Central Squares Ensemble

The route will lead you though the most beautiful squares of the central part of St. Petersburg

Three central squares of St. Petersburg – Palace Square, Senate Square and St.Isaak's Square – with the Winter Palace, the General staff building, the Admiralty, St. Isaac's Cathedral  located on them and other buildings form a uniform spatial organism on the bank of Neva. 

The ensemble of central squares was created and got the modern look in a result of successive creative activity of several generations of Russian architects. The most responsible task in formation of ensemble of three squares fell to the lot of A. D. Zakharov who created one of the greatest architectural works of the world - the building of the Admiralty serving as a connecting link between Palace Square and Decembrists Square.

The Winter Palace, the Admiralty, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Senate and the Synod are turned by their northern facades towards Neva. Its broad water spaces are inseparably linked with prospects of the grandiose squares and powerful massifs of the buildings located on them. Exactly here greatness and a unique originality of architectural panoramas of the city reveals to those who are in love with St. Petersburg with a special force and clarity .

  • points of interest 1 ,
  • streets 1 ,
  • squares 2 ,
  • monuments 1 ,
  • parks 2
2 km, 928 m
Palace Square

Palace Square

St. Petersburg, Dvortsovaya ploshchad

Palace Square, the main square of Saint Petersburg 

Palace Square in Saint Petersburg is a place loved by the guests and the inhabitants of the city, the heart of the northern capital of Russia. It is one of the most beautiful architectural ensemble. It is created by the best Russian architects and named after the Winter Palace on it, the latter being built under the project of F.B. Rastrelli in the middle of XVIII century.

In 1819 by Emperor’s commitment architect K.I. Rossi carried out the design of the single architectural ensemble glorifying the Russian victory in the Patriotic War of 1812. The architect’s conception was combining the existing original interiors and new constructions.

Along the southern border of the square constructed the extensive facade of the General Staff Building  was constructed. Its length is 580 meters (the longest facade in the world). In the middle of the building there is the prominent arch decorated with the reliefs depicting the flying geniuses of glory, the architectural composition Cart of Glory with the shapes of warriors nearby, and the winged goddess of victory – Nike (the sculptors - N. Pimenov and V. Demuth-Malinvsky). The height of the sculpture is 10 meters, the height of the arch is 28 meters and the width is 17 meters.

 Alexander Column was built in the square in honor of the victory of the Russian armies over Napoleon. It was built under the project of Auguste de Montferrand in 1834. The column was named after Emperor Alexander I. Weighing 600 tons and being 47,5 meters high, it is crowned with the statue of an angel defeating a snake with a cross which is the symbol of the good defeating the bad. The angel’s head is bent to the ground so his face is seen from below (the architect - B. Orlovsky). The bas-reliefs on the pedestal of the column glorify the Russian victory (the sculptors - I. Lepee and P. Svintsov). The connecting link of all the buildings was the construction of the Guard Headquarters Building on the eastern side of the square completed in 1843 (the architect - A.P. Brullov). The facade of the Guard Headquarters Building is decorated with a portico of twenty ionic columns. The most beautiful building on the Palace Square is the Winter Palace.

This prominent building occupies 9 hectares and has about 1500 rooms. There was the time when the Winter Palace was the highest building in Saint Petersburg and in the central part of the city it was not allowed to put up houses any higher.

The Admiralty Embankment

The Admiralty Embankment

St. Petersburg, Admiralteiskiy district, The Admiralty Embankment

The youngest of all front embankments of the historic center of St. Petersburg

The Admiralty Embankment (Russian: Адмиралтейская набережная (Admiralteyskaya Naberezhnaya)) or Admiralty Quay is a street along the Neva River in Central Saint Petersburg, named after theAdmiralty Board. Between 1919 and 1944 the street was known as Roshal Embankment, named after the revolutionary S. G. Roshal.

The Admiralty Embankment was constructed in 1763 to 1767, by the engineers V. M. Karlowicz and S. S. Selyavionov. The street has no other buildings than the Admiralty and the Bronze Horseman.

The street begins at the Decembrists Square, where the English Embankment becomes the Admiralty Embankment. The street ends at the Palace Bridge, where it becomes the Palace Embankment.

The Admiralty Embankment is home to the Admiralty Board and the Bronze Horseman, it has also a wonderful view of the Neva and the Saint Petersburg State University is just across the Neva.

