Besides the Palace Square, which is the main square of the city of St. Petersburg, there are several other famous squares in St. Petersburg that tourists will visit during their travel to Russia. One of which is the Arts Square, which filled the gap between the Nevsky Prospect and the Field of Mars. This square is one of the cultural centers of St. Petersburg that houses several major St. Petersburg attractive places on tour to Russia, including the State Russian Museum and Mikhailovsky Theatre.
Ploshchad Iskusstv or Arts Square and the whole area around it was the architectural masterwork of the one and only Carlo Rossi, who was one of the most prominent Italian architects in St. Petersburg. Although Rossi himself didn’t construct every building around this square, every architect who has worked on a project around this square respected his masterpiece and tried not to overshadow his masterpiece. Before Carlo Rossi commissioned to build one of his grand masterpieces in this area, the land was completely undeveloped and was used as a hunting ground for Empress Anna Ioannovna. However, Francesco Rastrelli had created a garden maze on the land in 1711. Not many architects had allowed working on a large area and created an architectural complex. When Carlo Rossi had received the offer to develop the land between Nevsky Prospect and the Field of Mars, he immediately accepted. Although his task was to transfer the whole area from Field of Mars to Nevsky Prospect, his main task was to construct a palace for Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. Rossi completed the Mikhailovsky Palace with two different, yet elegant façade in 1825, which later became the most prominent building on the square and turned to the largest Russian art museum, the Russian State Museum. However, Carlo Rossi’s work had continued since he had to transfer the whole area. He created the streets around the palace and later planted a square in front of the palace to link the Mikhailovsky Ulitsa with Nevsky Prospect. He also designed each façade of the building around the square to create a harmony in his design. However, most of the buildings around the square were completed by other architects, such as the Mikhailovsky Theatre, which called the Maly Theatre of Opera and Ballet back then. Rossi’s last touch on the area was designing a small park around the square, which also laid out by other architects.
Although by housing the Mikhailovsky Palace, Mikhailovsky Theater, and several other major buildings, the Arts Square was already important, everything had changed for the square since the Russian State Museum was opened in Mikhailovsky Palace in 1898. The Ethnographic Museum was also opened on the easter wing of the palace as an individual museum, which made the Arts Square host two great museums instead of one. In the 1910s, it was planned to erect a statue of Alexander II at the center of the square. Still, the second world war and then the October Revolution had prevented it. Instead, a half-century later, a statue of the famous poet, Alexander Pushkin was erected at that site. Mikhail Anikushin created the Pushkin monument. After the October Revolution, Bolsheviks named the square after German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle, and it was only in 1940 that the square acquired its current name as Arts Square.
The Arts Square and its small park have become an excellent platform for street artists, especially musicians, to perform their music in recent years. The Square has been hosting a winter festival since the beginning of the 21st century. The Shostakovich St. Petersburg Academic Philharmonia with the help from State Russian Museum, The Mikhailovsky Theatre, The Grand Hotel Europe, and Theatre of Musical Comedy have been hosting the Arts Square winter festival between December and January, in which many Russian and foreign classical musicians gathered in St. Petersburg and put up a show for the people. This festival is one of the many festivals in St. Petersburg that has been offered to tourists who have decided to travel to Russia in this season and see the beauty of tour to Russia in winter. You can also learn more about Winter in Russia on our weblog if you’re interested to see what are the benefits of Russia tours in cold seasons.
Mikhailovsky Palace (State Russian Museum)
Emperor Paul I put aside funds to build a palace for his youngest son, Mikhail Pavlovich. However, before he can start the project, he died, but his oldest son and successor, Alexander I had decided to build the palace anyway. The Mikhailovsky Palace was the center of Rossi’s grand plan of transferring the whole area from the Nevsky Prospect to the Field of Mars, including the street around the palace and the square that we know today as the Arts Square. Even before the time that State Russian Museum was established inside the Mikhailovsky Palace, it identified as the gem of the area. Still, the remarkable collection of the Alexander III Russian Museum (Later Russian State Museum) increased the level of its importance in the area. The State Russian Museum is one of the major attractions of St. Petersburg in Russia tour, which many tourists would visit it during their travel to Russia. However, the Mikhailovsky Palace is the headquarter of this museum, which means there are several other branches around the city, which you can visit on your tour to Russia. Each one of the Russian State Museum branches, such as the Marble Palace or the St. Michael’s Castle, considered as one of the major attractions of Russia in the tour to St. Petersburg, which we at the Star Travel Group recommend on our tour to Russia.
Mikhailovsky Theater is another famous building and cultural center on Arts Square. Though it was part of the grand plans of Rossi for the Arts Square and the area in general, Alexander Brullov was the architect, who reconstructed the theater. However, he had designed a simple neoclassical style for his exterior to keep the focus of visitors into the Mikhailovsky Palace. Still, he used all his imagination and talent to design the interior of place that soon become one of the prominent theater halls in St. Petersburg and competes with its rivals, such as Mariinsky Theater and AlexandrinskyTheatre.
Yet, Mikhailovky Palace and Mikhailovsky Theater are not the only significant buildings inside this square. You can also find Saint Petersburg Philharmonia, Jacquot House, Vielgorsky House, Kutuzov House, Lazarev House, The Grand Hotel Europe, and the residential building of Church of St. Catherine on this square on your travel to Russia. If you are eager to learn more about top Russia attractive places and their history, you can always visit our weblog, in which you can learn about our tips and pieces of advice about travel to Russia in general as well.