As soon as you name the main and most famous Petersburg street, the magnificent Prospekt perspective comes to your mind. In your memory appears it’s ending with the tower and spire of the Admiralty, where the Prospekt develops into the expanse of Admiralty Prospekt, the Admiralty Garden and Palace Square. Always attractive is the Kazansky Cathedral, festive looks the garden around the monument to Catherine II and one cannot but remember the exquisite view of the Square at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. The other buldings come to memory with more efforts and by chance. Some people are attracted by the face of the House-of Books, others pay attention to Count Stroganov’s Palace, or are drawn to the unique charm of the former bank building near “Aurora” cinema theatre. The Anichkov Bridge with its sculpture groups by P.K.Klodt and the adjoining buildings of the Anichkov and Prince Beloselsky-Belozersky’s Palaces come back to one’s mind rather frequently.
Today unsophisticated citizens and visitors of St.Petersburg regard Nevsky Prospect as a model of perfect building along the city’s thoroughfare by the architects of the past. Meanwhile, the perfection in this case is far from being undisputable. The first thing disappointing many new-comers is narrowness of the Prospect, especially near the Admiralty and in the part stretching from the Moscow Railway Station to the Alexander Nevsky Laura. The latter part is called Old Nevsky Prospekt, as if it is considered to be a separate street. The second striking feature is sharp discrepancy between the two just mentioned parts as to their proportions and architectural face. One of them – stretching from the Moscow Railway Station Square to the Admiralty
- is festive and showy, while another – extending to the Alexander Nevsky Laura – is ordinary, everyday. But the main shortcoming is lack of unity in the Prospekt architectural style so typical for the famous St.Petersburg ensembles. The Prospekt buildings were erected at different times and according to varied designs that did not take a style and number of storeys of neighbouring houses into account. Many buildings were repeatedly rebuilt (with addition of storeys) and even generally reconstructed. So, the evidential disharmony between the architectural styles of Nevsky Prospekt had been formed during its historical development.
Nevsky Prospekt had not become a thoroughfare of the capital all at once. In 1710 and later, when the centre of St.Petersburg was on the Petrograd Side and then – on the Vasilyevsky Island, it was a “Great Perspective Road” stretching from the Admiralty Yard to the old Novgorod Highway to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery (a head of the Russian Orthodox Church that ruled the Monastery was in Novgorod at that time). The highway led from Novgorod to Nienschantz Fortress (Okhta) approximately along Ligovsky Prospekt of today. In Petrine times captured Swedes made a cutting through the forest and then paved it. Here and there along the “Great Perspective Road” wooden or clay-walled houses were scattered in the forest, a long wooden bridge crossed the Fontanka and marshy low ground nearby. The road’s length was 2150 sazhens, that is 4.5 km. The official name “Nevsky Perspective Road” came into being in April, 1738, and lately in XVIII-th century it was called “Nevsky Prospekt”. Under the reign of Catharine I the ordinance maintaining a ban on building of wooden houses on Nevsky Prospekt had been issued.
Houses on the Prospekt were being erected by different owners. There were parishes, bank and trade companies, rich nobility and merchants among them. The street became lined with numerous tenement houses where hotels, furnished rooms and leashold flats, or appartments for renting were situated. Every owner of a site built in accordance with his own taste and money. Specially splended buildings would appear there rather rarely. The stone adorment of Nevsky Prospekt as a whole is modest, unpretentious and demonstrates the history of use of natural stone in urban development.
In XVIII-th – early XIX-th centuries natural stone as a material for external decoration of buildings was seldom and served truly utilitarian purposes: plinthes of houses were faced with it; steps, balustrades, banisters, fences, window-platbands, bases and stylobates of columns were cut of it. The type of stone most frequently used was platy limestone called Putilovsky, Volkhovsky, or Tosnensky depending on the place of its quarrying. “Finnish marine” granite, that is red and pink rapakivi granite quarried on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, or grey Serdobol Granite, was less common. Sculptures adorning buildings such as the Admiralty, for example, were made of tufa. Putilovo Slab was used for pedestals of the sculptures. The stately, majestic Kazansky Cathedral* was the only exclusion among the buildings of Nevsky Prospekt of that time characterized by simple stone decoration.
