InstaPetersburg

Special story about Saint Petersburg – only by using Instagram video.

See it here or on Instagram.

Starting from tomorrow we are going to Saint Petersburg where only by using Instagram we will tell you the story of this city. #instapetersburg

Petersburg is a city which was one of the most bravest and revolutionary urban projects in the history of Europe – it symbolised huge changes in the tzar’s Russia. Since it’s creation main events took place here – some of them had been significant to the history of the whole continent such as February or October Revolutions in 1917.
During next 10 days we will tell you stories of this city but – IMPORTANT – we will only use Instagram video. We want to face the 15 second limit and see how this format can be used to storytelling. New movies will be added twice a day – every morning and evening.

Opened in 1913 was the biggest mosk in Europe. Today it can still fit almost 5000 praying people. It is located close to the river and to the Peter and Paul Fortress. It can be seen and noticed from far distance thanks to the characteristic blue colour of its whole construction.
Soviets banned any religious practice in it in 1940 and then during the war it was used as a magazine. Only in 1956 it was returned to its intended use – being a temple. Citizens of Saint Petersburg call it simply – the mosk.

Just after our arrival we go down to metro, which was first created and opened in 1955. Before coming to Petersburg we heard that some of the stations look like piece of art so we really wanted to see them. Platforms due to their creation time are hugely influenced by the Soviet time and its symbolics – which has not been changed until today. The most rich stations were created under Stalin times, later on when Khrushchev came to power the style was made more simplistic.
56 out 63 stations lies very deep under ground, because the terrain surrounding Petersburg has unique geological structure. But also because during the Cold War the platforms were also thought to have second use – as bomb shelters. This is why the deepest station lies 86 metres below the ground!

It’s one of those stations built in the Stalinism style. It was finished in 1955. When you enter the station you get the impression that it radiates with gold – the decorations are a symbol and a homage to the defenders of Leningrad. One of the walls, opposite the entrance, is decorated with a mosaic praising the victory over the Third Reich – it was entitled “Victory”. It shows a mother with a child in her arms.

The walls and most of the columns were made out of marble. There are 46 columns in total, 16 of which are lined with glass. There are many laurel wreaths and various depictions of weapons across the whole station.

The initial plan was that there would be more elements praising Stalin but the then ongoing process of destalinization changed this plan.

Because of being filled with soviet symbolism this is probably our favourite station. It might seem that there is the same scene on every pylon but that is just an illusion. The whole piece was to symbolize the ideal of work of the soviet peoples which is why there are 48 different scenes. They depict workers, military officials as well as families.

The fortress known as the Peter and Paul Fortress, is the oldest monument in Saint Petersburg. Tsar Peter I apparently started the construction of the fortress with his own hands on 27 May 1703. Interestingly enough, even though it is a fortress it was never used during wars.

The Peter and Paul Fortress quickly lost its strategic importance and since the 18th century served mainly as a political prison. Prisoners were held in all buildings. Additionally, a special building known as Trubecki’s Bastion was built. Tsarevich Alexei, the son of Peter I, was the first prisoner. He was tortured and sentenced to death for conspiring rebellion against his father. Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Maxim Gorky were also imprisoned here. Poles were also incarcerated in this prison. The first to be held prisoners were general Tadeusz Kościuszko along with his adjutant major Stanisław Fiszer and a writer Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz.

Mickiewicz spent a couple of months in Saint Petersburg in 1824 – he lived at Kazańska 39 where a commemorative plaque is placed.

The monument that you can see in the video was set quite recently – in 1998. It is located in front of a school named after him (number 216). It is the only school in this city where one can learn Polish language and culture.

Peter I – the one that ordered the shaving of beards, but also wanted to obtain access to the Baltic sea – hence he began construction of Saint Petersburg and soon made this city the capital of the country. He was a particularly interesting person and also very involved in the 18th century history of Poland.

The monument, one of the most recognizable icons of the city, was made for tsarina Katerina II, the wife of Peter III, who wanted to legitimize her authority. The “Copper Rider” is another name of this 13 meter high monument.

An interesting museum dedicated to the political history of Russia – from the end of 18th century to the present. At first I didn’t want to go inside but it started raining heavily and we had to hide. The size of the exhibition made us have fun there. The political aspect of the museum does its thing and seeing various political themes of Russia was really worth it. Of course, we cannot forget about current propaganda which means some cabinets have to be taken with a grain of salt.

