First mentions of the Summer Garden dates back to 1704. It was created according to the taste and directions of Peter the Great, who wanted to have a summer residence “better than French king had in Versailles”. Impressed by the royal parks that he had seen in Europe, Peter the Great was very keen to create something similar in his newly built "Venice of the North". In Peter's new park everything was created according to the latest fashions; the trees and bushes were trimmed in the most elaborate way and all the alleys were decorated with marble statues brought from Venice and Rome and fountains. The collection of marble sculpture in the Summer Garden became the first Russian museum in the open air and helped to develop the Russian school of secular art. During the reign of Peter the Great, the Summer Garden was a centre of social life in the capital, Peter the Great used to organize regular receptions and balls in the gardens, his "assemblies ", which involved dancing and drinking and impressive firework displays.
Tsar Peter commissioned the city’s first and foremost architect, the Italian Domenico Trezzini, to build a small palace in the park. The palace had no heating and was intended only for summer time use, hence its name "Summer Palace", as opposed to the "Winter Palace" that Peter had built just down the same embankment of the Neva. The Summer Palace, a small two-storey yellow building, was built between 1710 and 1714, with 7 rooms on each floor. After February 1917, the Summer Garden lost the status of an Imperial park and in 1934 together with the Summer House of Peter the Great became an independent memorial architectural and historical museum. Since 2003 the Summer Garden is a part of the State Russian Museum complex.
It is always a great pleasure to take a stroll down the alleys of the Summer Garden, passing by the palace, the marvelous marble statues and the pond. A pair of white swans returns every year to the Karpiev pond in the Summer Garden, even though the park is located in the middle of a bustling city.
Church of St. Panteleimon the Healer
This charming red-and-white Church of St. Panteleimon is one of the oldest in St. Petersburg.
The first wooden church was built here during the reign of Peter the Great, and was consecrated in the name of St. Panteleimon, on whose holiday (27 July, old style) the Russian Navy defeated the Swedish Navy at Gangut (1714) and Grengam (1720).
The wooden church was replaced in 1735-39 by the modern stone church, probably designed by Ivan Korobov, although there are no definitive records. Comprising a single octagonal cupola, crowned by a tiny onion dome, and a low belltower with slender spire, the church is one of the finest baroque buildings in St. Petersburg, and has survived almost unaltered to this day.
Although plans were announced to demolish the church in the 1930s, they were thankfully never fulfilled, and the building was eventually handed over to an electrical factory. Later, it was restored as a Museum of the Battle of Hanko, and was eventually returned to the Orthodox Church in the 1990s. Although the original interiors had been completely destroyed, the original mosaic Icon of St. Panteleimon had somehow survived, and is once again the centre of worship in the fully restored church.
Circus on Fontanka
This is Russia’s first stone building specifically designed for the circus. It opened its doors in 1877, and since then has showcased the country’s best acrobats and animal performers.
Circus performances had a great success among citizens of St-Petersburg even in XVII century. They were held at squares during folk holidays in Maneges that were used for horse riding training. In XIX century special circus buildings were built. But they were wooden and not very comfortable. The first constant circus - "Turnier circus" was built in 1827 on the same place where the present circus is. More than 120 years ago, on 26 December 1877, there was the opening of the Circus on Fontanka - the first in Russia stone building, built according to the specific parameters of circuses (the architect - V.A. Kenel). This date is a birthday of the Circus on Fontanka. The initiative of circus building belonged to the Italian actor, horseman and trainer Gaetano Chinizelli - the head of the big circus family that came on tour to Petersburg in 1847. The building of a new circus thought to be one of the most beautiful circuses building in Europe. It adored the contemporaries by its perfect proportions and chamingdecorations: figures of muses in arch-shaped windows, allegoric sculpture group in the centre of ledge with theatrical masks, frontones with goreliefs of horseheads. The circus inside was also elegant - spectator hall was well dressed by gold imitations, pink velvet, mirrors, crystal lamps. The Chinizelli circus (it was called so until the revolution) played an important role in the development of circus art in Russia. The best actors from all over the world performed there. To visit Chinizelli Circus for aristocracy thought to be as fashionable as to first Mikhailovsky Theatre. A.I. Kuprin, D.V. Grigorovuch, A.A. Blok and F.I. Shalyapin were among the fans of that circus. In 1919 Chinizelli Circus became state. The best creative traditions continued to life in Leningrad (St-Petersburg) circus in last decades. In 1994 St-Petersburg Circus and academy of Theatre Art organized the recruitment of students for studying the specialization - actor and director of circus and stage. St-Petersburg Circus is one of the leading producing circuses of our country. There are pantomimes, theme performances, plays for children.