«Saint Petersburg’s the place to be…»

06 April 2021

Even if you have been to this city 1000 times, there will always be 1001st reason to come here again. It should have been this idea that guided the creators of the "New Tourist Geography of St. Petersburg" project, designed to offer guests new routes and "saturate" them with fresh impressions. Some of these routes and attractions can be found in the MY WAY review.

Shuvalov Palace

Let's start with the names that are now especially popular. 2020, the year of the 100th anniversary of the death of the famous Russian jeweler, the Imperial Court supplier, Carl Faberge was marked by several high-profile exhibitions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. There is however no doubt, that the main role in the celebration had to be assigned to the private Faberge Museum, which appeared on the cultural map of Russia in 2013 thanks to the “Svyaz Vremen” Foundation and personally to Viktor Vekselberg, who had bought the Easter egg collection, previously owned by Malcolm Forbes.

It is obvious that this famous collection is the core of the exposition - indeed, one can spend more than an hour near these masterpieces, exhibited in the Blue Living Room, marveling not only at the rare art of decoration, but also at the master's amazing imagination.

Here is the very first, "simplest" "Hen" egg: inside the "shell", covered with opaque white enamel, there is a "yolk" of matte gold and a golden chicken hidden in it. Originally there was also a miniature crown-pendant inside the chicken, but, unfortunately, time did not save it. And here is the "Coronation" egg with a copy of the coronation carriage of Catherine II enclosed inside.

The Faberge Museum in Saint Petersburg is not only the largest collection of Faberge products, but also the luxurious interiors of the Shuvalov Palace

Many discoveries await you in other halls of the museum, where amazing works of masters who worked both independently and under the Faberge brand are presented: Ovchinnikov, Khlebnikov, Kuzmichev, Rückert, etc. Silver vases, cups, table sets, caskets with enamel, photo frames and other precious "haberdashery" - all this is worthy of your visit and admiration. Not to mention the interiors of the Naryshkin-Shuvalov palace itself, carefully recreated at the expense of the foundation.

Fountain House

The windows of the Blue Living Room look out on the Fontanka River and let you see the elegant, black and golden, lattice of the Fountain House; this name has been referred to the homestead of the Sheremetiev Сounts since the late 1700s. The palace currently houses an affiliate of the Saint Petersburg State Museum of Theatrical and Musical Art: the Music Museum. It is quite logical since Russian serf theatre was one of the main passions of the Sheremetiev family. By the way, this house was the last shelter for the legendary serf actress Proskovia Kovalyova-Zhemchugova, who became Count Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetiev’s legal wife. Recently renovated halls of the second floor are dedicated to the history of the noble family and full of memorial relics. And halls of the first floor are a kingdom of musical rarities. The largest collection in Russia, founded more than 100 years ago by Baron Stackelberg, the chief of the Court Orchestra, is located here. The first exhibits of the collection were musical instruments that belonged to members of the imperial family. For example, a unique horn orchestra that consists of several horns, each of them produces a sound at a certain pitch. Or a collection of loud gongs, a diplomatic gift from China. The apotheosis of the exposition is the hall where a whole symphonic orchestra is represented (from the mid 1700s to the mid 1900s) and the multimedia program gives the opportunity to hear the sound of each instrument in this enormous showcase.

The exhibition called “In the Circle with Dyagilev. Crossing of the Fates”, which was prepared for the “Dyagilev P.S.” festival, will be held in the museum till February 12 and it is one more reason to visit Saint Petersburg. Portraits and photos of Sergei Dyagilev and his characters – Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokin, Gabrielle Chanel, Vaslav Nizhinsky and many others. Paintings by Repin, Bakst, Benoit, Cocteau, Picasso, de Chirico from both Russian and foreign museums are exhibited there.

