From the Cathedral of Christ the Savior - around the Kremlin walls.
Main attractions: Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge, Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka, Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov, Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Strelka cafe', Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, House on the Embankment, Pashkov House, Mokhovaya street, National State Library with the sculpture of Dostoevsky, Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa, Manege Square, Red Square, St. Basil Cathedral, Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya, Kremlin southern wall and towers.
See our blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tips 2 and 3) for the first section of this blog.
See our blog "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 2) for the Manege Square section and (Tip 5) for the Red Square section.
Start: Kropotkinskaya (Кропо́ткинская) Metro Station, Red line, Line # 1.
End: Borovitskaya Metro station, Gray line No. 9 / Biblioteka Imeni Lenina Metro station, Red line, Line # 1 / Aleksandrovsky Sad station, light blue line No. 4, Arbatskaya Metro station, Dark Blue line No. 3 - which are all part of the same interchange Metro complex.
Note: this route can be combined with the Tipter "Old Arbat" itinerary.
The Kropotkinskaya station has two exits. Yours is towards the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Leaving the station you find yourselves in Volkhonka Street. Several museums are to be found here. The best-known is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (to your left) founded one hundred years ago by I. Tzvetayev, the father of a prominent Russian poet Marina Tzvetayeva. The museum’ s collection boasts of 670 thousand pieces of West-European art. The collection of the works of French impressionists and post-impressionists displayed in the museum is considered to be one of the world’ s most notable.
As for us, let’ s proceed to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. See the blog "Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" (Tip 2). The entrance is free BUT you have to pass security detection. Most of the photos of the Cathedral exterior and interior are in the blog designated above. In the old times, the Moscow’ s oldest convent named Alexeyevsky was located here. In its memory the Catherdal’ s lower Church of Transfiguration was consecrated. It was already in December 1812 that the emperor Alexander I issued a decree by which he took oath to erect “ a church in the name of Christ the Savior” in Moscow as a tribute to the memory of the Napoleonic war heroes. The place for the construction was chosen up on Sparrow Hills. By force of circumstances, the erection of the cathedral started only in 1839 under the reign of a new monarch, Nicolas I, in a new location at Volkhonka Street. The construction works spread over fifty years, during which services were still ministered here. In December 1931, the Cathedral was leveled to the ground by an explosion leaving the space vacant for the construction of a monstrous 420-meter Palace of Soviets with a gigantic figure of Lenin on top. This project was never implemented, and in 1960 an open-air Moskva swimming pool was opened in the place of the demolished cathedral. Incidentally, the pool was a great attraction for Muscovites. The cathedral was re-erected in the 1990s. The first solemn liturgy was ministered here in 2000 on the Christmas night of January, 6 – 7. The cathedral can accommodate the congregation of up to 10,000 people. The cathedral complex incorporates the museum of the history of the cathedral. An elevated observation platform was installed under the cathedral’ s dome.
The southern facade:
The Eastern facade:
The Cathedral interiors:
Note: at Soymonovsky street, below the Cathedral of Christ the Savior complex - you'll find a restroom.
As you walk around the cathedral, you’ d find yourselves entering a pedestrian bridge across the Moskva River. It was officially called Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge soon after Most Holy Patriarch Alexius II passed away.