538 m
Monument to Peter I on Senate Square (Bronze Horseman)

Monument to Peter I on Senate Square (Bronze Horseman)

Saint Petersburg, Senatskaya ploshchad

Monument to Peter the Great, the founder of St.Petersburg

Commissioned by Catherine the Great, the monument was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet in 1782. The second name (the Bronze Horseman) comes from the same name poem written by Aleksander Pushkin (1833). The monument symbolizes the Russian victory over Sweden in the Northern War (1700-1721): the snake symbolizes a defeated enemy, the horse symbolizes Russia. The pedestal of this monument is a huge so-called "thunder-stone", which was delivered to Senate Square from a borough Lakhta.

There is a legend that one can find the name of Étienne Falconet on a fold of Peter the Great's cloak.

You can see the ballet “Bronze Horseman” in Mariinsky theater.

310 m
Senate Square

Senate Square

St. Petersurg, Senatskaya ploshchad

One of the oldest squares in St. Petersburg

Senate Square started to take shape in 1704, initially as part of the Admiralty’s glacis. The Admiralty was intended not only as a shipyard, but also as a fortress, therefore, it required open space around it. In the mid-1710s, the western border of this space was marked by the tenement house of Prince Menshikov, located on the corner of the Angliskaya Embankment.

Here, on the banks of the Neva, the first wooden building of St. Isaac's Church was put up in 1710 to be used by the admiralty ministers and sailors. Peter I and Catherine I got married in that church.

Since 1717, the southern border of the future Senate Square was washed by the Admiralteysky Kanal, which at first was used to store the construction forest, and then to transport the logs from the New Holland Island. In 1720, another short canal was dug from it, perpendicular to the Neva, emphasizing the western border of the square where the turpentine distillery was located. The Synod building was later erected in its place. This Admiralty Canal’s sublateral contributed to fire safety, since the turpentine distillery posed a threat to the shipyard.

On June 30, 1720, Peter I ordered: “To make a spinning-house behind the courtyard of His Serene Highness and split off the street from that courtyard”. Thus was determined both the place for the Ropeyard, located by the Admiralteysky Canal, and the direction of Galernaya Street extending away from the square.

Since 1727, a floating pontoon Isaakievsky bridge was thrown from here to the opposite bank of the Neva.

In the 1730s, a large stone temple was built on the site of the wooden St. Isaac's Church. It was located approximately where you can now see the monument to Peter I (the famous "Bronze Horseman"). It is noteworthy that the church not only was named after the saint on whose day the founder of St. Petersburg was born, but its first location also coincided with the site of the monument to Peter I. The first official name of this square – Isaakievskaya (St. Isaac's square) - is associated with the cathedral. This name was assigned to the square on April 20, 1738. At that time, the name was written with one letter "a" - "Isakievskaya". The toponym did not catch on; it was used only in the official documents. Later, the name transferred to the area south of the modern St. Isaac's Cathedral.

After the death of Prince Menshikov, his plot of land was given to Vice-Chancellor A. Osterman, and in 1744 - to Chancellor A.P. Bestuzhev-Ryumin. A palace with a baroque facade was built here for the new owner. After Catherine II ascended to the throne, the Senate moved here from the Twelve Colleges building. Under Catherine II, in 1760, St. Isaac's Cathedral changed its location. The foundation of the church on the banks of the Neva was not stable, therefore it had to be moved away from the river. It was at that time that the cathedral was built on the banks of the Admiralty Canal, south of the square.

In 1782, a monument to Peter I (The Bronze Horseman) by the French sculptor E.M. Falconet was unveiled on the square. After this event, the square received a new name - Petrovskaya Square.

At the end of the 18th century, the house of Ustevs merchants appeared on the site of the old turpentine distillery. The house later went over to the merchants Kusovnikovs.

A part of the Admiralty Canal, adjacent to Senate Square, was enclosed in a pipe at the very beginning of the 19th century. The search for the contractors for this work was carried out in the summer of 1804. At the same time, the sublateral that joined the canal with the Neva was filled in.

In 1820, a granite abutment was built at the entrance of St. Isaac's Bridge.

The eastern part of Senate Square was finally fully developed in the 1820s due to the construction of the new Admiralty building by architect Andreyan Zakharov. In 1834, the construction of the magnificent Senate and Synod building, designed by Carlo Rossi, was completed.

On December 14, 1825, the regiments that refused to give an oath to the new Tsar Nicholas I, lined up at the foot of the monument to Peter I. In total, there were about 3,000 rebels on the square, who were surrounded by troops that had already given their oath. The uprising was crushed. These events took place in front of the fourth St. Isaac's Cathedral which was being constructed by architect Auguste Montferrand; it was completed by 1858. Since then, the architectural appearance of the Senate Square has not changed.

