ROUTE No. 5
PETROGRAD SIDE: ST. PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS – KRONVERK – MUSEUM OF ARTILLERY, ENGINEERING AND SIGNAL CORPS – DECEMBRISTS’ MONUMENT – TROITSKAYA SQUARE – PETER THE GREAT’S COTTAGE – SHIH TZE SCULPTURES – AURORA CRUISER – NAKHIMOV NAVAL CADET SCHOOL – MONUMENT TO RUSSIAN MARINES – MUSEUM OF POLITICAL HISTORY OF RUSSIA – MOSQUE – ALEXANDER PARK – STEREGUSHCHIY MONUMENT – STATUE OF MAXIM GORKY – BALTIYSKIY DOM THEATER – PLANETARIUM – ZOO – BOLSHOY PROSPECT – PRINCE VLADIMIR CATHEDRAL – YUBILEYNYY PALACE OF SPORTS – PETROVSKIY STADIUM
On the north side of the Neva, adjacent to Vasilevskiy Island, is a cluster of delta islands known as the Petrograd Side.
The southernmost part of the Petrograd Side is occupied by the St. Peter and Paul Fortress . It is the historical nuclear of St. Petersburg and its major architectural landmark. The fortress was laid down on May 16, 1703 on Zayachiy (Hare) Island to secure Russia’s hold on the Neva delta. It was called St. Petersburg (named after the cathedral built on its territory). Later the name was given to the city that started to grow rapidly around the fortress grounds. Built as a military fortification, St. Peter and Paul Fortress was never required to fulfill the purpose for which it was designed, and was soon turned into a political prison. Peter the Great’s son Alexey was the first of a long line of prominent political prisoners to be held there. Today the fortress is preserved as a historic monument. On the fortress grounds there is a number of structures that are of great architectural value.
The most striking building inside the fortress is the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral . It is also the tallest building in the city (only the TV tower exceeds it in height). The first wooden church was built on this site in 1703, a month after the founding of St. Petersburg. In 1712 work began on the current stone St. Peter and Paul Cathedral according to the plan of architect Domenico Trezzini. The grand opening and consecration occurred on June 29, 1733. The cathedral is quite untypical of the traditional Russian church. With its rectangular design, bell tower and spire, the cathedral looks far more Protestant than Orthodox. Its spire is topped off by a weather vane in the shape of an angel holding a cross.
The cathedral is the burial site of the Russian Imperial family, starting from Peter the Great onwards. Earlier Russian rulers were interred in the Kremlin’s Archangel Cathedral in Moscow. Most of the sarcophagi are of white marble, but those of Alexander II and his wife are carved from Altai jasper and Urals rhodonite. The tomb of Peter I is the only one on which flowers are now placed. On July 17, 1998 the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family were buried in the cathedral’s small St. Catherine chapel.
Opposite the cathedral, to the left of the main path, stands the former Commandant’s House . Across the square from the cathedral is the Mint , founded in 1716, where small coins, medals and decorations are still produced. Beyond the Mint, to the southwest, is the former political prison of the Trubetskoy Bastion . It has now been turned into a museum and the former prison cells can be visited.
In the middle of St. Peter and Paul Fortress near the Engineer’s House stands a controversial Statue of Peter the Great  by sculptor Mikhail Shemyakin, unveiled in 1991. The image of the Tsar is both frightening and grotesque. His bald, wigless head, produced from the death mask taken by Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, and the elongated spidery fingers contrast with the massive torso and rounded shoulders. The image is full of formidable power and inner energy.
Apart from its own ramparts and bastions, the Peter and Paul Fortress was further protected by a system of outlying ramparts called the Kronverk . In the 1850s the Kronverk was replaced by an artillery arsenal which now houses the Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Signal Corps  – one of the biggest of its kind in the world. The museum exterior and interior exhibits are displayed at the area of over 15 thousand square meters. In the museum you can see numerous military objects of the Russian and Soviet armies, ranging from the ancient sword and arquebuses of the 13th century to modern ballistic missiles; military standards, medals, trophy weapons and much more.
On a grassy knoll just to the east of the arsenal, the Decembrists’ Monument  marks the spot where five leaders of the revolt were executed in July 1826. A poem by Alexander Pushkin, who was a contemporary and close friend of many Decembrists, is carved on the plinth.
The area located northeast of the Peter and Paul Fortress, was an early center of the city’s population and construction at the beginning of the 18th century. Troitskaya Square  was one of the first districts to be built up. The name derives from the Trinity Cathedral that once formed the nucleus of the Petrograd Side merchants’ quarter. Nowadays a small chapel is located on the spot of demolished cathedral.