The view of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior from the bridge is stunning:
The view of the city center and the Kremlin walls from the bridge is splendid:
The view, to your right, of the Fallen Monument Park (Sculptures Park), Peter the Great Statue and Strelka cafe'-bar - from the bridge is also splendid:
Looking, from the bridge, to the right/back (on the western bank of Moskva river) across Simonovsky Street (where it meets Prechistenskaya street - Пречистенская наб) you can notice a “ fairy-tale” house with a saddle-back roof, “ terem”-like (V-roofed) balconies and tiled faзade panels depicting the magic Sirin Bird, peacocks and Jarilo the Sun (a Proto-Slavic deity of fertility and vegetation) (1, Simonovsky). The house was built in 1907 for a Russian engineer P. Pertzov in accordance with the drafts of the artist S. Maliutin – the creator of the Russian matryoshka doll. From 1908 till 1912 the basement of the house was used as premises of the “ Bat” artistic cabaret, whose stage witnessed performances of the Moscow Art Theatre actors:
The Patriarshy (Patriarch’ s) Bridge - from the south - in the Moskva river:
Opposite, on the eastern bank of Moskva river (north to Strelka cafe'-bar) - you can see the golden towers and dark green roofs of Church of St. Nikolas in Bersenevka in the foreground glittering behind the trees:
The Chambers (Palaty) of Averky Kirillov are nearby. The chambers of Duma’s Clerk Averky Kirillov built in 1656-1657 make one of the most well-known dwellings of the 17th century. The rooms’ layout, an entrance system with a magnificent porch, and brick decoration with glazed tiles remind the main motive of the Teremnoy Palace. Framed windows and doors made the main decorative element of the dwelling architecture of the 17th century. They used to be the main accents of the décor of such buildings. The chambers have different projections and depressions that follow the room’s layout. Picturesque dynamics of asymmetrical composition was especially appreciated in that time period - In the 18th century:
To the right is Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) past factory, Bersenevsky Lane, 2, the former chocolate and confectionary factory that has extended its workshops along the embankment. After more than a century of producing chocolates and other sweets, the famed Krasny Oktyabr factory, opposite the Church of Christ the Saviour, was finally forced to close. The odour of chocolate has always been here in the air. The “ sweet” production was recently shifted to a new location, and the factory shops were rebuilt. The closure happened as part of an effort to remove industry from the historic centre of the capital. Its area, which boasts the best views of the Kremlin, is being converted into high-rent real estate. Nowadays, the whole area is fenced and is an entry-prohibited space. By the way, the past factory garages and other outbuildings have already been taken over by artists for gallery and studio space of the Strelka cafe'-bar. A small museum will remain open to document the history of the complex and the company. Today, the factory comprises a whole range of galleries, hostels, restaurants, bars and night clubs frequented by young people. The whole of the area is being referred to as the “ Art-spit”:
The most prominent arts & education establishment on Red October is the Strelka cafe', bar (pricey !), museum, amphi-theatre - already detailed in another blog Moscow - Zamoskvorechye 1 - The State Tretyakov Gallery, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Sculptures Park, Gorky Central Park" - tip 3:
Head on over to the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography (www.russianmuseums.info/M3061) to see the most interesting retrospectives of international and Russian from the modern days all the way back to the early 20th centuries. The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is a platform, which is designed for working with professional photographers, photographic collections, photo exhibitions and photo galleries. The Center plans to hold exhibitions, prepared by its own curators, as well as to provide facilities to other interesting projects in this area. In recent years The Lumiere Brothers Center has greatly widened its repertoire and now also hosts regular master classes from leading Russian photographers, workshops and other educational evenings, stages concerts of some great indie bands from Russia and the West, has indie movie and documentary screenings and boasts a very well-stocked store, where photography connoisseurs can find virtually anything to suit their needs:
Further north, on the EASTERN bank of Moskva river (the Strelka side) is the colossal House on the Embankment. It was designed by Boris Iofan. It took four years to build it. It was erected in the place of a former salt and liquor warehouse where from the so called “ monopoly vodka” was delivered to Moscow saloons. For a long time the house had been the biggest block of flats in Europe. The House on the Embankment is a block-wide apartment house in downtown Moscow. It faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side and Serafimovicha Street on the other side. It was completed in 1931 as the Government Building, a residence for the Soviet elite. In different periods of time its tenants had been six Politbureau members, sixteen Marshalls and Admirals, more than sixty Peoples’ Commissars (ministers) and their deputies as well as prominent workers of art. The flats were mainly inhabited by the Communist Party leaders. They offered spacious rooms with a height of five metres; all flats featured telephone lines, gas ovens and central heating. The building also housed various communal facilities like a gymnasium, tennis court, nursery, library and laundry. During the Stalinist horror era, many tenants were arrested and disappeared. This era was famously described by Russian author Yury Trifonov, who lived in the House during his childhood, in his novel ‘House on the Embankment’ (1976). The building currently has 505 apartments (some used as offices), a