Author Topic: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg  (Read 15323 times)

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Offline grandduchessella

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Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« on: July 08, 2004, 11:06:54 PM »
Oligarchs eye symbols of old Russia
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC correspondent in St Petersburg

The state cannot afford to renovate the palaces
On an overgrown patch of land beside the river Moika in St Petersburg, a former Romanov residence lies close to ruin. It was once the palace of Grand Prince Alexei - uncle of the last Russian Tsar. But the building hasn't been renovated properly for a century. The tall iron gates are tightly locked, but decades worth of damage to the palace are clearly visible from a distance. Plaster is falling from the walls in great chunks; the neglected metalwork is twisted and rusting. Officials charged with protecting more than 7,000 historic monuments in Russia's second city say they can't afford the maintenance bills any longer.

Prolonging life
Led by Governor Valentina Matvienko, they are pushing for a change in legislation to allow them to sell the property - which includes dozens of dilapidating palaces - before it's too late. "The situation is becoming more critical every year. Our buildings are in urgent need of investment," says Vera Dementyeva, head of St Petersburg's Committee for State Protection of Monuments. Of course privatisation will not solve everything, but it will prolong the life of many of our palaces. The Alexei Palace was let to a Moscow businessman 12 years ago on the understanding he would carry out specific repairs. But the only change has been for the worse. Vera Dementyeva believes buying rather than renting a property will give investors the incentive they need to embark on restoration work. So her committee has already identified 26 potential sites for sale. Finding buyers should not be difficult.

Status symbol
Like Moscow, St Petersburg has caught real-estate fever. Russia's new rich are snapping-up property here in droves. Across town from the committee's office, builders lay the gravel path to another modern apartment complex for the elite. Company director Ivan Romanov has been busy reaping the rewards of the building boom. Now developers like him are eyeing an exciting new market in palaces. What better status symbol after all, than a mansion once frequented by the Tsars? Valery doubts Russia's oligarchs will keep palaces better than the state "I think the new law would open up lots of new opportunities for my company, and for many others," says Mr Romanov. "And I'm sure the market demand is there." "I think most of them will be bought as head offices for big companies, but some will definitely serve as palaces for the rich."

The pale yellow summer estate of Alexander Bezborodko is likely to be a popular choice on the provisional 'for sale' list. Catherine the Great is said to have been a regular visitor here, dropping in during outings on the River Neva. Those days of grandeur are long gone. Today the crumbling colonnades and balconies are in desperate need of attention.

But not everyone is convinced that selling protected properties is the best way to preserve them. Businessman Valery Bely admits he would not risk any such investment in the current climate. "The state privatises today," he says. "Then tomorrow, they want it back." But Mr Bely believes others will be less cautious with their fortunes and he's worried Russia's new rich are not ready for the responsibility. "Our businessmen will either do no repairs to the buildings at all, or do it all in their own bad taste. "They'll add Jacuzzis and barbecue patios!" he says. "Even though these palaces are in a terrible state now, I think there should be a freeze on selling them until the mentality of Russia's rich people improves."

Transparency
The governor's proposal has raised other doubts too.
Some fear the new buyers will add their own touch of 'nouveau riche' Privatisation remains a dirty word in Russia after the crony-ridden factory sell-offs of the early 1990s. Vera Dementyeva insists the city wants these sales to be transparent. "People here think privatisation means free distribution," she admits. "But that hasn't happened for years. "There will be proper tenders for these palaces, like in any other country."
Posing in front of the Winter Palace, a Peter the Great look-a-like twirls his moustache at the tourists. "St Petersburg's palaces just don't look as good as they should," the city's founder reflects between photographs. "If the state doesn't have the funds to look after them, I think selling them off is probably for the best." The city authorities say they have been left with little choice if they are to save the buildings for the next generation of sight-seers. But there are still some things even the richest Russian oligarch can't buy. Landmarks like the Hermitage are not for sale - however tempting the bid.

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2004, 09:09:31 PM »
It is heartbreaking to see the buildings and their current state. So many probably will not survive, even with private investors. I was in St Petersburg last month and I'm so glad I got to see it now.  It's hard to imagine how bad it looked before the restoration for the 300th anniversary.

David_Pritchard

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2005, 05:23:38 PM »
Is Vera Dementyeva the same person as Natalya Leonidovna Dementyeva?

When I first met Natalya Dementyeva she was the  Director of the State History Museums of Saint Petersburg. She then moved on to be the Minister of Culture under President Yeltsin. After President Putin took the presidentcy, I lost track of her.

If Vera and Natalya are the same person then I could not think of a better person to protect the historic architecture of Saint Petersburg.

DAP

Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2006, 09:27:32 AM »
Is someone own an catual view of the palace of Grand Prince Alexei?And  also a prerevolutionnal view ?
Thanks ,
Vassili

Offline BobG

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2006, 10:48:34 AM »
I'm sure Wandering Camera sight has pictures of it today, but I couldn't find it quickly.
http://www.enlight.ru/camera/index_e.htm

BobG
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 05:29:38 AM by Svetabel »

Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2006, 04:59:45 PM »
This palace was sold there is ten years(in 1992 I believe) against the promise to restore it...AFTER Looking its bad state of preservation I wonder why the authorities doesn't make a lowsuit to the owner,it's incrdible!

