Foundations of St. Petersburg (06:16)
Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke explore the city of the Russian imperial royal family, founded by Peter the Great; his statue stands on a megalith from Finland. This ruler created a Dutch-inspired city, with canals and grand avenues which cost the lives of thousands of serfs. Filmmaker Alexander Pozdnyakov introduces the Peter and Paul Fortress and other landmarks from the Neva River.
Saint Isaac's Cathedral (07:19)
Built during the first half of the nineteenth century, the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg is lavishly decorated with gold, stone, and other imported materials to show power and wealth. Sooke explores the cellars of the cathedral where museum curators saved art works during WWII. Sergei Okunev explains how the curators lived in the cellars during incessant bombing; many starved to death.
Palace Square (03:53)
The Russian Revolution broke out in the square of the Winter Palace. Catherine the Great started the Hermitage Collection in 1764. Each subsequent tsar updated the style of the palace rooms; Alexander II added the Pavilion Hall in 1858.
Hermitage Collection (04:02)
Catherine II acquired prestigious art collections from across Europe; she hid messages in art to manage her image. Museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky explains the cultural revolution desired by Peter the Great.
Fabergé Eggs and Literature (05:25)
During the revolution, much of the tsars' art was sold to collectors, but now some are trying to bring the art back to Russia. A private museum displays valuable Russian objects, including those made by Peter Carl Fabergé. A peasant figurine sheds light on the disconnect between wealthy and poor in Russian society, a theme addressed in literature as well.
Contemporary Art and Soviet Pop Culture (05:21)
Sooke visits the Marina Gisich Gallery of contemporary art, where he discusses the Russian art world with the owner, who blends art and domestic space. Gisich promotes art through gatherings of artists and wealthy patrons. Ramirez and Sooke find a Soviet era arcade, where communist values are preserved through games.
Anna Akhmatova (03:13)
Ramirez visits the home of modernist poet Anna Akhmatova, who wrote about the suffering of Russian people throughout the revolution and Stalin's reign. Though her works were eventually banned, she persevered by sharing poems verbally; "Requiem" is celebrated in Russia.
Constructivist Architecture (41:06)
Sooke explores the modernist painters of early 20th century Russia and describes the brief period of modernist architecture before Stalinist style was enforced.
Metro Station and Historical Monument (04:32)
Ramirez enters the Leningrad Metro that opened in 1955. She admires the Soviet art depicted in the architecture. Sooke views the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, which includes a broken steel ring representing the nearly 900 day siege and endurance of the soldiers in WWII.
Art in Protest (05:55)
Ramirez investigates current political protest at Yelena Osipova's home, where the artist creates paintings protesting injustice. Sooke and Ramirez attend a performance of "Swan Lake" at the theater built by Catherine the Great.
Credits: St. Petersburg (00:32)
Credits: St. Petersburg
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