theater, a movie theater, restaurants, and retail stores. The faзade of the house is faced with numerous memorial plaques. Before the war, the courtyards of the House used to accommodate fountains, a kindergarten, a preschool institution, a laundry and a club (the present-day Variety Theatre) – everything for private use of tenants. There is a museum of the House on the Embankment housed in the premises of the former commandants office (in the court next to the Variety Theatre). Take a walk through the courtyards of the house towards Serafimovicha Street named after the Soviet writer Serafimovich in 1933, who once lived here. Cross the street by a pedestrian underpass towards a five-storey apartment house (5/16 Serafimovicha Street). This house was mentioned in a poem by a popular children’ s author Agnia Barto: “ There was a house in this place, but it disappeared with all of its tenants overnight…” In fact the house did not disappear at all, however, in 1937 it was moved 74 meters aside to vacate the construction area of new big stone bridge (that we'll soon use):
The Udarnik cinema, which was also a part of the complex, was originally meant to have a sliding roof that could be opened. This plan was never materialized. It was the largest in Europe for the time as well as the apartment house:
In case you arrived to the eastern bank of the Moskava river - you have to walk 800 m. to arrive to our next destination (Pashkov House). It is quite a difficult task to cross the very wide, bustling Borovitskaya pl. street and to arrive to the western bank of the river:
Head north along Bersenevskaya nab., 70 m (along the river in the eastern bank). Turn right (down) onto ul. Serafimovicha, 30 m. You have to find the ascent-point (steps) to the Bolshoy Kamennyy bridge (most) over the river. Turn left toward Borovitskaya pl., 75 m. Turn left onto Borovitskaya pl., 500 m. Turn right at ulitsa Volkhonka, 50 m and you face, on your left (up on the Vagankovsky hill) - the Pashkov House (Пашков дом), 1 Vozdvizhenka Street, 3/5.
In case you are, still, on the western bank - head north along Prechistenskaya street (Пречистенская наб). The minute you see the Kremlin walls in front of you - try to find a way (IT IS VERY BUSY, COMPLEX and DANGEROUS INTERSECTION. USE ONLY SUBWAY, CROSS-LIGHTS OR BRIDGE - to pave your way to Pashkov House over the hill) to turn left to Borovitskaya pl (no mercy for pedestrians in this "transport hell"...).
Pashkov House is a famous Neoclassical mansion that stands on a hill overlooking the western wall of the Moscow Kremlin and the mighty, busy intersection of thoroughfares below. Its design has been attributed to Vasily Bazhenov. Throughout the 20th century Bazhenov’s authorship was disputed, since no written evidence has survived the ages, and the only thing that serves as a proof is oral tradition and similarities to Bazhenov’s other buildings. It used to be home to the Rumyantsev Museum (Moscow’s first public museum) in the 19th century. The palace’s current owner is the Russian State Library. The Pashkov House was erected in 1784-1786 by a Muscovite nobleman, Pyotr Pashkov. He was a retired Captain Lieutenant of the Guards Semenovsky Regiment and the son of Peter the Great’s batman. As soon as it was completed, the Pashkov House became a landmark of Moscow. For many years a splendid palace of white stone standing on the Vagankovsky Hill has amazed people and is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Russian capital. It is one of the key locations described by Mikhail Bulgakov in his novel The Master and Margarita. The impressive view of the building is partly due to the site where it is built. The Pashkov House stands on a high Vagankovo hill, as though continuing the line of its ascent, on an open corner of two descending streets. The front facade faces the sunny side. The mansion was erected a bit skewed and not along the straight line of the street relative to the street and to the entrance from the Starovagankovsky Lane. Because of this, the Pashkov House is better perceived from sideways, allowing further angle viewpoints. Location of the building also has a symbolical importance: the Pashkov House towers a hill opposite the Borovitsky hill topped by the Kremlin. It was the first secular building in Moscow, from the windows of which one could see the towers and building of the Kremlin not bottom upwards, and could observe Ivanovskaya Square and the famous Cathedral Square into the Kremlin premises. The building has a varied and interesting silhouette, being formed by three compact cubages: main building and two flanking service wings. The mansion, being at the same time a town manor, has a flat-topped lay-out with a court of honor opened towards the entrance. The solution is unorthodox, since the entrance is from the side street and not from the main facade, and the traditional lay-out is inverted. There was a garden in front of the mansion before the 1930s. The facade looking on to the Mokhovaya Street is characterized by linear expansion. Two one-storey tunnels run to the right and to the left of the central cube ending in two-storied Service wings. The main building has colonnaded porticos on both sides. The building is topped with a cylindrical belvedere. These devices are common for Palladianism. In contrast to rusticated ground floor, the porticoes use great order linking two floors. Thanks to a not-too-high but full-width base, such linking of the two floors by a colonnade increases immensity of the building:
In case you prefer to walk along the Alexander Gardens under the Kremlin walls - see our "Moscow - The Kremlin Route" blog). In this route we take the less scenic itinerary along the western section of Kremlin walls. We shall try to walk around the Kremlin walls from three sides:
We turn right to Mokhovaya street. On our back/right side are the Borovitskaya and Armoury towers of the Kremlin (see our "The Kremlin Route" blog):
Finalizing climb-up the Mokhovaya street -
you see, on your left, the the National State Library with the sculpture of Dostoevsky: (see Tipter "Old Arbat" route).
