One of the most elegant and peaceful collections of architecture in the world, Palace Square remains the main public space of St. Petersburg after nearly three centuries.
The Winter Palace was constructed on the square between 1754 and 1762 by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It was the first building completed on Palace Square, and it became the central residence of the Russian Emperors.
By the end of the 18th century residences were built on the southern side of the square.
This greatly frightened Catherine the Great, for she had previously admired the unencumbered space from the windows of the Winter Palace. Catherine commissioned Yury Felten to create a worthy architectural counterpoint to the Winter Palace.
With a 580-meter semicircular facade facing Palace Square, it has at its centre a magnificent triumphal arch surmounted by the Chariot of Glory with six rearing horses.
Since its inception, Palace Square has been the site of numerous parades and festivals, but it has also seen its share of bloodshed.
On April 2nd, 1879, Alexander Soloviev unsuccessfully ventured to kill Tsar Alexander II by firing five shots from a revolver at the Emperor.
And, of course, during the night of October 25th, 1917, Bolshevik troops stormed and sacked the Winter Palace, marking the end of Tsarist rule in Russia.
In the summer of 1924, a gigantic chess board was constructed in the square for a unique "live" match.
In 1977, a "grid" was formed from 460 small gray and pink granite tiles adorning the square.
Today, many public events and concerts are held here throughout the year and Palace Square is a favorite spot for New Year's, Victory Day, Scarlet Sails, and White Nights celebrations.
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