South of Troitskaya Square, along Petrovskaya Embankment, stands Peter the Great’s Cottage  – the only building survived to our time from the early days of city’s existence. The cottage was built in three days at the end of May 1703. It is a small single-storey wooden structure which did not originally have a stone foundation, nor were there stoves or flues in it. Peter the Great lived in the cottage only in the summer. To save the cottage from crumbling, it was covered with tent-shaped pavilions, a wooden one in the 18th century, and a stone one in the 19th century, which has survived to this day.
Opposite the cottage by the stairs descending to the Neva River, two striking sculptures stand on granite pedestals. These are the fairy-tale creatures Shih Tze  (the Chinese for lion), carved in granite and looking like a cross between a lion and a frog. In ancient China such sculptures guarded the entrances to palaces and burial vaults. These sculptures were erected here in 1907. They supplement the spectacular collection of sphinxes, gryphons and lions exhibited in St. Petersburg.
Further to the south, where the Bolshaya Nevka begins, the Aurora Cruiser  is permanently moored as a museum. It was the Aurora that in 1917 fired the blank shot that served as the signal to storm the Winter Palace. Having long been an icon of the revolution, it is mocked by some as “the world’s deadliest weapon”, that ruined the country for over 70 years with just one shot.
The large blue building in the style of Petrine Baroque opposite the Aurora Cruiser houses the Nakhimov Naval Cadet School  – a college for aspiring naval offices. Next to it is the Monument to Russian Marines .
Kuybysheva Street to the northeast of Troitskaya Square, contains at No. 4 the Museum of Political History of Russia . The main building of the museum was originally the town house of Matilda Kshesinskaya, the greatest ballet dancer of her era. The house was built in 1904-1906 by architect Alexander Gogen and is a good example of the Style Moderne. The Museum of Political History of Russia is devoted to political, economic and social life of Russian society of the 19th – 21st centuries. A remarkable part of the collection is an unique gathering of posters, bills and slogans of the end of the 19th and the 20th centuries; collection of propaganda porcelain of 1920s and gathering of revolutionary banners of 1917.
Next to the museum stands the Mosque  with two minarets decorated with multi-colored tiles. Its builder (architect Stepan Krichinsky, 1912) used the architectural forms of the Gur Emir Mausoleum of Tamerlane erected in Samarkand at the beginning of the 15th century.
Beyond the Mosque, Kronverkskiy Prospect crosses Kamennoostrovskiy Prospect and is then bordered on the south by Alexander Park , which was laid out in 1845.
The west side of the park contains many small pieces of modern sculpture. By Kamennoostrovskiy Prospect stands the Steregushchiy Monument  (1911), which is dedicated to the crew of the torpedo-boat “Steregushchiy”. During the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, this ship was seriously damaged in an unequal combat. The wounded sailors who remained alive decided to scuttle the ship, preferring death to captivity.
A Statue of Maxim Gorky  was erected on the centenary of his birth, at the intersection of Kamennoostrovskiy and Kronverkskiy Prospects. Gorky lived in the latter street, at No. 23, from 1914 to 1921.
Further west along Kronverkskiy Prospect, on the park side, is the Baltiyskiy Dom Theater , built in 1939. Next door to the theater is the Planetarium , opened in 1959. The Planetarium’s cupola is made of aluminum plates covered with several layers of fiberglass.
Spread almost next to the Baltiyskiy Dom Theater are the extensive grounds of the Zoo . The Zoo was founded in 1865 and includes over 400 kinds of animals.
Bolshoy Prospect , running northeast – southwest across the Petrograd Side, is among the most fashionable thoroughfares in the city. At the beginning of the prospect, next to Sportivnaya metro station, rises the magnificent Prince Vladimir Cathedral  – one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the second part of the 18th century. The first wooden church was laid down on this site in 1708. The present cathedral was completed by architect Ivan Starov in 1789, and was consecrated and named in honor of St. Prince Vladimir, who adopted Christianity for Russia. The cathedral is an interesting mixture of Baroque and Classical styles. The building is rectangular in shape and has five domes. Near the main entrance is a three-tiered bell tower over 57 meters high. The cathedral can accommodate 3000 worshipers at a time.
Across the street from the cathedral is the Yubileynyy Palace of Sports , hosting both sports events and pop and rock concerts. Nearby, across Bolshoy Prospect and on the south tip of Petrovskiy Island, lies the Petrovskiy Stadium  – home of local football team “Zenit”.