Behind the Russian National State Library - if you turn LEFT (WEST) to Vozdvizhenka Street - you start our Itinerary of Old Arbat street (see our "Moscow - Old Arbat (Stary Arbat) - worth stopping in for a stroll on a nice evening" blog). We continue northward along Mokhovaya street. On our right is the Manege Exhibition center:
Behind it is the wonderful Manege Square with its flowers beds, fountains, Four Seasons Hotel, Okhotny Ryad shopping mall's roof, souvenirs sellers and benches:
A bit further north, on your left is the Moscow State University Institute of Asia and Africa:
You continue along Mokhovaya street until it changes to Okhotnyy Ryad street and the Four Seasons Hotel is on your right. You turn right. Cross the Manege Square from west to east (the Four Seasons Hotel is on your left, now and most of the elliptic Manege Square on your right).
You arrive to the Marshal Georgy Zhukov Monument and the Historical State Museum in front of you. They are, both, formally, still in the Manezhnaya Ploshchad (Manege Square):
Enter the Red Square through the Red Square's Resurrection Gate and Iberian Chapel:
Cross the Red Square from north-west to south-east along the Kremlin walls and end your walk (see Tipter route "Moscow - from Pushkinskaya Square to Red Square" (Tip 5) in the St. Basil Cathedral.
The Spaskaya (Savior's) Tower in the north-east corner of the Kremlin walls - as seen from the Red Square:
From the wonderful St. Basil Cathedral we head southward onto pl. Vasilyevskiy Spusk:
View from the Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent) to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge:
WE DON'T CROSS THE MOSKVA RIVER. THERE ARE WONDERFUL SIGHTS OF THE KREMLIN AND ITS WALLS FROM THE Bolshoy Moskvoretsky BRIDGE:
We turn right (quite complex to find the walking route !!!) to Quai Sainte-Sophie/Sofiyskaya nab., 350 m. On your right is the Moskvoretskaya Tower. The Beklemishevskaya Tower is one of the few towers in the Kremlin whose appearance has remained unchanged throughout the ages, and which has not undergone any serious reconstruction. Sometimes referred to as the Moskvoretskaya (Moskva River) Tower due to its proximity to the Moskvoretsky Bridge, it supposedly took its name from the Boyar Beklemishev, whose manor lay nearby. The tower was always the first to come under enemy attack, as it was situated at the junction of the Moskva River and the moat:
Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower from Moskvoretsky Bridge:
Vasilievsky Spusk (St. Basil's Descent), Moskvoretskaya Tower or Beklemishevskaya Tower, Nameless1 Tower from Moskvoretsky Bridge:
We stick to the St. Sophia promenade or Kremlevskaya naberezhnaya (Кремлевская наб.) (APPROX. 1 km.) under the Kremlin southern walls. The promenade starts at Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy most/bridge in the east and ends at Bolshoy Kamennyy most/bridge in the west - along the Moskva river. Most of the development works of this promenade had been carried out during the 19th century (starting at 1836). Due to these works and its height - the promenade provides magnificent views of the Kremlin and the city of Moscow. Try do the walk along the wall, if only at river-height. A nice walk with the sun starting to come or in a bright day:
The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower and the First Nameless Tower (left, west):
The Peter Tower (right, east), Second Nameless Tower (second right, east), the First Nameless Tower (second left), the Secret Tower (left, west):
Nameless 2 Tower at the southern walls of the Kremlin:
The Secret (Tainitskaya) Tower:
The section between the Secret (Tainiitskaya) Tower (unseen in the photo, right, east) and the Annunciation Tower (left, west). The white building in the centre - is the the Grand Kremlin Palace:
The "almost last" section of the wall between the water-supplying Tower (right) and the Annunciation Tower (left). The tower in the background is the Borovitskaya Tower - above the southern part of Alexander Gardens:
In its west end Kremlevskaya nab. turn right toward Borovitskaya pl.,
230 m. You take the ramp to Mokhovaya (МОХОВАЯ улица/ТВЕРСКАЯ улица), 36 m. It merges onto Borovitskaya pl., 65 m and you continue onto Mokhovaya St. 95 m - finalizing your extended circuit around the Kremlin.
