Arts Square in Saint Petersburg: a delight for architecture admirers

Maria Selezneva | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Just at the stone’s throw away from great places of Saint Petersburg, such as Summer Garden, Field of Mars, and Anichkov Bridge, there is a pure treasure. I am talking about Arts Square, which is a delight for those who admire architecture more than anything in the urban landscape. Actually, there, you can find not only history and buildings but also a unique spirit and synergy with nature.

When and how it was established

© istock/Olga355

It all began in the 19th century when a famous Italian architect Carlo Rossi was commissioned to work on the project, as long as the square is located in front of Mikhailovsky Palace. This building was initially thought to be a residence for Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia, the son of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Actually, the latter ordered to build it, but he was killed in Saint Michael's Castle (not to be confused with Mikhailovsky Palace), also called Engineers’ Castle. His eldest son, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, finished his father’s order.

Thus, Mikhailovsky Palace, officially opened in 1825, became the major building in the future ensemble, as long as it was the first one planned to be built on this wasteland. Later on, other edifices were constructed nearby, and facades were adjusted to match Mikhailovsky Palace. In 1827, the formation of a future English landscape garden close to the area in front of the palace began. During that time, the square got its name - Mikhailovskaya Square.   

Arts Square over time

© istock/yulenochekk

In the second half of the 19th century, Arts Square was included into the route of a horse-drawn tram, inaugurated in Saint Petersburg. Some changes were made to Mikhailovsky Park Garden, near the square. At the end of that century, Mikhailovsky Palace was turned into a famous Russian Museum, one of the biggest in the whole country, and well-known nowadays (by the way, it also has a branch in Málaga, Spain). Eastern wing of the building became Russian Museum of Ethnography, now housing more than 500K unique items.

Unfortunately, the original ensemble invented by Carlo Rossi failed to be saved, as a lot of things changed. Meanwhile, at the beginning of the last century, Mikhailovsky Park Garden became a favorite place for walking and having a good time among intellectuals, schoolchildren, students, etc. In 1957, just in the very center of the park, a monument to Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, the greatest Russian poet and author of all time, was erected. Many considered it to be a perfect choice for a place with such an inspiring name, as Arts Square, given to it in 1952 (starting from 1923, it was also called Lassalle Square). It commemorates the fact that some important cultural institutions are located in the neighborhood. Besides, memorial Apartment Museum of Joseph Brodsky, where a poet and Nobel laureate lived, is also situated there.

Finding yourself at Arts Square in Saint Petersburg might be exciting if you are a beautiful things lover. This square is a delight for all architecture admirers. So, if one day you are in Nevsky Avenue, heading to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, just turn to the right near ‘Gostiny Dvor’ metro station. You will be surprised to see this gem.

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