Department of public health RF.
Abstract on English by
Kuranov Alina Olegovna –
a student of Essentuki medical
college group №261
St-Peterburg is stillless then 300 years old: the age of the city on the Neva delta is calculated from 27 May (16 May old-style) 1703 – the day when the foundation of a new Russian fortress were laid on little Hare Island, intended to protect the territory around the Neva that had been won from the Swedesin the Northern War. The citadel was named (in Dutch style) Sankt Pieterburgh (Saint Peter’s City); thus began the history of the capital of the Russian Empire, founded by Peter I.
However, St. Petersburg has its prehistory, just as other European capitals do. Paris was originally a settlemt of the Gallic tribe the Parisii called Lutetia, which the Romans made into a military base called Parisiorum or Parisia. London and Vienna grew up on the sites of Caltic setelements and Roman camps. A Moorish fortress formed the basis for Madrid.
St. Petersburg has played an exceptional role in the life of Russia. It is the second largest city in our country. St. Petersburg is the most northern capital in the world. It is on the latitude as Greenland, Alaska an Chukotka. This explains the white nights which are most clearly visible between 11 June and 2 July. The city is rather young. It was founded less than 300 years ago. The founder of St. Petersburg is Peter the Great, who laid the first stone of the Peter and Paul Fortress in 1703 on Hare island thus starting a new city. In 1712 it became the capital of Russia the centre of its political and cultural life.
St. Petersburg is one the greatest and most beautiful cities in the world. Its historical and cultural importance is as big as that of Paris, London or Rome. «Northern Palmira”, “Northern Venice” attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world.
The first fortress appeared on the banks of the Neva, where St. Petersburg was subsequently established, 700 years ago;
Since the city is situated on the banks of a 41 island, it has hundreds of kilometers of quays and more than 300 bridges. Many quays were built not only as banks fortifications, but also as the architectural element of the space and expanse. The beautiful descents to the water line, ornamental elements made of stone and metal, sculptures, fine railings and lampposts -all this makes quays and bridges of Saint Petersburg one of the most popular sites, draw-ing the great attention of the city’s amateurs.
It was a Swedish fortress called Landskrona (“Land’s Crown”), built where the River Okhta flows into the Neva. A Russian village soon grew up around the fortress. This fortified setelement at the mouth of the Okhta has changed its name and even the state to which it has belonged, but has continued to exist virtually without a break.
Unfortunately, this impressive date – seven centuries of this fortress twon on the Neva within St. Petersburd’s city boundaries – has passed almost unnoticed. The story of this suburb, rich and facinating in its own right, has always ramained in the shadow of the dazzlind history of the northern capital, but the medieval fortress in the Okhta mouth is an important landmark in the historical heritage of the peoples of Northen Europe.
The Neva has provided Russia with an access to the Baltic Sea since ancient time; it was from here that the celebrated water route “from the Vikings to the Greeks” started. The lands around the river were the focus for close cooperation, and at the same time military confrontation, between Novgorod the Great and Sweden.
Early in the summer of 1300 Swedish knights led by Tergils Knutsson carried out a sea-borne invation into Novgorod territory. They stooped at the mouth of the Okhta, where they built the Landskrona fortress on a pointed promontory. They dug a channal between the two rivers and filled it with water; then constructed an earthwork behind it, with wooden walls and towers. The arrivel of the Swedish “Land’s Crown” threatened Russia with the loss of her access to the Baltic, so within a year the Novgorod army of Grand Prince Andrey Alexandrovich attacked the stronghold and captured it after a decisive assault. The fortress construction was destroyed.
A Russian settlemant soon arose on the ruins of Landskrona. Time has obliterated all traces of it, but archaeological finds tell us about life at that time – fragments of 14th century ceramic vassels, for example. Old documents refer to regular inter national trade in the Neva estuary; forein merchantes (mostly Hanseatic) had the right to moor and repair their vessels here. Goods brought in on ships were transferred to Novgorodian river boats. Foreign vessels could not ignore this strategically important and convenient spot on the Okhta promontory which was home both to preasants who cultivated the land and to tradespeople.
A chronicle of 1500, containing information about an outlying region of the Novgorod territory called the Vodskaya District names its outpost as the Village at the Mouth of the Okhta. We are indebted to the chronicles of Ivan 3, Grand Prince of Moskow, for the first reliable reference to the group of settlements on the site of modern St. Petersburg – in particular Lakhta, Pargolovo and Dudorovo (later Duderhof). Note the date of this chronicle: it was compiled exactly 500 years ago! Another anniversary connected with our city’s prehistory.