The buildings of XVIII-th and the first half of XIX-th centuries are hardly preserved or have come down to us as rebuilt constructions. An example of use of stone at that time can be seen in the Roman Catholic Church of St.Catherine (Nevsky Pr., NN 3234) erected by A.Rinaldi in 1761-1783 to the design of J.-B.Yallin de la Mothe. Here rapakivi granite is used for the plinth, stylobates and bases of the pillars supporting the high portal arch resembling the arch of the “New Holland” also built after the design of Vallen de la Mothe. In a similar manner stone was used in decoration of the facade of the Great Gostiny Dvor - Stalls for merchants, or Shopping arcade (Nevsky Pr., N 35). This department store was built to the same architect’s design. However, unlike the case of the Roman Catholic Church decoration, pillar stylobates along all the front of the Gostiny Dvor are made of Putilovo Limestone slabs, whereas round bases of the pillars resting on them are cut of rapakivi granite.
*) It will be discussed in detail furthermore.
In addition to the Roman Catholic Church of St.Catherine standing in Nevsky Prospekt (NN 22-24) there are other church buildings of XVIII-XIX centuries here. One of them is the Lutheran Church of St.Peter. It was erected back in 1730 and rebuilt in 1832-1838 by the architect A.P.Bryullov. Simple decoration of the Lutheran Church represented by a socle and high steps made of red rapakivi granite is supplemented with two statues personifying the apostles Peter and Paul. They are carved of white Italian marble and installed on high granite (rapakivi granite) pedestals.
The marble sculpture of the Apostle Peter at the Lutheranian church (Nevsky Pr., NN 22-24).
Of special interest is the stone decoration of the Moscow Railway Station situated in the Uprising Square (former Square of the Church of the Sign) that divides Nevsky Prospect into two uneven parts.
The earlier, now the central; building of the Moscow (former Nickolayevsky) Railway Station was built in 1848-1851 by R.A.Zhelya-zevich after the design of K.A.Ton. Manifesting the idea of the unity of the two Russian capitals, K.A.Ton had designed the Petersburg (former Nickolayevsky) Station in Moscow in the same architectural style of the Italian Renaissance. Principles of the interior planning and office premises layout in both railway stations are alike. In either case the recent innovation of that time was used: platforms with a metal roofing supported by open-work iron rafters were placed between side wings arranged in such a way that together with the main building they formed an extended open rectangle. Even the colour of the facades were alike. The idea of the architectural unity of the two main stations of the Petersburg-Moscow railway line was maintained in every subsequent additional building and rebuilding, interior hall restoration in 1950-1960 (to the design of the architect V.V.Kuznetsov) among them. It is particularly expressed in forms, air-spaces and decorations of the smart halls built on the place of the platforms. The same types of natural rocks were used for decorating of those halls. The Moscow building of today resembles its original construction to a greater extent than the Petersburg station which was supplemented with side wings and where in 1959-1969, a new building with an entrance to a metro station had been inserted into the railway station square from the Ligovsky Prospect side.
The outer decoration of the Moscow Railway Station with natural rocks is very modest. The stone is represented by Putilovo Limstone Slabs. They are used only for facing of the basement along the whole building perimeter. The pavement in front of the main doorway is flagged with thick quadrangles of red rapakivi granite (two front and two back lines of the slabs) and with red granite from the Syyskuunsary Island (three intermediate lines of the slabs). The low round pedestals cut out of rapakivi granite are used as the basis of the open-work cast-iron lanterns in front of the entrance. Natural stone is abundant in the interior decoration of both the old and reconstructed halls. It is combined with ceramic tiles of the floors, plaster of the walls and exquisite details made of artificial marble or stucco moulding. Directly from the railway station square the old staircases with steps of red granite (rapakivi granite) lead up to the first hall. This flight of steps is framed with slabs of gray marble in the side piers separating the walls. The space of the wide first hall is divided by the ten thick pylons. They are faced with white-grey-pink slabs of the Gasgan Marble that is quarried in Uzbekistan. The capitals of the intricate order are alabaster, the bases are made of monotonous brown marble with faint pattern. The 9 similar pilasters decorate the side walls of the hall.
