St Petersburg Russia’s northern star
St Petersburg Russia’s northern star. Astrologers claim that cities, like humans, have their own horoscopes and their own fortunes. Even if you don’t trust fortune-tellers, you will most probably agree that every city has its own aura, face, or character (no matter what you might call it), which makes it seem someone rather than something or somewhere. You may have seen and heard a lot about it, yet your own first glimpse provides you with a unique personal experience. There are cities we admire and cities we hate; cities we feel like visiting and cities we try to avoid; cities we miss and cities we fall in love with. A city may look quite different in different situations and in different ages. We could compare a city with a flamboyant girl, or a lonely old lady, a splendid and arrogant gentleman, or an ugly and mischievous miser; at times it’s a businessman, at times it’s a warrior, and at times it’s a vampire.
Despite the diversity, cities preserve their own “selves” through all their lives. The longer the life, the more exciting the story; and we may be as fascinated by the history of a long dead city as we would by the biography of a long dead hero. Cities can even be generally accepted as feminine or masculine. But there is only one you never confuse with others, and it’s the one you were born in. For we never question the onliness of mothers. Or fathers.
St. Petersburg. Gorgeous, classically flawless and remarkably picturesque buildings were in abundance; many of them badly needed redecorating, but it was impossible to imagine the amount of money to keep them all in order. Marvelous fences – each unique, breath-taking embankments and totally different bridges, proud and flying Klodt’s horses. If I were to use just three words, I’d say: space, light and majesty. Space, which has nothing to do with Moscow’s gigantism – the space of harmony; light in both meanings – the never heavy buildings, statues and bridges, enlightened by the genius of their designers, who worked with respect to the works of their predecessors, thus creating the space; and the majesty, which has nothing to do with arrogance – the majesty and splendor of Classicism, the wisdom of balance and order.
St Petersburg is a city of contrasts. It’s the contrast between the dirty yards and gorgeous streets, industrial districts and palaces, usual for a capital. But the age of the glory of Russia, the Russian Empire, is commemorated in every stone, every lion’s muzzle and every torch of this city. Every street ends by a carefully designed sight, a special facade, and not just because it meets another street. There is nothing incidental. The glory has been preserved both in look and in spirit. It is impossible to get rid of this spirit once you’ve breathed it in. This spirit is higher than money, higher than power, and higher than anyone’s personal interest.