Arts Square

Arts Square is one of the most interesting architectural ensembles in St Petersburg as all the buildings facing the square are connected to arts.

The center of the ensemble is the Mikhailovsky Palace, designed by architect Rossi in 1819-1825 for the grand duke Michail Pavlovich, brother of Emperors Alexander I and Nicolas I. The palace is separated from the square with monumental cast-iron wrought. In the center of the facade of the palace there is a portico decorated with columns. The frieze with 44 high relieves were made according to the design of sculptor Demut-Malinovsky. On the sides of the granite stair-case there are two bronze statues of lions. The opposite facade of the Mikhailovsky Palace is shaped as grandeur twelve-column loggia above the arcade, with side porticos and pediments. The facade looks like the buildings by architect Gabriel on Agreement Square in Paris. In 1895, the Mikhailovsky Palace was purchased by the state, and in 1898 the Museum of Russian Art, housed in the palace interiors, was officially opened to the public. Today the Russian museum contains the largest collection of works of Russian art in the world. In 1912-1916 the new building, designed by architects Benua and Ovsyannikov was added to the Mikhailovsky Palace. It was intended for temporary exhibitions, but nowadays Benua building houses part of the permanent exposition of the Russian Museum.

Planning the ensemble of Arts Square Rossi thought that the Mikhailovsky Palace will be the landmark of the composition, thus the rest of the buildings facing the square feature relatively modest architectural characteristics. To the left from Benua building there is the Maly Opera and Ballet Theater named in honor of Mussorgsky. It's housed in the building of the former Mikhailovsky Theater built in 1831-1833 according to the design of architect Brullov. Today the repertoire of the theater includes operas and operettas by outstanding Russian and foreign composers, performed by genre masters.

On Arts Square, there is another building, closely connected to the musical life of St Petersburg. It is the Bolshoy Hall of St Petersburg Philharmonic named after Dmitry Shostakovich, built in 1839 by architect Jacquot. The building used to house the Assembly of the Noble. Starting from the 40s of the 19th century, the Bolshoy Hall of Philharmonic became the center of the musical culture of Petersburg: it was the place where world-famous musicians such as Liszt, Berlioz, Wagner, Schumann and others gave concerts. The date of August, 9, 1942 had gone down in history of the city: that's when composer Dmitry Shostakovich performed his famous Seventh Leningrad symphony, dedicated to Leningrad defenders, on the philharmonic stage of the sieged city. The citizens of the blockade Leningrad called the symphony "the salvo in Reichstag".

Next to the Mikhailovsky Palace there is the building of the Ethnographic Museum, constructed by architect Svinyin. The exposition of the museum includes the collections of the life items of ethnographic groups of Russia and former USSR, as well as works of modern folk arts and crafts.

The ensemble of the square also includes the eclectic building of the Europe Hotel, built in 1873-1875 by Fontana and reconstructed by architect Lidval. In different times such outstanding persons as Straus, Debussy, Turgenev, Gorky, Mayakovsky and others stayed in the rooms of the hotel. Nowadays the hotel is one of the best in St Petersburg.

In 1957, a monument to the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was put up on Arts Square. It was designed by sculptor Anikushin in 1957, and nowadays it harmonically completes the square ensemble.

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