PARKS AND GARDENS
THE CENTRAL CULTURE AND LEISURE PARK
The Central Culture and Leisure Park was established on Yelagin Island in 1932.
In 1770 the island was presented by Catherine the Great to Ivan Yelagin, a prominent nobleman, before passing into Count Orlov’s possession in 1794. In 1817 Alexander I bought it back for the crown, ownership later being transferred to his mother Maria Fedorovna, widow of Paul I. An extensive landscape park was laid out on the island by the landscape architect Joseph Bush, and Carlo Rossi was commissioned to alter and extend the existing palace built by Yelagin, as well as to erect several new pavilions. Between 1818 and 1822 Rossi completely altered Yelagin Palace. His rectangular neo-Classical building stands on a raised base, stone steps flanked by a pair of sculptured lions leading up to a six-columned Corinthian entrance portico. After Maria Fedorovna’s death the palace was used to accommodate distinguished guests.
Today the Central Culture and Leisure Park draws Petersburgers and visitors to the city in large numbers to walk along its picturesque alleys.
In winter the park offers a wide range of leisure activities. From mid-December an open-air skating rink is open for visitors. Skates, skis and Finnish sledge are available for rent. In a snowy weather, dog-sledge races are organized.
THE MICHAEL GARDEN
The Michael Garden adjoins the Michael Palace (now the Russian Museum) from which the Garden takes its name. Throughout its long history it had been a formal French garden, a hunting reserve, and under the Empress Elizabeth it housed labyrinths and fountains. During the reign of Emperor Paul I the garden was used for horseback riding, and began to acquire its present features in the early 19th century. The construction of the Michael Castle and after that the Michael Palace, both of which border the garden, fixed the Michael Garden in its present boundaries.
The neo-Classical Michael Palace was built by Carlo Rossi between 1819 and 1825 for the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, younger brother of tsar Alexander I. When construction of the palace finished, the Michael Garden was turned into a landscape park. It is an interesting combination of two landscape styles: regular French around the edge, and English landscape in the center.
On the banks of the Moyka River, in the northeast edge of the garden, a small park pavilion-pier is located. It was built by architect Carlo Rossi in 1825, and consists of two similar structures connected by a colonnade. A granite terrace-pier in front of the pavilion is surrounded by cast-iron fence, made according to Carlo Rossi design.
THE MOSCOW VICTORY PARK
The Moscow Victory Park is located in the south of St. Petersburg, on Moskovskiy Prospect. It was laid down in 1945 to commemorate the victory in World War II.
The Park, which spreads over 68 hectares, is home to more than 100 kinds of trees and bushes, and includes features of formal and landscape planning, being decorated with ponds, canals, avenues and flower gardens. The centerpiece of the park is the “Heroes’ Alley”, which is lined with bronze busts of those Leningraders who either were twice awarded the title “Hero of the Soviet Union” or twice decorated with “Hero of Socialist Labor” medal. A statue of Georgiy Zhukov was unveiled for the 50th anniversary of the victory over Germany.
In winter time the park provides St. Petersburgers with a quiet expanse and a white world to be explored. An open-air skating rink starts working when the temperature falls below zero.
THE TAURIDE GARDEN
The Tauride Garden was laid out in 1783-1789 next to the Tauride Palace from which it took its name. This area was presented by Catherine the Great to her favorite, Prince Potemkin, the conqueror of the Crimea (then known as Tauris). The 30-hectare Tauride Garden was landscaped by architect Guild in true romantic style, designed to imitate nature, with ponds and canals and picturesque rolling landscape. Trees and shrubs were brought in especially from England.
From the 19th century the Tauride Garden has been the favorite for afternoon strolls and children’s play. Artists held exhibitions here and free concerts were held, while in winter there was sledding and skating on frozen ponds. Later in the 20th century sports facilities and attractions were put in.
THE YUSUPOV GARDEN
The Yusupov Garden was laid down in the mid 18th century in Yusupov estate, located between Fontanka River and Sadovaya Street. The garden was planned as a regular landscape park with a large pond in the center.
In 1790s the Yusupov Palace was built according to architect Qiacomo Quarenghi project in place of the wooden house located on the bank of the Fontanka River. The Palace belonged to senator Yusupov, but in 1810 was sold to the state treasury and given to communications engineers.
In 1863 by the order of Alexander II part of the Yusupov Garden facing Sadovaya Street was given to the maintenance of St. Petersburg Municipal Public Department, and was turned into public garden. In summers the Garden was open for strolls, and in winters it was used primarily as a skating rink.
Nowadays the Yusupov Garden is one of the popular green spots favored by the locals. It is a perfect place for ice skating, skiing, jogging, children’s play, Sunday walks, etc.