The wide staircase covered with slabs of the grey Ural marble leads up to the second light hall with white walls. The floor of the second hall is decorated with geometric design set up as a coloured mosaic of different marbles: white and grey rock from the Urals, pink Gazgan Marble, greenish-pink one from the deposit “Burovshchina” on the Baikal Lake. The pilasters in this hall are made of white marble. From here we descend the grey marble steps into the enormous grand hall. The huge back wall of the hall is faced with purple-red and sealing-wax-red slabs of the tuff from the Artik deposit in Armenia. All the floor is covered with rows of granite slabs: pink-grey from the deposit Vozrozhdenie (Renaissance) and reddish-black from Kamennogorsk (Stone-mountain) deposit. The side walls are entirely faced with white limestone slabs and rest, as on the solid foundation, on the squat thick pilasters assembled out of monoliths of black spectrolite (iridescent labrodorite). The walls of staircases at the entrance to the metro are faced with spotted-banded grey-black stone.
The stone decor of the halls of the Petersburg Station in Moscow is similar. The main difference is that walls of the second hall housing booking-offices are faced with the Artik Tuff.
It is known that lately in XIX-th - early in XX-th centuries the Petersburg architecture experienced the “stone boom” (applying the modern term). At that time old banks were being reconstructed and new buildings of banks and bank companies, corporations or houses were being erected. Their facades were richly decorated with various stones. Almost a half of numerous metropolitan banks and bank houses were situated on Nevsky Prospekt.
The most important Russian bank - the Russian-Asian Bank was located in N 62 that was built according to B.I.Girshovich’s design and under his direction in 1896-1898. Stylistic elements of Renaissance architecture were used there. The pompous majestic facade of this four-storey building is faced with light-grey Radom Sandstone and is decorated with stone ornaments and reliefs. The asymmetrically placed pediment is crowned with a head of a youth in a helmet with small wings. It is the Roman God Mercury - the patron of Trade. Below two caduceuses, or Mercury’s batons wreathed with serpents, are represented in relief form. With such a baton, the God of Trade restrained fighters and beligerent people. Both a caduceus and Mercury’s head are usual emblems of buildings of trading firms and banks.
The upper stories of this edifice are faced with sandstone slabs having smooth, or ribbed, wavy surfaces. The facing of the ground floor is represented by rusticated slabs dotted with large round recesses resulting from an instrument that had been used in the chipping. The colour of the stone decoration of the building of the former Russian-Asian Bank is monotonous light-grey. Unfortunately, today in our city sandstone is painted much as if it were plaster. It is caused by doubtful reasoning to make care of the stone easier. The facade of N 62 is just an example of such painting of natural rock.
In 1896-1898 the architect C.A.Brzhozovsky had built the edifice for the second capital bank in Russia – the International Commercial Bank (Nevsky Pr., N 38). The design of the building is plain, simplified; it is enlightened by clarity of outline. The facade throughout the height is covered with stone – Revel dolomitic Marble that is also called Estlyandsky. It represents a light-grey homogeneous, massive rock with even, smooth surfaces of dolomite cleavage which gleam and glitter. As a consequence the marble is sparkling in the bright sun. Forms of processing of the facing slabs on the building facade are very diverse: here are alternating large- and finedotted surfaces or wavy and smooth ones. The mode of the using of slabs differently finished, results in the wonderful playing of light and shade that makes the face of the building diversified and brings life to its design. The plinth and portals of the two entrances decorated with polished dark-red rapakivi granite stand out effectively against the light background of the walls.