The museum has a small Polish accent – it is located in a former palace of a Polish dancer Matylda Krzesińska (she danced on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre and was also a lover of tsar Nikolai II).

For this episode you need to put your sound on, use your imagination, distance and sense of humour :)

We come around the Poland’s House because of the conducted research. Our first attempt is unsuccessful – nobody opens the door, but we later manage to get a phone number and make an appointment. The room is small and cluttered with various Polish books and movies.
You can visit this place and get support for every project pertaining to Poland. Additional, they conduct a lot of activities and integrational meeting for the local Polish community which isn’t as small as one might think.

Warsaw has the Palace of Culture, Paris – the Sacre-Coeur basilica or the Eiffel Tower, Dubai – Burj Khalifa. Practically every city has a building that characterizes it, is associated with its panorama and is visible from every direction. St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the golden dome of which became the main landmark, is such a building for Saint Petersburg,
Saint Petersburg’s residents call this cathedral an inkpot (indeed, its dome may resemble it). Many people criticize the lack of originality and following the example of western architecture. We consider the view from the dome to be the coolest one :)

Somehow, all the temples in this city have long names – Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan – the Kazan Cathedral for short, – plays an important role in Russian history. It is symbolically identified with the victory over Napoleon’s armies, as in 1812 the field marshal protecting the city entrusted the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan with the defence of Russia.
It is hard not to spot it as it appears out of nowhere on the architecturally cramped Nevsky Prospect and there’s this boom effect – wow, that is big.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood – it is probably one of the most recognizable landmarks of Saint Petersburg. Located near the Nevsky Prospect, it pours out from every souvenir shop and tempts us to enter with its architectural finish. Nearby, by the canal tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881 – the name of the church references this event.

Ania: I’ve seen many museums but this one beats even the Museo del Prado which is really high in my personal ranking. The collection is impressive but doesn’t tire, doesn’t overwhelm because the spine starts to hurt and you still have to walk. After going through one room you simply cannot wait for the next one. Despite the magnitude of exhibits. What’s most annoying is that, as with most museums, there is one or maximally a few works of a certain artist and yet they make a big deal out of it. So you enter for a short while and leave disappointed because there was supposed to be El Greco. And so there was, but only a single painting and an early one at that. But here we can see more than 20 paintings of Rembrandt, about 40 paintings of Rubens, 30 paintings of Picasso and many more.

At first it was supposed to be a small wooden house in the Dutch style – that’s how the winter residence of Peter I supposed to look. Unfortunately, little was preserved from the tsar’s initial intentions because the palace was remodelled six times.
Today most of its area is occupied by the Hermitage Museum (previous video) but there still are palace rooms.

Being in Saint Petersburg it is hard not to run into such wedding ceremonies held in public spaces.

Fields of Mars is a big square located in the centre of the city. In the past, exercises and trainings of soldiers took place here – Witkacy, among others, was stationed nearby. It was also there that he witnessed the bloody events of the revolution of 1917 which strongly influenced his works.

On our way to see the bridges of Petersburg we get to enjoy the city looks by night.

We reach one of the bascule bridges which is put up by night. It is 1 am in the morning, and we are wrapped in blankets as it is quiet cold outside. Besides our boat we count couple dozen more on the Neva river with others enjoying the show.

Believe us when we say that we couldn’t make this movie faster, but thanks to this you can “walk” through 2/3 of the whole Nevsky Prospect. That’s main, longest and busiest street of Petersburg. Many of the places which we show to you are located on it or in very close distance.

Catherine Palace is a place with full powerfulness of luxury. This might the best example of baroque style we have ever encountered. Located 25 kilometres from Saint Petersburg it is surrounded by huge park. Inside you can find the new Amber Room.

Amber Room – not the one which got lost during the war, but the new version of it, which is located in the Catherine Palace which we showed you yesterday. You are not allowed to record here, this is why the angle of this movie is as it is :)

And the last stop during our trip – Pavlovsk. We are coming here as we look for the officer’s school, which was attended by Witkacy and one of the theories we are checking is that it was located in this palace. But soon we discover that it is in some other place, not far. Since we are here, we decided to go into and see the palace from inside.

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