Tip 2: From Mikhailovsky Garden to the Arts Square:
We leave the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood - heading northward as close as possible to the northern facade of the church. If we look northward, along the Griboyedov Canal - we see the Russian Museum (as seen from the Griboyedov Canal near the Spilled Blood Cathdedral):
Mikhailovsky Garden resides east to the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. With your face to the cathedral - the garden is on your right. The Garden is located behind the NORTHERN facade of the Mikhailovsky Palace (nowadays, the Russian Museum) (the museum is south to the church and the garden), and separated from the Mikhailovsky Castle with Sadovaya Street's carriageway in the east. Most people arrive to the garden along Griboyedov Canal from Nevsky Prospekt through bustling flow of people and cars. THe garden resides exactly between two historical spots: the place where Tsar Paul I was strangled is on one side and the spot, where a blast killed Alexander II is on the other. But Mikhailovsky Garden is an oasis of calmness and relaxation. The garden is very well maintained and very pleasant to stroll among its paths and allies. Free entrance.
The Mikhailovsky (Michael) Garden derives its name from the Mikhailovsky (Michael) Palace (the main building of the Russian Museum) which it adjoins. In 1716-1717, the architect J.B. Leblond, commissioned by Peter the Great, made a general plan of the three Summer Gardens. The first and the second were situated on the territory of the modern Summer Garden. The third was the one that housed the palace of Catherine I. The territory of the modern Mikhailovsky Garden belonged earlier to that third Summer Garden and was called "the Swedish garden". It has been a formal French garden, a hunting reserve and nursery. In 1741 the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna suggested that Rastrelli makes a project of a new Summer Garden that would include the former Palace of Catherine I and the surrounding garden. During the reign of the Tsarina Elizabeth (1741-1762) it housed labyrinths and fountains. Under the Tsar Paul I (1796-1801) the garden was used for horseback riding. The construction of the Mikhailovsky Castle and after that the Mikhailovsky Palace, during the 19th century, both of which border the garden, fixed the Mikhailovsky Garden in its present boundaries. In 1823, the Emperor Alexander I approved the re-design of this garden by Carl Rossi. Carl Rossi created an exemplary English garden in the middle parts. After the revolution of 1917 the garden was turned into a park for the city-dwellers. In 1822-1825 decoration of the park was made by such masters as architect Menelas, artist Ivanov and the gardener Schumann. In 1898 the Mikhailovsky Palace went to the supervision of Museum of Emperor Alexander III (the Russian museum) and the Garden became public. In 1999 the Mikhailovsky Garden was handed over to the Russian Museum. From 2002 the garden has been reconstructed by the museum; the purpose is to recreate the integrity of the garden’s composition, to the utmost retaining the original outlines by Carl Rossi.
Before we enter the garden, do not miss the view of Mikhailovsky Garden's wrought iron fence - already seen when we are standing facing the eastern facade of the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood:
The Mikhailovsky Garden was closed after the summer season in 2002 for restoration, and opened again for St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary in 2003. Today it is once again a favorite place for PSB citizens to walk, or simply to relax. The garden combines two landscape styles: French-style garden around the periphery, and English-style landscape in the center. Classical music concerts are often held here in late spring and summer:
The Spilled Blood Cathdedral, as seen from the entrance to the Mikhailovsky Garden:
Russian Museum, as seen from Mikhailovsky Garden:
In the north-east corner of the Garden, on the banks of the Moika River, is a small pavilion built in Empire Style by Carlo Rossi in 1825; a century earlier, this site had been occupied by a wooden palace belonging to Peter the Great's wife, Catherine. Next to the pavilion is a symbolic composition called the Tree of Freedom, made out of old oak by the sculptor Anatoly Solovyov.