In 1901-1902 a 5-storey building for the department of the Moscow Merchant Bank was erected to the design of L.N.Benois (N 46 that houses the “Neva” restaurant). It is embellished with natural stone through the height of 2 lower floors. The stone is the decorative bright-red Valaamsky gneissoid Granite, more precisely, it is the granite variety quarried on the Syyskuunsaary Island. At the bottom, the facing slabs are perfectly polished, so that the colour and pattern of the stone are clearly seen, but at the top they are only rough hewn and have dull lustre and look darker.
In 1910 the house at N 1 on Nevsky Prospect was rebuilt to accommodate the St.Petersburg Private Commercial Bank that was a pioneer of institutions of that type. The architect V.P.Tsaydler applied porphyry pink granite to facing of the two lower floors. Besides, he used the beautiful grey with crimson-red spots gneiss from the deposit Tiurula; those spots are formed by large round grains of almandine garnet. The Tiurula Gneiss is one of the best decorative facing stones, but simultaneously it is the most difficult-to-machine rock because of its heterogeneity. The polished slabs of this stone decorate the stately portal of the main entrance into the building and emphasize vertical partitions of the walls (it is a cause for regret that this first-rate facing stone is dirty and almandine crystals are hardly visible). Two hermae (hermeses) are fixed above the portal. The key-stones of the window arches are adorned with masks depicting a head of a handsome youth – the God Mercury; they seem to be stucco moulding.
The three top storeys of this gaily decorated building are faced with light-grey Radom Sandstone having both smooth, and punched surfaces, the last one is characterized by round pits from the tools which had been used at finishing. The rounded corner of the edifice opening the panorama of Nevsky Prospect stands out due to Ionic columns uniting two upper storeys. The roof is decorated with two turrets where you can see statues standing in niches. The figures seem to be of stucco moulding. The stone used for the decor of the building varies in hues. It changes from grey to yellowish and even brownish. The variation of coloration of such a type is specific to the Radom Sandstone. The yellowish sandstone that altered with time to rich yellow and yellow-brown varieties, or became more bright in colour, was valued higher. The uniform grey sandstone was originally almost white, but in urban conditions, it quickly absorbed soot and dirt and acquired dirty-grey colour.
For the Siberian Bank in 1910, the architects B.I.Girshovich and M.S.Lyalevich built an edifice in Neoclassical style (Nevsky Pr., N 44). From the base to the top it is faced with grey granite finished in such a way that the slabs have the pointed surface. Ornament in piers between upper windows and two male figures on both sides of the window of the attic on the top of the building are too cut of the same granite.
One of the most imposing stone building on Nevsky Prospekt is N 12 that housed the Bank Company “Junker and Co”. The architect V.I.Van-der-Gyukht built it in Neoclassical style in 1910 (more precisely, he had rebuilt an old premise facade). The huge windows, columns, statues, ornaments, as well as the red Swedish granite that had been chosen by the architect for the facing, make the building gaily decorated. The basement and portals are embellished with polished granite. Two round pillars with elaborate cast-iron capitals flank the doorway. The finished stone is rich bright-red. The facing of the walls is made of the unpolished granite having smooth surface and deep pink colour that is lighter than the colour of the polished stone. The slabs used for the revetment of the ground floor are as thick as 30 cm. The building faced with the red granite represents the appropriate colourful addition to the dark-grey bulk of the edifice housing “Aeroflot” (Air Fleet) that is located almost across the street. Unfortunately, Nevsky Prospect is rather narrow in this part, and does not permit one to survey properly such an interesting stone construction as N 12 is.
