As a freelance architect, Kulvir Singh Virk travels the world with his work and has a passion for exploring new countries, particularly places with exceptional architecture. This article will look at St Petersburg, exploring a selection of the historic Russian city’s most famous attractions.
Founded in 1703, St Petersburg and its colourful, eclectic collection of buildings has evolved over the centuries, culminating in a kaleidoscope of architectural styles, from Baroque-style buildings and Neoclassical structures to Soviet architecture and Art Nouveau.
For those with an interest in architecture, no visit to St Petersburg would be complete without a trip to Peter’s Cabin, St Petersburg’s oldest structure, which once served as the city’s command centre.
Consecrated in 1780, Chesme Church is otherwise known as the Church of the Birth of St John the Baptist. Its striking pink and white wedding-cake façade is finished with Gothic turrets. Though the original interiors are long gone, Chesme Church is well worth a visit for its exterior alone.
Nicknamed ‘the Russian Versailles’, Grand Peterhof Palace is one of the best-preserved palace museums in the whole of Russia, featuring an excellent collection of antique furniture, as well as beautiful, cascading gardens showcasing a fountain dating back to the reign of Peter the Great.
Catherine Palace and Park is named after Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine I. The building was originally a modest two-storey construction commissioned by Peter in 1717, but it was subsequently transformed by Peter and Catherine’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth. Starting in 1743, Catherine Palace was reconstructed by four architects with the aim of competing with the Palace of Versailles. Completed in 1756, the resulting palace is almost 1 kilometre in circumference, featuring extravagantly decorated blue-and-white facades with gilded atlantes.
The House of Soviets is an imposing beast of a building that was constructed in the 1930s. The building was originally intended to serve as a new city centre, although this plan ultimately failed. Designed by architect Noi Trotsky, the House of Soviets is a symmetrical, no-frills structure that is used as office space today.
Constructed in the 1920s, the Red Banner Textile Factory is an imposing building composed of bold concrete and brick, with an almost ship-like design. The structure is a prime example of industrial Soviet architecture.
In glaring contrast, Singer House is an elegant example of Art Nouveau that once served as the Singer Sewing Machine Company’s Russian headquarters. Built on Nevsky Prospekt in the early 20th century using a metal frame, the landmark exemplifies a playful, ornamental style, incorporating curvaceous lines and exuberant copper statuary.
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