The “village” was later called the Neva Estuary, or the Neva Town. It was destroyed on more than one occasion in the 16th century: in 1583, during the Russo-Swedish War, King John 3 of Sweden ordered new fortifications to be constructed on the site of the half-ruined ones. It seems that the interminable military actions of the time meant that Landskrona was rebuilte sometimes by the Russians, sometimes by the Swedes. In spite of all its reveres of fortune, the Russian settlement on the Okhta estuary developed into a city center. It was a bustlind place at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, containing the Sovereigns Arcade, the Church of the Archangl Michael (protector of warriors), a wharf and a Customs House, a sure sign of flourishing foreign trade.
During the “time of troubles” the fortress of Nienschants was built on the site of the Neva town in 1611, by order of King Charles 9 of Sweden; it was originally a small rectangular castle with a garrison of 600 men. The work was supervised by Commander Nienschats; this gradually increased in size to be a town called Nien. By the middle of the 17th century it had become an important transit point for international trade. After the storming of fortress by Russian detachments in 1656, Swedish engineer G. von Seilenberg built a new earthen castle with five basrions in the shape of a star; the approach to it was barred by rampart with three bastions. He constructed a bridge across the Okhta to link the fortress with the town proper on the right-hand side of the river.
The history of Nien came to an abrupt end in the fourth year of the Northern War: on 25 April 1703 a corps of 25,000 men under the command of Peter 1 and Field-Marshal Boris Sheremetyev launcher an assault on Nienschants. The fortress fell, and tradition has it that the Tsar planted an oak tree to mark the burial-ground of Russian troops killed in the attack. Peter renamed the Swedish citadel Schlotburg (Castle-town). The fortress of Noteburg, captured six months earlier, had already deen called Schlisselburg (Key-town). These symbolic names were evidence of Russia’s lasting claim upon the land around the Neva.
The end of Nienschants marked the beginning of St. Petersburg, and the new city grew at a fantastic speed on the islands in the Neva delta. In 1709, after the victory at Poltava that determined the outcome of the Northern War, the fortifications at Nienschants were ceremonially blown up. In the mid-18th century Andrey Bogdanov, the first historian of St. Petersburg, called for the ruins to be preserved as a rare monument.
The first structure to be built in the new city was the Peter and Paul fortress. Designed to protect the area from the attacks of the Swedish army and navy, the fort did not take part in actual fighting. However, the area was well protected militarily as the Admiralty complex was also fortified. The Admiralty was a center of different activities of St. Petersburg. The most powerful ships of Russia’s Baltic Fleet were built there, which led to a series of naval victories in the course of the Northern War. Many of the street and district names in St. Petersburg still remind us of Peter the Great’s war preparations (Liteiny – “the Foundry yard”, Smolny – “the Tar yard”, which produced tar for shipbuilding, etc.).
Tzar Peter the Great originally lived in a tiny cabin, which became known as the Cabin of Peter the Great. Soon a Summer Palace was built for him (1714) and a Winter Palace just a bit down the river. There were no bridges across the mighty Neva River and people had to be ferried across by boat (this is why they call St. Petersburg “the Venice of the North”). The original downtown was formed in the area between the fortress and the Cabin of Peter the Great, the place which later became the Trinity Square (Troitskaia Ploschad’). The focal point of the downtown was the first church of the city – the Trinity Church. Houses for the local elite, a first Gostiny Dvor (a market for the local and visiting merchants) and several inns and bars were built. Most of the high class social events (receptions, balls, etc.) took place either in the Summer Gardens or in the palace of the Governor General of St. Petersburg – the luxurious Menshikov Palace.
You will visit the Summer Garden with it’s beautiful sculptures – the beloved child of Peter the First. Michael garden with Russian Museum, Alexander garden with Admiralty Tower and the Copper Horseman, the Park of the Stone Island and Kirova Park. Walking along the paths of the parks and public gardens, admiring the well-known railing of the Summer Garden as well as the railings and lampposts of the other parks and gardens, you’ll feel all of them being an integral part of the city.
Even those, who have never been here yet, have definitely seen the photographs of the magnificent fountains, park pavilions and palaces of this Tsar’s Residence. Planned by Peter the First himself, the ensemble has been further developed and accomplished by many an excellent architects, sculptors and engineers.
You’ll enjoy the Big Peterhoffs Palace, planned by F. Rastrelly, the Palace Mon-plaisir (the first Painting Gallery in Russia), the Big Stone Green-house, pavilion Hermitage, Marly Palace and the most remarkable here – a great number of fountains, different in form and decor, striking by their beauty, elegance and, sometimes even by their unpredictable conduct-Coming to Saint Petersburg, you ought to visit this place!