In N 7/9, now a booking office of “Aeroflot”, the St.Petersburg Trade Bank, or the Bank Hause of V.I.Wavelberg was situated. This majestic building, erected to the design of the prominent Petersburg architect M.M.Peretyatkovich in 1912, is faced with dark-grey homogeneous Serdobol Granite. The bank facades are through out covered with rustic slabs, decorated columns, pilasters, arcades, various original sculptural representations. The architectural forms and proportions of the building, adhering to the style of Italian Renaissance, resemble the famous Palace of Doges in Venice. The models of the sculptural decor of the building were executed by L.A.Ditrich and V.V.Kozlov. There are stylized human and animal heads, ram’s skulls, plants, compositions of armour on the walls. All of them had been cut from granite from the town of Serdobol.
Similar to the banks, facades of some buildings occupied by rich shops, trade firms and multi-storey tenaments are exquisitely designed with stone.
The house of the Yeliseyevs’ Trading Firm (Nevsky Pr., N 56) erected in Modern style by the architect G.V.Baranovsky in 1901-1903 stands out for its huge stained glass panels, enormous apertures of shop windows that take up almost all of the facades and for the picturesque, showy stone facing made of brownish-pink porphyry granite. The high base of the building is clad with polished slabs, while the two storeys above show imposing rusticated stone. Smoothly finished slabs were used for the higher storeys. The ornament typical of modern style appears as especially fine against such a background. The corners of the building are marked with monumental bronze sculptures representing allegories of Industry, Trade, Art and Science and with the capping turrets of deliberately complicated shape. Earlier, high thin flagstaffs with long streamers were on them. The view was light and festive and behind the stained glass panels (vitrages) of the first and second storey windows, the bright concert hall was situated (today, the gloomy hall of the Comedy Theatre is here).
At the crossing of Nevsky Prospekt and the Griboyedov Canal there rises a building (N 28) well known as the “House of Books” today. It was built in 1906 after the design of the architect P.Ju.Syuzor for the Company “Singer” that traded the world renowned sewing-machines. This monumental edifice in modern style was richly embellished with stone. The ground and first floors are faced with brownish-red fine-grained Swedish granite, brilliantly polished. The complex profiles of the slabs, especially between shop-windows of the ground floor, attracts our attention. At present it does not occur at all. The second, third, and forth storeys are covered with grey, so called “forged”, (that is very smoothly finished) granite of Serdobol rock type, while the upper storey is faced with the same , but polished granite. Board-panels made of the polished dark-grey, almost black, labradorite are arranged in the piers of the two lower floors. The stone surface is dappled with blue light spots that flash and fade alternately. These points of light originate in crystals of labrador - a feldspar frequently showing the property of iridescence (IRIS means rainbow in Greek) that is, the ability of reflection of the light falling on its surface. Patterned bronze brackets for frosted lanterns are fixed on the labradorite panels. Three of the biggest upper windows are distinguished by the stylized groups made of bronze after the models of A.G.Adamson. They stand on the rostrums and personify Industry and Navigation. Each group includes one figure holding a sewing machine and a spindle in the hand and the other - with a hook. The edifice is crowned with a huge cupola on the top of which a globe on a sewing needle is installed. The bronze figures forming the group “Navigation” (its author is the sculptor A.L.Ober) support the globe.
The building of the Singer Sewing-Machine Company situated opposite the stately Kazansky Cathedral (the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan) erected in the style of Classicism was initially perceived as a sharp dissonance in the architecture of the discussed part of Nevsky Prospekt. From the very beginning, it provoked numerous critical reviews. For its striking splendour the building stood out against the surrounding considerably less pretentious houses. However, as the time has shown, the house had become embedded in the three-dimensional spatial composition of this part of the city.
The house at N 72 is noteworthy for its stone decor. It was built by the architect S.I.Minash in 1909-1910 as a tenament of M.B.Voyeykova and represents one of the most exquisite models of Northern Modern style. Light-grey talc-chlorite schist, better known by the shortened name “talc-chlorite”, or soap-stone, was used for the design of the two lower floors of the building. It is a fine-grained rock consisting of green talc and chlorite, yellow magnesite and a bare handful of white quartz. The rock is rather soft and therefore it was often used for carving. The stone slabs covering the walls of this building have either rocky or smooth surfaces finishes.
