Looking down on the Neva River’s south bank and Palace Square, the Winter Palace is undoubtedly one of the most well known landmarks in St. Petersburg. Over the centuries, this imposing building has played a very significant part in the cultural and political life of the city. Some sections of this early 18th century building have been renovated and can be explored by visitors.
Anichkov Palace was amongst the first buildings constructed on Nevsky Prospekt, one of the busiest main roads in St. Petersburg. At the time of its construction in 1741, on the orders of Empress Elizabeth, this tree lined area was in the outer reaches of St. Petersburg. It was a present for the Empress’s lover, Aleksey Razumovsky. When he died, his brother sold it to Catherine the Great, who in turn gave it to her lover, Prince Grigoriy Potemkin, as a present.
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Since the late 14th century, a church has stood at the southwest corner of Sobornaya Ploshchad. The first was a wooden church, constructed by Vasily I, which was rebuilt over five years in the late 15th century by Ivan III. Initially, the Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral was the personal chapel of the royal family. After Ivan the Terrible took power, it was extended and the Archangel Gabriel Chapel was added. This was so he could watch services in the main church, which he was forbidden to enter under Orthodox rules. These rules stated that a person who had married more than three times was not allowed to enter the main body of a church. The venerated icons of Theophanes the Greek, the great artist, are housed here.
Since 1924, the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich (better known as Lenin) has been lying in state in a mausoleum at the Kremlin wall. This is despite a declaration by the founder of the Soviet Union that he wanted to be buried beside his mother in St Petersburg. There seems to be a perpetual queue to view his body, constantly supervised by guards, which forms at the northwest corner of Red Square. Cameras are forbidden – drop yours at the State History Museum’s left luggage office. After you exit the mausoleum, the Kremlin wall itself is worthy of examination, as a number of prominent communists are buried here.