“Fly” named after Stiegliez

Since we are already in this part of the Fontanka area, it makes sense to continue the museum theme in Solyanoy Gorodok, where the Saint Petersburg State Academy of Arts and Industry (in Soviet times known as the Mukhina High School of Industrial Art or simply “Mukha”, which means “fly” in the Russian language) is located, it was originally named after its sponsor, Baron von Stiegliez, who was an investor and industrialist, and regained its initial name in 2010. A separate museum building was constructed near the Academy and its interiors were decorated in almost all historical styles. After visiting a room decorated as an ancient Russian tower, you can immediately go to a room styled as a papal gallery of the Renaissance times. And after the enormous two-tiered exhibition hall under a glass roof with a grand staircase, where graduates of the Academy take photos of themselves under the white marble sculpture of Stiegliez, you go to the oven hall, which is “packed to capacity” with fabulous tile masterpieces. Porcelain and furniture, textile and metal, this place used to house an impressive collection of the West European, Eastern and Russian decorative and applied art of the 17-18th centuries. Stiegliez believed that his design students should learn from best examples of art and so it is to this day and age. The Baron, who invested 11.5 million rubles (which was a gigantic amount of money for that century) in the academy, museum and its collections, wrote these words: “My father and I have earned all our fortune in Russia; if it fails, I am ready to fail myself and lose my entire fortune”. You can visit this wonderful museum by appointment on the official website.

Hermitage Museum in Staraya Derevnya

You have probably visited the Hermitage. This museum, one of the largest in the world, is truly inexhaustible, and you can visit it endlessly, over and over again choosing new halls and expositions. But special pleasure will be given to "gourmets" by an excursion to the open storage facility, which is located in Staraya Derevnya - a historical area on the right bank of the Bolshaya Nevka, where a large-scale innovative restoration and storage centre is being built according to the latest word of conservation science. The storage facility allows one to see exhibits that have never been exhibited before, such as, a marquee gifted to Catherine II by the Turkish Sultan Selim III after the signing of the Treaty of Jassy. For more than 200 years it has been lying abandoned, and now, fixed on a special structure, you can see it in all its splendour. From the inside, its cashmere 'walls' and 'ceiling' are covered with rich gold embroidery, and from the outside there is an inconspicuous layer of rather dull yellow fabric that would not attract an adversary's attention. As was mentioned above, there is a miniature replica of the Imperial coach of Catherine II - as a surprise contained in the Fabergé egg. And here, in Staraya Derevnya, you can see the original at the Carriage Hall.

Naturally, the Costume Gallery is also of great interest - from Peter's outfits (including an ushanka prototype) and Catherine's military uniforms to the coronation dress of Alexandra Feodorovna and contemporary designers' masterpieces. For guest visitation of the facility a reservation on the Hermitage Museum's website is required.

New Holland Island and Erarta

Do you know where the expression "Ne lez' v butylku" came from? From here! Here, on the island formed by the Moyka river, the Kryukov and Admiralty canals, where the historical buildings of a former Petrine shipyard have been preserved, with warehouses and storehouses used for storing the ship timber, there was a prison for sailors, popularly nicknamed "the bottle" for its round shape ("stay away from the bottle", that is, "don't push it, respond adequately, or else..."). Today this building is among the main centres of attraction of the New Holland Park. Instead of the former detention facility, there is a clearly zoned public space: on the ground floor there is a plethora of trendy bars and cafés, and on the first floor there are boutiques (from T-shirts to vinyl), bookshops and the studio of the NHI FM radio station, on the second you can find fitness, yoga and beauty facilities, including a studio of modern dance "Context" by Diana Vishneva.

In winter, they fill a large ice rink on New Holland Island, where a distinctive audio sequence is offered for each day of the week, and lots of après-ski entertainment is provided, including the proper mulled wine in the Kuznyahouse restaurant and the creative "Pavlova" in Cococo bistro - a new project by Matilda Shnurova. Incidentally, you can get acquainted with the work of her ex-husband and see "the very same" louboutins, exhibited in front of the yellow D&G shirt by Sergey Shnurov, at the private Erarta museum.

The name of the Erarta Museum is derived from the Russian words 'era' and 'arta', which can be translated as "the era of art". This is the largest private museum of contemporary art in Russia.