There are two exits from the Mikhailovsky Garden. One is in the eastern side (quite frequently - closed) and the second, and better one, is through the entrance - in the west side. So, we return to the Griboyedov Canal Embankment, continue walking northward along the canal and turn right, EAST (crossing the Moyka river on a small bridge) onto a path along the Moyka river, along the northern benches of Mikhailovsky Garden, 150 m. parallel to nab. Reki Moyki (реки Мойки). The bridge we crosssed, over the Moyka river (where it meets the Fontanka river) is the First Engineer Bridge. Designed by P. Bazen, the engineer responsible for many of St. Petersburg's most famous wrought iron bridges, the First Engineer Bridge was opened in 1826. Fully restored in 1999, the bridge is famous for its intricate railings featuring a repeated head of Medusa, the design of which was copied for the railings of the Summer Garden. The sights from this small road along the Moyka towards Mikhailovsky Garden and the Spilled Blood church - are gorgeous. The extensive green area, on your left, beyond Reki Moyki road is part of the Summer Garden.
Before arriving to the meeting-point of the Moyka and Fontanka rivers - we, already, see the Mikhailovsky Castle (part of the Russian Museum) on our right. After 150-200 m. walk along the Moyka - we arrive to the rivers' meeting-point and to the Panteleymonovsky Bridge (Пантелеймо́новский мост). The bridge was erected in 1823 and was named after Panteleymonovskaya Street (now Pestelya Street, further east, continuing the bridge), which in turn was named after the nearby Church of St. Panteleimon. From 1915 until 1923 it was known as "Gangutskiy Bridge". In 1923 it was renamed as "Pestel Bridge" after Decembrist Pavel Pestel. In 1991 the original name was reinstated. It is 43 meters long and 23.7 meters wide. A wooden bridge stood in this location as early as 1725. In 1748 a Baroque-style bridge was built in its place designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. This last structure was damaged in the flood of 1777 and was demolished. In 1823 a narrow suspension bridge ("chain bridge") was built by von Tretter and Khristianovich. In the beginning of the 20th century, it was widened and converted into an arch bridge by Lev Ilyin. Today, the bridge still preserves Ilyin's design:
Step on the bridge to catch nice views (especially, in the morning hours) of the Summer Garden and Mars Field:
In the picture below we see the First Engineer Bridge (left) and Pantelmon Bridge (right):
We shall continue along the western bank of the Fontanka (nab. Reki Fontanki) (NOT crossing Pantelmon Bridge):
On the other, eastern bank of the Fontanka river, several steps from Pamtelmon Bridge - resides the famous Demidov (Demidoff) restaurant with authentic Russian food (There is live music and Gypsy music and dancers from 20.00). More than average prices but luxury service and romantic atmosphere. Further south, along nab. Reki Fontanki (before passing Zamokovaya rd. on your right), still on your right - stands Mikhailovsky (Michael) Castle (zamok) (Миха́йловский за́мок), 2, Sadovaya Ulitsa. St. Michael's Castle was built as a residence for Emperor Paul I by architects Vincenzo Brenna and Vasili Bazhenov in 1797-1801. Catherine The Great made a coup d'etat against her husband Peter III to gain access to the Russian Imperial throne and then ruled the country until her death in 1796. Her son, Paul I succeeded her, but, neither the nobility nor the royal guards liked or respected Paul and he lived his life in constant fear of assassination. In order to relieve his fears he ordered a fortified castle (a palace surrounded by deep ditches) to be built for him. Tsar Paul I disliked the Winter Palace where he never felt safe. The new royal residence was built like a castle around a small octagonal courtyard. The building with rounded corners was surrounded by the waters of the Moika River, the Fontanka River and two specially dug canals (the Church Canal and the Sunday Canal), transforming the castle area into an artificial island which could only be reached by bridges. Ironically, Paul I was assassinated only 40 nights after he moved into his newly built Mikhailovsky Castle. He was murdered on 12 March 1801, in his own bedroom, by a group of officers headed by his son, Alexander I. After Paul's death, the Tsar family returned to the Winter Palace. St. Michael's Castle was abandoned and in 1823 was given to the army's Main Engineering School. From then on, the building was known as the Engineers' Castle. In the early 1990s, St. Michael's Castle became a branch of the Russian Museum and now houses its Portrait Gallery, featuring official portraits of the Russian Emperors and Empresses and various dignitaries and celebrities from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Today the building hosts a branch of the Russian Museum. Opening hours: MON, WED, FRI - SUN - 10.00 - 18.00. THU - 13.00 - 21.00. Ticket offices close 30 minutes earlier. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays. Price for general ticket for visiting the Mikhailovsky Palace, Marble Palace, Stroganov Palace and St Michael's Castle - For adult visitors: 300 rubles, for students 150 rubles. Photography allowed - but, at the temporary exhibition photography and video shooting are forbidden.