The facade of the building looks very picturesque due to the volumetric facing slabs, stylized form of the windows and balconies, transparent glass bay and interesting relief delineations cut in talc-chlorite. There are eagle-owls on either side of the entrance to the confectionery. An eagle-owl and an owl are almost indispensable attributes of a decor in Nothern Modern style. They are present in design of many buildings of the type, but this case is certainly unusual because here we see the best statues of the birds. Feathers of the eagle-owls are dishevelled and at times silky glitter of the talc-chlorite schist gives the impression that any moment the birds can revive, trilling with their beaks and turning the heads. Side by side the eagle-owls, snarling panthers lean out their heads, a little farther, gloomy birds spred their plumage. Besides, here are a sun with streaming rays and fern leaves in stock. And though the walls of the three upper storeys are plastered, the decorative bas-reliefs of the fifth floor seem to be cut of the same talc-chlorite and so are worth of paying attention. Swans are included in these compositions. Some of them swim peacefully, others preen their feathers.
An eagle owl at the entrance of a shop (Nevsky pr., N 72) had been carved of soap-rock.
The building at N 21 put up by the architect M.S.Lyalievich in 1912 in lines of Renaissance architecture was occupied by the Trade House of F.L.Mertens representing the firm dealing with furs (at present time the House of Models of Clothes is here). The facade of this building on the grand scale is arranged as three arches, four storeys high. In the beginning, the architect would like to use rough-hewn blocks of Putilovo Limestone slabs as the facing material, but later he chose the Ezelian Limestone delivered by one of German firms. That limestone, unlike light and banded Putilovo rock, is dark-grey and has an uniform fine-grained texture, frequently with small interstices of irregular forms. The large facing slabs are processed in such a way that they have wavy, fluted surfaces. Capitals of Ionic columns forming the basis of the huge arches and other adornments of the facade are also cut from the limestone. The arch key-stone are embellished with sculptures depicting sitting youths and a girl. A doe is lying at the girl’s feet and panthers are near the youths - one of them is snarling and another is fawning upon the man’s feet. Garlands are placed above the human figures. The embossed representations of ram’s skulls and other ornaments characteristic of antique decor are located in the centre of the garlands. And in the yard of the house, on a law pedestal with a fountain, a white bear with a globe under its paw is sitting. It is carved of the same rock. The author of all these sculptures and ornaments was V.V.Kuznetsov.
By and large, only 23 buildings which are adorned with use of considerable amount of natural stone can be counted on the whole Nevsky Prospekt*. They approximate only about 12% of the houses of Nevsky Prospekt. It is remarkable and may be considered as quite unexpected by an unsophisticated reader that there are no the most magnificent edifices among them. We mean such masterpieces as the palaces of the Counts Stroganov, Anichkov, of the Princes Beloselsky-Belozersky and many other houses forming the architectural face of the Prospect. On the whole, stone decoration of Nevsky Prospekt rather limited for the main thoroughfare of the city is supplemented with granitic adornment of bridges across the rivers Moika and Fontanka, and Griboyedov Canal, as well as with several first-rate monuments.
First of all, there are monuments to the prominent Russian military leaders – Fieldmarshals M.I.Kutuzov and M.B.Barklai de Tolli standing in front of the Kazansky Cathedral. These statues were cast in bronze after models by the sculptor B.I.Orlovsky in 1837. As early as 1830, Nicholas I confirmed the project of pedestals for the statues suggested by A.Monferrand. They were to be made of red marble and decorated with bronze bas-reliefs. But the sculptor objected against the marble, considering granite to be more suitable bases for the bronze figures. The design of the granite pedestals was created by the archirect V.P.Stasov. They represent the immense (3.02 m high) rectangular monoliths of dark-red ornamented Finnish rapakivi granite. Quarrying and processing of the rock were carried out by the famous stone-cutter Samson Sukhanov. The bases of the pedestals in the form of wide massive disks are made of granite of the same type.
