Senatskaya is one of the main and oldest squares in St. Petersburg. Included in most excursion routes around the city.It is associated with important historical events and is adjacent to outstanding architectural monuments. It is on Senate Square that the famous monument to Peter I on horseback is located, which has become one of the symbols of Peter.
The history of the square
The formation of the square is associated with the construction of the Admiralty . At first it was part of an earthen embankment in front of the fortified shipyard, later it turned into a public urban space.
Under Peter I, the area around Senate Square was actively built up. First, a wooden St. Isaac’s Cathedral appeared next to the Admiralty, and already in the 19th century, the buildings of the Synod and the Senate were added to the architectural ensemble. The Bronze Horseman was installed back in 1782.
Interesting fact! In 1825, it was at this place that the famous uprising of the Decembrists took place, when about 3,000 military men refused to swear allegiance to Nicholas I.
In 1874, in front of the Admiralty, the magnificent Alexander Garden was laid out , of which the Senate Square became part. Trees and shrubs were planted here, flowerbeds and lawns were formed.
Only in 1890, the space at the monument to Peter I was freed from plantings and paved with cobblestones. This part of the garden became a square again.
Attractions of the Senate Square
Senate Square is located in the historical part of St. Petersburg. On the one hand it has a wide exit to the Neva, on the other three it is limited by historical buildings. The finishing touch of this architectural ensemble is the monument to Peter I, or “The Bronze Horseman”.
The Admiralty is the first shipbuilding yard of the Russian Empire in the Baltic. This is a strict classicist building, the facades of which are richly decorated with bas-reliefs on a nautical theme.
The spire crowned with the figure of a ship acts as the vertical dominant of the structure. For many years it has been considered a symbol of St. Petersburg along with the sculpture “The Bronze Horseman” on Senate Square.
Interesting fact! Not all the bas-reliefs of the Admiralty have survived to this day. In the 19th century, the church considered some of them “pagan” and demanded that they be removed from the facades. Instead, there were bas-reliefs in the form of anchors, cannons and cannonballs.
Over the years of its existence, the building of the Admiralty has been repeatedly rebuilt and changed its purpose.
At first it was a shipyard with many workshops, a forge, a warehouse for ship models and drawings. At the beginning of the 19th century, the building was reconstructed and divided into two buildings – administrative and craft, with workshops. In the 30s of the XX century, a laboratory for the development of rocket engines was temporarily located in the Admiralty.
Since 2012, the historic building has been occupied by the Main Command of the Russian Navy.
Senate and Synod Buildings
The Senate and Synod buildings border the Senate Square on the east side. They are connected by a massive triumphal arch, therefore they are often perceived as a single whole.
Maintained in the style of late classicism, the facades are decorated with rows of snow-white columns, sculptures, numerous bas-reliefs and high-reliefs.
Since 2008, one building has been occupied by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, which “moved” there from Moscow, the second – by the Presidential Library. Boris N. Yeltsin
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Isaac’s Cathedral borders the Senate Square from the south. Monumental and structurally complex, it is one of the city’s vertical dominants. It is one of the largest domed buildings in the world, its height is 101.5 m, width – about 98 m, length – 111.2 m.
The first St. Isaac’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1707. It was a modest wooden building that was formerly occupied by the drafting barn of the Admiralty. After 10 years, a stone cathedral was laid, which was then rebuilt twice and radically changed its appearance. The last project took 40 years to complete!
The modern St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a symbiosis of classicism, antiquity and eclecticism. In the plan it is an elongated rectangle. The central part has the shape of a square, which protrudes slightly outside the main contour.
The attention is drawn to a massive cylindrical drum, decorated with a colonnade and crowned with a gilded dome. There are 4 bell towers in the corners of the cathedral. The facades are decorated with porticoes with granite columns, each weighing 114 tons.
The sculpture, popularly called “The Bronze Horseman”, is the main decoration of the Senate Square in St. Petersburg.
The equestrian figure of Peter I is installed on a massive granite pedestal . The composition is very dynamic – the horse is reared, and the emperor’s arm is stretched out in a patronizing gesture and his head is slightly turned. The pose of Peter I is relaxed. He acts not as a conqueror and commander, but as a creator and benefactor.
The sculptor E. Falcone became the author of the statue, but his student Marie-Anne Collot worked on the sketch of the head. It was her version that was approved by Catherine II.
The construction of the monument took two years. It took a lot of time to deliver and process the granite block for the pedestal; the casting of the statue almost ended in tragedy. But despite all the difficulties, the Bronze Horseman took his place.
Also on the Senate Square is the Alexander Garden, which covers an area of 9 hectares. This is a great place to stroll after architectural sightseeing. There are many monuments and benches for relaxation, a fountain works in the warm season, and bright flower beds and lush tree crowns delight the eye.