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Entries / Palace Square

Palace Square

Categories / Architecture/Architectural Monuments/Architectural Ensembles
Categories / City Topography/Urban Network/Squares

PALACE SQUARE, St. Petersburg's main square, the traditional location for city-wide festivities, and is part of the central square system of the Neva River's left bank. It received its name from the Winter Palace, whose southern facade overlooks the square. The area of the square totals 8 hectares. The square was originally a part of the Admiralteysky Meadow, bordering the bastions of the Admiralty Tower on the west, and Lugovaya Street (Millionnaya Street) on the east. In 1765, the Palace Square's southern border assumed a semicircular contour as part of a planned project (architect A.V. Kvasov), and in 1779-84 was built up with four buildings (architect Y.M. Velten) along its periphery. In 1819-29, the Palace Square was subject to complete reconstruction according to a project designed by architect C.I. Rossi, gaining world significance as a monument to the art of city-planning. Rossi delineated the square's southern border by erecting the General Staff and Ministry of War building (the complex included previous constructions as well), and that of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The buildings share a common bow-shaped facade, 580 metres long, and are connected by the triumphal Arch of the General Staff (28 metres high), which is surmounted by the Chariot of Glory (sculptors S.S. Pimenov and V.I. Demut-Malinovsky). The chariot's sharp turn follows the direction of Bolshaya Morskaya Street, giving an unexpected visual effect upon entering Palace Square from the Nevsky Prospect side. The austere outline of the Empire-style architecture emphasises the Winter Palace's sumptuous baroque style, creating a perfect match between the building's architectural articulation and the scale and rhythm of the square. The centre of Palace Square is marked with the Alexander Column, introduced in 1834. The column strikes the final chord of the square's monumentality. The square's eastern side is occupied by the Guards Corps Headquarters, a building in the style of late Classicism (1837-43, architect A.P. Brullov), on the previous site of the Exercirhaus' (1797-98, architect V. Brenna). At the corner of Nevsky Prospect, there is a Military-Topographic Depot (1845-46, architect I.D. Chernik), which is adjacent to the General Staff building. In the 19th century and the early 20th century, Palace Square was the place for military parades. The square was the setting of the tragic events of January 9, 1905 known as "Bloody Sunday"; it was also here that Emperor Nicholas II ordered general mobilisation in response to the outbreak of the war against Germany on July 19, 1914. After October 1917, the square hosted military parades and demonstrations. In 1977, the central part of the square was paved with stone blocks. On August 20, 1991, a spontaneous ralley was held on the square, gathering 100,000 participants protesting the activity of the so-called State Committee for a State of Emergencies (GKChP). The square was overhauled on the occasion of St. Petersburg's 300th Anniversary.

References: Серпокрыл С. М. Дворцовая площадь: Люди, события, зодчество. Л., 1973; Бузинов В. М. Дворцовая площадь: Неформал. путеводитель. СПб., 2001.

Y. M. Piryutko.

Brenna Vikenty Franzevich (Vicenzo)
Bryullov Boris Pavlovich
Chernik Ivan Denisovich
Demut-Malinovsky Vasily Ivanovich
Felten Yury (Georg Friedrich) Matveevich
Kvasov Alexey Vasilievich
Nicholas II, Emperor
Pimenov Stepan Stepanovich
Rossi Carl Ivanovich (Carlo Giovanni)

Bolshaya Morskaya St./Saint Petersburg, city
Dvortsovaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city
Millionnaya St./Saint Petersburg, city
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city

Серпокрыл С. М. Дворцовая площадь: Люди, события, зодчество. Л., 1973
Бузинов В. М. Дворцовая площадь: Неформал. путеводитель. СПб., 2001

The subject Index
Winter Palace
Admiralty Fortress
Main Headquarters
Ministry of War
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Alexander Column
Guards Corps Staff