From nab. Reki Fontanki - you can see part of Mikhailovsky Castle eastern facade:
The castle looks different from each side, as the architects used motifs of various architectural styles such as French Classicism, Italian Renaissance and Gothic. We turn on the first turn to the right - Zamokovaya ul. (Замковая ул.) and, immediately, to the left to the Kenovaya ul. (Кленовая ул.). From this nice avenue we can have a glance of the southern side of the castle and, even of its internal court. The Southern facade is particularly expressive and monumental. Standing at Kenovaya ul. with your face to the castle, to the north - enter its inner courtyard through the stone gate:
The northern facade looks onto the Summer Garden. Flanked by bronze statues of Hercules and Flora, it is reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance villa:
Return from Mikhailovsky Castle to Kenovaya road - now, your back to the castle (north) and face southward. In the middle of the tree-lined Kenovaya avenue stands the bronze Monument to Peter the Great (памятник Петру I). In 1716, emperor Peter the Great commissioned the Italian sculptor Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli to design an equestrian statue in commemoration of the Russian victories over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Rastrelli worked for eight years with a model of the monument before it was approved by the emperor in 1724. But as the emperor died the following year, work halted and the sculpture's casting was only completed after the sculptor's death, by 1747. Catherine the Great ALSO had ordered ANOTHER monument in memory of her predecessor Peter the Great - the Bronze Horseman, the most famous statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg near the Admirality and the Neva river. Only in 1800, during the reign of Tsar Paul I, was the Monument to Peter I finally erected. It was placed on a pedestal faced with green, red and white-shaded Finnish marble that is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes of two Russian victories over Sweden. Peter the Great led his troops to both victories: the Battle of Poltava and the Battle of Hangö. During World War II, the equestrian statue of Peter I was removed from its pedestal and sheltered from the 900-day German siege of the city. In 1945, the statue was restored and returned to its pedestal. It stands, more than 70 years - opposite the Mikhailovsky Castle:
From the middle of Kenovaya ul. turn LEFT (east) to Inzhenernaya ul.
After walking 130 m. you arrive to Ploschad (Square) Belinskogo- and on your left (nortside of the square) resides St. Petersburg Circus or Circus on Fontanka (Bolshoy Sankt-Peterburgskiy gosudarstvennyy tsirk),nab. Reki Fontanki, 3. The circus is under a massive restoration and closed to the public until JAN 2016. This is Russia’s first stone building specifically designed for the circus. It opened its doors in 1877. Several local and tourist were enthusiastic about the circus interiors (Dome) and its past performances. For online tickets and more information on shows in the restored circus - see: http://www.circus.spb.ru/en#_=_
Return to Kenovaya ul. and continue southward (your back to the Mikhailovsky Castle) - until you arrive to the Manezhnaya Ploschad (Manège Square) (Манежная площадь). Manège in French is Riding School. The shape of Manezhnaya Square resembles a right-angled triangle. Its southern side is a continuation of Italyanskaya Street. Its eastern side is Karavannaya street, which ends (in the south) in Nevsky Prospekt.