In 1874, Senate Square became part of the Alexander Garden arranged by the Admiralty. Flowerbeds and lawns were laid out and scrubby trees were planted near the monument to Peter I. Oaks were planted from the side of St. Isaac's Cathedral. The rockwork was arranged between the monument and the Admiralty. In 1890, the part of the garden near the Bronze Horseman was transformed into a square and cobbled again.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Decembrist uprising in 1925, the square received a new name - Decembrists Square. On July 31, 2008 its former name – Senate Square – was restored.

114 m
St.Isaac's Square

St.Isaac's Square

St. Petersburg, Isaakiyevskaya Square

St.Isaac's Square is a classic example of landscape ensemble second half of XIX century

The square which is situated in the historic center of the city between St.Isaac's Cathedral and the statue to Nicolas I. This statue was the first equestrian statue with two support points erected in Europe – the technical wonder that saved it from being demolished in the Soviet times. The “Angleterre” hotel, notorious for the tragic death of S.Yesenin, turn its facade to the square. The composition of the square includes the Blue bridge connecting the two banks of the Moika river famous for its series of “bridges of color”. The Blue bridge is the widest in St.Petersburg. 

In the days of the Siege of Leningrad the garden-beds were used for raising vegetables.

Seek for the water measuring column at the corner of the house N 44, Bolshaya Morskaya st, at the Blue bridge. The column shows the levels of most important floods of the city. The greatest took place in 1824 when the flood lifted up to 421 cm. Note the sun-clock.

527 m
Aleksandrovsky Sad (Alexander Garden)

Aleksandrovsky Sad (Alexander Garden)

Saint Petersburg, Aleksandrovsky Sad

The garden was opened in 1874. It is called in honor of the emperor Alexander II

The garden is situated in the very center of St.Petersburg nearby its landmarks: the Winter palace, the Admiralty, St.Isaac's Cathedral and the Bronze Horseman monument. It is named after the emperor Alexander II famous for the abolition of serfdom in Russia, who ruled the country in the days when the garden was opened to public. The territory would once be occupied by fortifications defending the Admiralty, years after that the Admiralty meadow was set up to be later on divided into three squares: Admiralteyskaya, Isaakiyevskaya and Senatskaya. In 1874 the Alexander garden was opened with more than 5 thousand trees, more than 12,5 thousand bushes of 52 kinds having been planted. The landmarks that call the public attention are, firstly, the Bronze Horseman – the monument to Peter the Great, secondly, a part of the rail tracks of the first line of the tramway launched in St.Petersburg, marked by a memorial stone, and thirdly, by a great fountain surrounded by the statues of Russian poets and composers. 

During the Siege of Leningrad none of the trees were felled to make logs for the fire.

During the rule of the empress Anna Ioannovna in the 18th century the Admiralty meadow was the place to host public feasts accompanied with bonfires, fountains of wine and «amusement palaces» made of ice being constructed.

There is a camel somewhere in the park.

358 m
Building of the Main Admiralty

Building of the Main Admiralty

Saint Petersburg, Admiralteysky proezd, 1

The first building on the left bank of the Neva River and it's one of the most important sight of St. Petersurg

Originally the Admiralty reflected Peter I only as shipyard, according to his project it was put on November 5, 1704. The modern building of the Admiralty consists of two P-shaped cases – internal and external. Length of the main facade of the Admiralty – 406 meters, lateral – 163 meters. Six multicolumn porticoes decorated the central facade of the building. In the center of a facade the many-tier tower with an entrance arch is located. The spike making 72 meters in height, is topped with a weather vane ship which became one of symbols of Leningrad. The building of the Admiralty is decorated by bas-reliefs, statues and stucco mouldings. It is constructed in 1727-1737, it is reconstructed in 1806-1823. Architects: I.K. Korobov, A.D. Zakharov

Firstly having been constructed as a shipyard, at present the Admiralty building is the Headquarters of the Russian Navy.Three central streets of St. Petersburg split off from the Admiralty Spire as three rays.: Nevsky prospekt, Gorokhovaya ulitsa and Voznesensky prospekt. On the top of the 72,5 meter spire one can see the symbol of St. Petersburg - a gilded weather vane in the form of a ship.

According to the legend, the silhouette of the weather vane repeats a contour of the first ship which came into the port of St. Petersburg soon after the foundation of the city.

Find the Admiralty spire from Gorokhovaya ulitsa, Voznesensky and Nesky prospekts. Just because of this interesting possibility - one can see the spire from these 3 streets -  in the 19th century the Admiralty was jestingly called  a "Pole Star" or "Nevsky trident".

510 m