Vassili

Offline Traveler

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2006, 07:47:17 PM »
I was lucky enough to spend 4 days in St Petersburg last September.  To me it was the trip of a lifetime.  There is a beauty that can not be explained.  One can only hope that it expands and envelopes the whole city.

Jerry

Offline Lordtranwell

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2006, 01:46:53 AM »
Hi,
I am off to St. Petersburg in a couple of weeks.  I know some of you have already been there.  Can you suggest any out of the ordinary places to visit?  I shall be looking for the window at the back of the Italian palace where Nicky and Alix wrote their nemes using a diamond ring.  No doubt I shall see all the usual places but to make it more meaningful I would welcome any suggestions for 'off the tourist route' places which you have found interesting.

All the best,

Tranwell

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2006, 04:04:43 PM »
A bit out-of-the-way but worth the effort are the suburban palaces of Gatchina [with a lovely village and the Malta Priory palace] and Oranienbaum.  Alexandria Park [next to Peterhof] is also a nice place to trek about with it's smaller "palaces". More like large houses or mansions than palaces.  The ruins of the lower dacha can be an interesting, thought provoking experience.
 I have been to St.P 3 times in the past year and a half and still have more to see !
Have fun,
 Robert
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2006, 05:18:51 AM »
Quote
Hi,
I am off to St. Petersburg in a couple of weeks.  I know some of you have already been there.  Can you suggest any out of the ordinary places to visit?  I shall be looking for the window at the back of the Italian palace where Nicky and Alix wrote their nemes using a diamond ring.  No doubt I shall see all the usual places but to make it more meaningful I would welcome any suggestions for 'off the tourist route' places which you have found interesting.

All the best,

Tranwell

Your extra places could focus on where your interests are.

If you have a passion for Russian authorship: Fedor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Gogol' and Alexander Pushkin, you could visit their house museums and include that as part of a literary walk around the city taking in some of the areas which are described in their classic works.

You may wish to consider scientific endeavors and treats: Kunstkammer-Lomonosov exhibits, Mendeleev, Pavlov and Zoology museums, or a military trek; taking in Suvorov and Artillary museums. There is also the Arctic-Antarctic Museum which is interesting. The choices are numerous.

An architectural period walk can prove interesting commencing with St. P. first buildings and subsequent periods that take in all the various architectural Imperial styles including "style moderne" facades found around Kamenoostrovskii Prospekt.

Finally, I can recommend travelling to Vyborg as a day trip or closer, or to Kronshtadt naval base;  for a few hours to see the base and naval museum, + attractive cathedral in the square opposite the wall of memory.

For overnight expeditions further afield you may try Kirzhi with its splendid wooden architecture or Pskov with is magnificent fortress.

Finally there is a marvellous village 30 miles north west of St. P. called Repino, made famous by the artist Ilya Repin, who was a member of the artistic impressionist movement known as peredvizhhiki. His works may be found at the Russian Museum.

Have a wonderful time!

Margarita






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Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2006, 08:04:20 AM »
Hi,

More on Repino,interesting museum on an interesting painter..what a pity he is not more well known in western...

http://quarks.inr.ac.ru/site.html
Vassili

Offline Arleen

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2006, 10:03:56 AM »
Thank you so much for this link on Repin's paintings Vassili, I have just enjoyed looking at them.  Having seen only the portraits of Nicholas II and others, I had no idea he did such perfectly marvelous paintings such as "Sergeon in an operating room" and I love the one of Tolstoy in his study, writing.  The pictures of his children are lovely too.....well all of them are really!

It would be wonderful to go to the museum there at his home.

Arleen

Offline AlexieNichole

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2006, 08:22:31 PM »
Unfortunately I've never had the chance to see St Petersburg yet.  It was on my list of cities to adopt an orphan from but I went with another choice.  I could've mixed touring with the adoption.  I'm stilling hoping to go but have no idea when, unless of course I win a lottery or something.

It just seems wrong in some ways having to hear that the palaces once belong to the IF may have to be sold.  If the state were to sell of the palaces could they use that money then to restore other palaces so they wouldnt have to be sold

Just the state owning those palaces sounds wrong.  I belief they claimed everything after the Tsar was taken from power...sorry if I'm wrong.  Hard to keep my history straight.  .... its just so sad.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2006, 09:25:57 PM »
Why is it wrong for the State [the Russian people] to own these palaces ? They were never private property to begin with. They were bought & built by Russian labour for the most part serfs,, maintained by state funds and now are open to everyone. No family, especially what is left of the Romanovs could possibly restore and maintain these places. Who would want to? The heating bills alone would bankrupt Gates !
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Offline griffh

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Re: Palaces close to ruin in St Petersbourg
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2006, 11:43:33 AM »
That exquisite neo-classic Polovtsov Dacha on Stone Island, wedding present from Baron Stieglitz to his daughter, Nadezha, wife of General Alexandre Polovtsov, is the one I really worry about.  Built in 1909, it had just been renovated in 1916, it is like a wee Pavlosk.  The thing that really scares me is that it has been rented out to Danny's Appliance Repair service in New Jersey for the next 80 years and Danny doesn't seem to holding up his end of the bargain from Princess Galitizane's descripticn of how the Dasha is deteriorating.  And that was seven years ago.  I think I am going to have to pay Danny a visit.