Very few buildings from the early 18th century have survived: many were torn down or remodeled. The building of the “Twelve Colleges” and the Kikin House might give you an impression of what the original city looked like. Many of the original buildings in the city were built according to a number of typical designs, approved by the tzar. Some buildings of the downtown still bear the stamp of this early architecture. When Peter the Great died in 1725, his wife Catherine assumed power and then the rulers started changing every few years, overthrowing one another. Meanwhile the city experienced a short decline. For a short period (in the late 1720s) the royal court was moved back to Moscow. Many of the nobility and merchants, forced by Peter the Great to move to St. Petersburg, now chose to leave the city. The city was fully revived only when Peter’s daughter Elizabeth became Empress in 1741. Elizabethan St. Petersburg became a lively European capital and its population reached 150 thousand.
During the reign of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, St. Petersburg finally became a fine European capital. At the beginning of this period fine buildings stood right next to ugly huts. After 20 years of Elizabeth’s reign St. Petersburg and its suburbs could rival the most beautiful European cities.
The Imperial splendor of St. Petersburg was best reflected in the suburban royal residences. Peter the Great’s estate Peterhof was remodeled by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the architect of the Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral. The Grand Palace and the Grand Cascade of Peterhof were decorated with extreme luxury. That was typical for Elizabeth’s time, since her court was big and very expensive for the country’s purse.
The Yekaterininsky (Catherine’s) Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), which once used to belong to Peter the Great’s wife Catherine, was now turned into a magnificent royal residence with a vast and elaborate Baroque garden.
Elizabeth commissioned the lovely Smolny Convent and the Winter Palace, though she died before both buildings were completed. Ironically, during Elizabeth’s reign the area near the palace, which later became the Palace Square, was used as a grazing land for the royal cows.
Elizabeth tried to follow many of her father’s policies. Unlike some of her predecessors, she preferred to appoint Russians and not foreigners to the highest positions in the country. Being a patron of national arts and sciences, she established the Russian Academy of Arts. It has to be mentioned that Elizabeth was a very lively woman: she preferred to skip work when possible and enjoy balls, receptions, masquerades, firework displays, and other things which were a lot of fun.
Elizabeth’s nephew Peter III did not rule for too long. Shortly after assuming power he was overthrown by his wife, a German princess, who soon became the famous Catherine the Great. Under her rule St. Petersburg turned into a “Grand City”.
Catherine the Great assumed power in 1762 after a coup d’ etat, which she engineered together with officers of the Royal Guard. Unlike her husband, she was well loved by the country’s elite and received a very good press in Europe thanks to her contacts with many figures of the French Enlightenment.
Catherine’s court was extremely luxurious. She was the first to move into the newly built Winter Palace. Catherine started a royal art collection which later became the world-famous Hermitage.
Several additional buildings (the Small Hermitage and the Old Hermitage) were commissioned for the growing royal collection of art. The Hermitage Theater was built and the area around the palace was put in order and built up with the finest houses and palaces.
The most prominent embankments on the left bank of the Neva river were upgraded to their present red granite look and the marvelous wrought iron fence of the Summer Gardens was built by Yuri Felten in 1773-86.
Under Catherine’s patronage science, the arts and trade flourished. New buildings for the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Fine Arts and the first Public Library (now the Russian National Library) were constructed and the large Gostiny Dvor trading complex was opened on Nevsky Prospect. Many educational institutions were established.
In Tsarskoye Selo ( now Pushkin) several additions to the royal palace were built. One of these new wings (the Cameron Gallery) served as the living quarters for Catherine the Great herself. The lovely park which surrounds the palaces still bears the stamp of Catherine’s lively and luxurious court.
Among Catherine’s many reforms was the reform of St. Petersburg local administration. In 1766 the position of gorodskoi golova (a mayor) was established. In 1774 a Magistrat (municipal council) was formed, and in 1786 it was transformed into the city Duma.
A monument to Catherine the Great was built in 1873 in a garden just off Nevsky Prospect (by the Public Library and the Alexandrinsky Theater. Thousands of people come to visit her tomb in the Peter and Paul Cathedral.
When Catherine the Great died in 1796 a whole new period in Russian history started. Catherine’s son Paul I introduced some ultra-conservative policies, curtailed the St Petersburg local administration and made several major steps towards turning Russia into a bureaucratic state. The worst fear in Paul’s life was the fear of being assassinated.
The palace and Park ensemble was constructed in the end of the XVIII c on the land, bestowed by Catherine the Great upon her son Pavel I a future emperor of Russia. The Palece, construction of which was directed by such famous architects as Ch. Kameron, A. Voronikhin, K. Rossi – is not as magnificent and rich as the Catherine’s Palace, but it is nevertheless very distinctive and interesting with it’s interior, a picture gallery and one of the best landscape parks in Europe. Thanks to the plan of the creators of this park, you will sec here absolutely unique landscapes that will enable you to feel the beau-ty of the northern Russian nature.
Trying to hide from possible plots, he built a well-protected palace for himself – the Mikhailovsky Castle. However that did not help, and on March 12, 1801 Paul I was assassinated in the newly-built castle, in his own bedroom. Ironically, the coup was engineered by his son Alexander, who had sworn to continue the policies of his grandmother – Catherine the Great.
