A. G. Bulakh
St. Petersburg Stone

Каменное убранство Петербурга. Кн. 6: Необычный взгляд на историю и архитектуру города = St. Petersburg Stone; An Unique View of the History and Architecture of the City / Пер. на англ. яз. Е. И. Кравцовой. - СПб.; Изд-во "Theophrastus Pbl, St. Petersburg - Athens", 2004. - 242 с.: ил. На англ. яз.

Книга знакомит с особыми страницами истории строительства и архитектуры Петербурга - использованием декоративного природного камня в отделке архитектурных ансамблей Дворцовой и Исаакиевской площадей, площади Декабристов, Марсова поля, дворцов, особняков и других зданий Петербурга. Книга иллюстрирована черно-белыми и цветными фотографиями, туристской картой города и схемами маршрутов по нему. Приводится обширная библиография.
Для ценителей истории и архитектуры города и его англоязычных гостей.

The book "St. Petersburg Stone: A unique View of the History and Architecture of the City of St. Petersburg" by Prof. Andrei Bulakh of the State University of St. Petersburg is a true encyclopedia - a real treasure box in various ways and for various fields.
First of all, this book is a primary source of information on the history of the major buildings of St. Petersburg, Cathedrals, Palaces, Museums, State Buildings, "Castles'", Prospects and Streets, and Monuments.
Second, the author focuses at the same time on the major building materials, especially the natural stones - St. Petersburg being famous far its unique tradition of the use of Russian and foreign natural rocks for the building and the decoration of the all architectural objects just listed, but also of "half-forgotten monuments of architecture".
Another dimension and quality of this book are the practical aspects of the immerse wealth of information on the very many valuable architectural monuments. In extra-Chapters the author discusses the "Preservation of Stone" in the specific climate of St. Petersburg, and the "Modern-day Quarries of Facing Stone in the North-West of Russia". At the end of the book -which contains some twenty photographs, sketches, and map, and a good number of lists and titles (such as the "Main sites of quarrying of natural stone and examples of its use in St. Petersburg building, 1703-1917", six pages; an "Index of Rock and Minerals" named in the text; seven pages of "Index of Architectural Objects Discussed"; and finally a list of Russian Bibliography, four pages; and a City map with major locations discussed).
Consequendy, this book will immediately be an obligatory reference book for various professions and fields of interest. Among them are most certainly the following:

  • City planers
  • Architects and Engineers
  • Historians and Art Students Administrations and City Officials Restauration Officials Geologists and Petrologists in exploration for building stores
  • Travel Officers guiding City tours
  • Anyone interested in the beauty and the history of St. Petersburg


There are many books about St. Petersburg written in English and other languages. The volume proposed to your attention is completely original. For the first time the history of the building of St. Petersburg and its architecture is discussed from an unusual viewpoint. The matter is that Peter I wanted the new capital to be the first Russian city constructed all of stone - from bricks and natural rocks. It is precisely this aspect of history of the city development with concomitant descriptions of its highly artistical valuables that is of our prime interest. Taking up such a considerable subject matter, the author tried to present data in a widely available and interesting form, the more so, as this information can be useful for visitors of St. Petersburg in sightseeing. At the same time he has the pleasure of bringing to readers' notice more special insights into disposition of old stone quarries and mines, kinds and varieties of stone, processes of its weathering and today's workable deposits of the Russian North-West.

The proposed book is the sixth one in the series "Stone decoration of St. Petersburg". The author began this work together with Natalia B. Abakumova (1935-1991). Their first book was published in 1989 when she was yet alive. The second book written in common was issued in 1993. The name of the deceased was preserved on the title page of the third volume (1997) as acknowledgement to the dead colleague. The fourth book (1999), as well as the fifth one, contain new data and are signed already by one name, though old materials that have changed their meaning and are given in new context are partly used here too. Some ideas thought originally out in cooperation with N. Abakumova are developed further. The author uses the possibility to commemorate his former colleague again.

The first chapter of the book deals with history of stone building in the capital of the Russian Empire founded by Peter I. Conceptually, it was to be the first Russian city created by European standards. Such, indeed, is the case. The second chapter is concerned with Russian and foreign quarries of stones used in St. Petersburg, Different kinds of the applied rocks are covered in the third chapter. The fourth chapter describes typical artistic manners of use of granites, marbles and other natural stones in decor of buildings of various architectural styles of St.Petersburg. The major section of the book is dedicated to the history of building and to description of stone embellishment of famous edifices, ordinary constructions, cathedrals, palaces, mansions of nobility, banks, architectural ensembles of squares and streets of St. Petersburg. Particular emphasis has been placed on stone masterpieces of different ages. The chapters devoted to them are richly illustrated with photographies, pictures, maps and schematic sketches which can be useful for our guests during their tours about the city. In the closing parts of the book some half-forgotten monuments of the city's architecture, as well as factors and processes of natural stone weathering under urban conditions are discussed. The concise information about present deposits and quarries of building and decorative stone in the North-West of Russia is given in the final chapter.

The references are offered on three subject matters: 1) History and architecture of St. Petersburg; 2) Use of natural stone in the city; 3) Information about deposits of natural stone over the North-West of Russia, in the Ukraine and Urals.

The author hopes the book contains some new data representing additional information to the known literature concerning the history and architecture of St. Petersburg - one of the centres of the world culture.

Dr. Eric Robinson, the Vice President of the Royal Archeological Institute, Professor of the University College, London, and Dr. G. C. Amsfutz, Professor of Heidelberg University, kindly looked 'through the book. Professor Veikko Lappalainen checked and corrected the spelling of Swedish, Finnish and old mixed Finnish-Russian geographical names. I wish to express to them my sincere gratitude for the helpful discussion and some corrections of the English of the manuscript.

I am especially grateful to the publisher Dr. V. N. Dech whose energy and enthusiasm permitted to issue the book. In addition, I wish to thank the translator Dr. E. I. Kravtsova whose knowledges in geology together with passion for history and architecture of the city have helped to make the work available for a foreign reader. I also thank the photographer A. A. Logachev who contributed his experience and artistic taste in illustration of the book and 0. M. Roschinenko for the design of the book.

Professor A. G. Bulakh,
Chair of Mineralogy St. Petersburg University, 199034 St. Petersburg