The Marine Façade and the Petersburg Myth in Post-Soviet Russia

Sophia Kosar (Russian Studies Program, College of William and Mary)

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St. Petersburg has always been Russia’s “window to the West.” At the time of its construction in the eighteenth century, Peter the Great envisioned a city encompassing the greatest architectural achievements of Western Europe: the romantic island-canal systems of Venice and Amsterdam, luxurious baroque architecture, and a court rivaling that of the French in power and elegance. However, the city has not always lived up to its intended purpose—to prove that Russia could leave behind her backwards ways and enter modernity with the rest of Europe (Figes 10). Thus the Petersburg myth was born—its foundations lying in this discrepancy between the idealized city and its real counterpart. The myth, which expresses Russia’s complicated experience of modernity, continues to be prevalent in contemporary St. Petersburg. The Marine Façade development project embodies the Petersburg myth and the three-hundred-year-old dichotomy between dreams and reality that lies at the heart of the city.

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Works Cited: The Marine Facade (Kosar)

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