*) More complete description of building along Nevsky Prospekt had been given in the book: Bulakh, A.G., Abakumova N.B.: Stone decor of the Leningrad main streets, L., 1993.
Mighty blocks of the Finnish red rapakivi granite serve as pedestals for the sculptural groups “Horse Taming” by P.K.Klodt on Anichkov Bridge. The groups seem to be the acme of perfection in plastic art.
In 1878, the monument to Catherine II was solemnly unveiled in Alexandrinsky Square (Ostrovsky Square today). Its project was fashoned by the artist M.O.Mikeshin and the architects D.I.Grimm and V.A.Shreter taking part in the work. The bronze statue of the empress is 4.35 m high and stands on an approximately 10-metres pedestal of rather complex shape – with ledges and steps. Two different types of granites were used for it: grey fine-grained Serdobolsky rock and an ornamented grey-pink gneissoid one called “monastic” and quarried by monks of the Valaam monastery on the islands Lutsaary and Janisaary in the middle of Lake Ladoga. Granite for the base of Catherine statue was delivered from Janisary Island. The stone-cutters G.A.Balushkin and N.P.Osetrov made the pedestal.
The huge monument to Alexander III was set up in front of the Moscow Railway Station on the high, lofty pedestal assembled of granite from the Syyskuujansaari Island.
At the forty-year anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, an obelisk “To the Hero-City of Leningrad” was unveiled at the centre of Uprising Square ( the authors of the project are the architects A.I.Alymov, V.M.Ivanov, sculptors A.A.Vinogradov, B.A.Petrov, V.D.Svesh-nikov, A.S.Charkin and engineer B.N.Brudno). Grey granite resembling the colour of soldier greatcoat capote had been chosen for the monument. The rock was obtained from a quarry of the deposit “Renaissance” situated beyond the city of Vyborg. On November 6,1983, a monolith weighing as much as 2200 tons was separated from the source rock with the help of accurately calculated explosion. After the prelimenary tentative processing and sawing up by stone-cutters of the team headed by M.V.Dokuchayev, it was transported to Leningrad in 2 huge blocks. Some precautions had to be taken for the transportation. A capsule with wooden and rubber washers to keep the stone in the proper position at which its sag could not exceed 2 mm lest the granite monolith 22 m long crack. The finishing touch and polishing of the granite took place on the site.
The obelisk is pentahedral in shape, in section it has the shape of a star. In its lower part, the obelisk is encircled with a bronze wreath covering the joint of the two monoliths. The monument is decorated with bronze high-reliefs devoted to the theme of Leningrad’s heroic defence; on the top of the obelisk, the Gold Star shines. Early in the April of 1985, the stell crowned with the Star had been installed on the pedestal prepared in advance. The operation on its raising with use of 3 cranes took 3 hours. The overall weight of the monument approximates 400 tons, the height is 36 m, and length – 22 m. With the exception of the Alexander Column, it is the highest stone monument in Petersburg. Unfortunately, it is in rather poor harmony with the square panorama. Besides, it is not original, as identical composition monuments had been set up in Kiev, Odessa, Minsk and other hero-cities.
It should be noted that the square in front of the Moscow Railway Station was always a challenge for architects of the city: there was no compositional unity there earlier and it remains absent; buildings surrounding the square are utterly heterogenious in respect of architectural styles. Moreover, it is situated on the crossing of several streets of quite distinct functions randomly flowing into the place. It is understandable why the monument to V.I.Lenin, having been laid down very long ago, could not be set up there. At last, then the more consonant architectural design had been found, the grandiose monument on the granite pedestal was placed in the spacious Moscow Square.
In the past, the monument to the Emperor Alexander III stood on a huge granite monolith in front of the Moscow Railway Station in the square. Nowdays it has been installed in the small garden at the Marble Palace. The history of the monolith and the mystery of its disappearance was described in our book published in 1993 (p.p. 25 and 52).
To the beginning