Upon assuming power Alexander I had introduced a series of reforms. A political reform brought to life a new structure of government: in 1802 Alexander approved a system of ministries with ministers reporting directly to the monarch; in 1810 – the State Council was formed. For better or for worse, bureaucracy flourished. Soon St. Petersburg became a very bureaucratic, ordered city and its traditional regular street layout and heavy policing just contributed to such an image.
During the reign of Alexander I the Russian army successfully stopped Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and drove the French army back to Paris (1812-14). The captured French banners were put in the newly built Kazan Cathedral, where the Russian army commander, Field-Marshal Kutuzov, was buried in 1813.
In the Russian Imperial capital everything had to look very orderly. It was the heyday of architectural ensembles and perfectionist “classical” designs. The Admiralty, the naval headquarters of Russia, was remodeled in 1806-23. The complex of the Stock Exchange and the Rostral columns was built at the Southern edge (Strelka) of Vasilievsky Island. Arts Square with the Mikhailovsky Palace (1819-25) was designed by Carlo Rossi. In 1818 the construction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral began but was completed only 40 years later.
When Alexander I suddenly died in the town of Taganrog (some say, he ran away to Siberia to escape the heavy burden of power) in December 1825, a political crisis erupted. A group of liberal young army officers (later called the “Decembrists”) started a revolt, hoping that Nicholas I, Alexander’s younger brother, would have to sign a Constitution for the country. They brought their soldiers to the Senate square by the Bronze Horseman, but remained inactive. The uprising was cruelly crushed, the five organizers executed and the rest exiled to Siberia.
Due to the Decembrist Uprising the new Emperor, Nicholas I, adopted the most conservative policies. Russia was left to be an economically backward bureaucratic state. That was well reflected in the Imperial capital – St. Petersburg. The desire for orderliness reached ridiculous heights. The orderly appearance of a marching army was Nicholas’s ideal. Military order was everywhere. Even the civil educational institutions (colleges) were treated as military schools.
Paradoxically, culture flourished under such an oppressive regime. Alexander Pushkin wrote some of his best poetry, before being killed in a duel in 1837. Mikhail Glinka, one of the first great Russian composers, wrote his best operas and chamber music. Fiodor Dostoyevsky lived in St. Petersburg from 1837 and in 1844 started his career as a writer.
Despite its obvious economic backwardness, which resulted in a humiliating defeat in the Crimean War (1853-56), Russia was gradually moving down the road of technical progress. In 1837 the first Russian railroad was opened. It connected St. Petersburg with the royal residence at Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin). In 1851 another railroad connected St. Petersburg with Moscow. In 1850 the first permanent bridge across the Neva River was opened. Before that there were only temporary (pontoon) bridges which could not operate in winter.
St. Petersburg became more and more majestic. The ensemble of Palace Square was finished with the construction of the General Staff building (1819-29), the Alexander Column (1830-34) and the Royal Guards Staff building (1837-43). In 1839-44 the Mariinsky Palace (nowadays the City Hall) was built for Nicholas’ beloved daughter Maria. St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the main church of the Russian Empire, was finally completed only in 1858, when Nicholas I had already died and his son Alexander II was on the throne.
When Alexander II was crowned as Russian Emperor, the country was trying to cope with a humiliating defeat in the Crimean War. Something had to be done to boost the national economy and ensure political stability. A series of reforms was undertaken under the supervision of Alexander II. The Russian serfs were freed in 1861, although peasants had to pay for their land. Then followed a military reform, a legal reform (a trial by jury was introduced) and the city administration reform, which allowed St Petersburg a higher degree of self-government.
Despite the scale of the reforms some revolutionaries considered Alexander to be too conservative. After a series of assassination attempts, on March 1, 1881 Alexander II was fatally wounded and died the same day. The marvelous Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood (1883-1907) was built on the spot where Alexander II was assassinated. Some of the reforms (and the constitution which was ready to be signed) were repealed or curtailed by his enraged son Alexander III and a period of repressions and conservatism followed.
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg was becoming a capitalist city. The number of factories and plants (both Russian and foreign) grew quickly, while Nevsky Prospect and downtown streets were filled with banks and company offices. By the 1890s construction was booming and new multi-storey apartment buildings were mushrooming all over the city. During this period the famous Mariinsky theater (for a time called the Kirov theater ) was built along with a number of palaces for Grand Dukes, the Liteiny bridge (where the first street lights in the city were installed ) and monuments to Catherine the Great, Nicholas I and the poet Alexander Pushkin.
1. Newspaper «The St. Petersburg Times», №6 (873), 2003y.
2. V. Yakovlev, governor of St.Pt., www.spb300.com/
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