All five floors of the building of the former research institute in the 29th Line of Vasilievsky Island are devoted to contemporary art. A series of St. Petersburg elephants from Nikolai Kopeikin and a model of bipolar activity by Dmitry Kawarga, the lilac jungle of "Vishnevyy sad" (the Cherry Orchard) installation and the fantastic hats of Philip Treacy - you could spend a whole day here without even noticing.

Skating rink by the sea

In Sevkabel Port, you can ice skate with a view of both the Admiralteysky Canal and the Gulf of Finland. To tell the truth, this is not for squishies - here you can feel in full force that St. Petersburg is a city by the sea: the harsh winds blow too much. But aesthetically, this is a feast for the eyes, especially when the twilight deepens, the lights come on, and “the magic forest” arranged in the center of the skating rink turns red, then blue, then green. Besides this, there is a splendid panorama of the gulf, the harbor and the cable-stayed bridge, along which the WHSD passes - a section of the high-speed highway of the Northern capital. If the weather is nice, come here to watch the sunset. Walk along the pedestrian promenade with the longest «bar counter» in the city, take you to a new reality thanks to the immersive audiovisual installation Arrival (from 25 December to 24 January at the Cable Shop), or maybe even brew craft beer at the local brewery. Needless to say, Sevkabel Port is also an excellent venue for concerts, festivals, exhibitions and other joys of life. This public space appeared with the support of the plant of the same name, which previously occupied the squares on both sides of Kozhevennaya Line of Vasilyevsky Island, and now has ceded its “seaside territories” to the creative cluster.

Lenreserv

In the former production areas, there is also an exhibition of the patriotic association "Lenrezerv" - a unique private collection that contains numerous relics of wartime: from cars to personal letters of the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad. In fact, the entire huge exposition in the former workshops of the plant on the Vyborgskaya Side is a real hymn to the great city that withstood the colossal test of the blockade.

You don't even need a guide's explanations - you just have to read the lines of letters or records of medical journals that registered exhaustion as the cause of death. Or see ration cards (for 5 grams of butter per day). Or see the cabbage beds in the Isaac Square in the photo. Terrible hunger and horrible everyday life - but at the same time theatrical premieres, concerts, issues of fictional books, newly opened churches (about the heroism of the clergy during the war - only documents, no speculation). The city made great efforts to survive - this incredible energy and will to live are amazing and inspiring. You can visit the exhibition only with a guided tour, by appointment.

Island of forts

Another place of glorious Russian history is Kronstadt, where the Island of Forts project has recently been implemented. The organizers are about to transform the once closed port city into a modern recreational cluster with parks, museums, exhibition spaces and educational projects, which will be united by the history of the Russian Navy. The ancient forts, built here since the times of Peter the Great, according to the project authors’ idea, will be restored, "museumified" and adapted for a wide variety of leisure activities.

Suffice it to say that a yacht marina and a seaport will be constructed here, and a cableway will be built to the "Emperor Alexander I" fort, which now can be communicated with only by water. But this is a matter for the next few years.

The Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas - the last and largest of the Russian Empire’s naval cathedrals - was conceived as a Memorial Church to the dead sailors.

Meanwhile people come here to breathe the fresh Baltic wind in an apple orchard’s shade, walk along the Alley of Heroes of the Russian Fleet, which tells about its 300-year history, and honor the memory of the dead sailors in the grand Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt, which is only a few minutes drive from the Island of Forts.

The material was prepared as a result of 5 information and presentation press tours series that took place from November 28 to December 7, 2020 in the northern capital. It was attended by 50 journalists and bloggers from different regions of Russia.

 

 

Text: Lyudmila Burkina, photo mywaymag.ru, DEPOSITPHOTOS.COM, PRESS SERVICE OF THE FABERGE MUSEUM, ALEXANDER ALEXEEV / LORI PHOTOBANK, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM, KUDA-SPB.RU, PRESS SERVICE PREVIEW SERVICE PREVIEW MUSEUM ERARTA.