Fountain House: The First Aristocratic Palace of St. Petersburg

The Fountain House was built by the Sheremetevs in 1712 on a plot of marshland given to them by Peter I.  The original Fountain House was constructed of just wood, and resembled a dacha.  However, in the 1740’s, Petr Sheremetev decided to expand and embellish the home, transforming it into a palace.

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Gazprom’s Tower: Civil Society in the Venice of the North

Alex McGrath (Russian Studies Program, College of William and Mary)

This is the cover of Boris Vishnevsky's book. Published in 2011, it includes all the articles he wrote for the newspaper "Novaya Gazyeta" between 2006 and 2011

For Abstract of the Article in Russian Click Here. Чтобы прочитать краткое изложение статьи по-русски, нажмите кнопкой мышки здесь.

The romantic skyline of Saint Petersburg is in danger. The classic precipices of the city are under threat of being overshadowed: Peter and Paul’s Fortress, Saint Isaacs Cathedral, the Admiralty, Smolny Cathedral[1]. The tallest building in this “Venice of the North” is soon to be a gargantuan, spiraling office building. And it won’t just be the tallest, but FOUR TIMES as tall as the closest competitor. In a city characterized by its 18th-19th century feel and it’s horizontal focus, the tower has the potential to change the style of the city forever and “bring St. Petersburg into the 21st century”, or to simply ruin hundreds of years of careful urban planning. That is, unless the people of Saint Petersburg can come together to prevent the construction of the gas-o-scraper (Vishnevsky “Gazoskreb” 21)[2]. The opposition groups are many: political parties, Russian NGOs, architects, journalists, celebrities, UNESCO. Their adversaries: the city administration and the oil and natural gas behemoth Gazprom. The battle is being waged in the courts, in the media, and in the streets. In a country where western style democracy, characterized by its individual freedoms and competitive politics, has yet to take hold, the debate over the construction of the Gazprom Tower has inspired an enormous outpouring of political involvement at the grassroots level.

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Rethinking The Legacy of Unofficial Art in St. Petersburg: The Case of Pushkinkaya-10 Art Center

Monika Bernotas (Russian Studies Program, College of William and Mary)

For Abstract of the Article in Russian Click Here. Чтобы прочитать краткое изложение статьи по-русски, нажмите кнопкой мышки здесь.

One must really have the desire to find the Pushkinskaya-10 Art Center if they are to visit it. Located in an otherwise inconspicuous courtyard, off Ligovsky Prospect, which runs parallel to the street of its original name, it hides, tucked behind the bright signs of the downtown area surrounding the Moskovsky railway station. The residents of the center do not make it easy for visitors to navigate, either, offering an overwhelming variety of galleries and points of interest to visit. In short, the Pushkinskaya-10 Art Center is not for the faint of heart, yet as an art space, having survived over twenty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it remains to remind us of the necessity of physical space in the creative process for artists.

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St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Dominating the skyline of St. Petersburg, St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskii sobor) is an unmistakable landmark: its gold dome and proximity to the Neva River and Nevskii Prospekt make it hard to miss. The interior of the second largest Russian Orthodox church is richly decorated with exotic marbles and designs from both Europe and Russia. [Read more…]

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

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

For Abstract of the Article in Russian Click Here. Чтобы прочитать краткое изложение статьи по-русски, нажмите кнопкой мышки здесь.


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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