much in common. You can admire St. Paul’s Cathedral without going to England because it looks like Saint Isaac's Cathedral.
In conclusion, Saint-Petersburg can be called a mosaic of world’s culture, it is full of architectural masterpieces from all over the world. So a lot of people come here to see the architecture of different countries in one city.
1. Bank Gorodov
2. City Walls
3. Encyclopedia Britannica
4. Giacomo Antonio Domenico Quarenghi http://walkspb.ru/lich/tresini_da.html
5. Presidential Library http://www.prlib.ru/History/Pages/Item.aspx?itemid=770
6. Russian Culture
7. SPB HI
8. Wikipedia. Free Encyclopedia http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ринальди,_Антонио