This is a nice and refreshing square with a big fountain. Around te fountain stand sculptures of four arcitects who took part in te design of this square and SPB, in general, all of them of Italian origin (almost half of the great buildings of central St. Petersburg were designed by Italians) : Francesco Bartholomeo Rastrelii. Carlo Rossi, Antonio Rinaldi and Giacomo Quarenghi:
We change our direction and head, now, to the west. From Manezhnaya Square we continue westward along Italyanskaya Street (which is parallel, north to Nevsky Prospekt). Immediately, on our right (north) is the 3 m. tall Statue of Ivan Turgenev. The statue, full with grandeur, was made by the sculptors Yan Neiman and Valentin Sveshnikov, who used Turgenev's death mask when sculpting the writer's face. Although he died in France, Turgenev was buried in the city, as he had requested.
Continue west along Italyanskaya street and turn LEFT (south) to Malaya Sadovaya Street (Малая Садовая Улица). This is a splendid, short (only 175 m. - the shortest in SPB) pedestrian street of cafes, terraces, and fountains. It runs between Italyanskaya Street and Nevsky Prospect. The pedestrian road is, frequently, decorated with outdoor exhibitions, posters or sculptures:
We do not continue towards Nevsky Prospekt. We return from Malaya Sadovaya Street to Italyanskaya Street (our face to the north). We turn LEFT (WEST) onto Italyanskaya, walk 400 m. westward and turn right onto Mikhaylovskaya ul. (ул. Михайловская) and the Arts Square or Ploshchad Iskusstv. The white, impressive building opposite - is the Russian Museum, Inzhenernaya Street, 4. Arts Square derives its name from the cluster of museums, theaters and concert halls that surround it. The square was only named Arts Square in 1940. From 1918-1940 it bore the name of the German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle. All the buildings lining the square are similar in design and form a harmonious, grandiose architectural ensemble. The square's plan and all its buildings were drawn up by the ... Italian architect Carlo Rossi:
In front, on the north side is the Russian Museum (State Museum of Russian Art). The past Mikhailovsky Palace, now, the Russian Museum, is the greatest single collection of Russian art in the world. The first building to the right (with the face to the Russian Museum), is the Mikhailovsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet. More to the right (east) - is the Ethnographic Museum (part of the Russain Museum, representing all the ethnic cultures of the former USSR). On your left (west side of the square) are the Brodsky Museum, the Mikhaylovsky Theatre (formerely, the Maly Opera and Ballet Theater), with old-fashioned lanterns adorning its doorways - still a well-respected and centrally located theater. On the south-east side of the square, is the Operettas and Musical Comedy Theatre (Санкт-Петербургский государственный театр музыкальной комедии), Italyanskaya ul., 13. Out of the square, on the east side of Mikhaylovskaya ul., leading to the square, is the former Nobles' Club, now the Shostakovich Philharmonia, home to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic or St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Mikhaylovskaya ul., 2 - the city's prime classical music venue. Its white-column hall has superb acoustics.
The Russian Museum, Mikhailovsky Palace: Open daily: 10.00 to 18.00. THU: 13.00 -21.00. Closed: Tuesdays. The museum’s central building is the yellow, white-columned Mikhailovsky Palace, built between 1819 and 1825 for Grand Duke Mikhail, the brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I. The building was bought by the government during the late 19th century and turned into the "Russian Museum of the Emperor Alexander III" in the beginning of the 1890s by the Tsar Alexander III. His son, Nicholas II, decided to open a museum in his father's honour and, in 1895, bought the Mikhailovskiy Palace to house the collection. Originally called the Alexandrovskiy Museum, it was opened to the public in 1898. Coordinated by architect Vasiliy Svinin, considerable changes were made to the interiors of the Mikhailovsky Palace. In place of its eastern wings, Svinin constructed the Ethnographic Museum. A new wing, the Benois Building, was added to the museum at the start of this century to help house the museum’s growing collections:
Today, the Russian Museum hosts several of the most important Russian art collections. The museum's collection includes over 400,000 artworks covering the complete history of Russian art, from 11th century icons to work by contemporary video artists. The Russian Museum in Mikhailovsky Palace excels in it's collection of 19th century works, which are housed on the second floor of the building. It is not until the works of the "Wanderers", a group of 14 students at the Imperial Academy of Art, who in 1863 set out to create a populist art for the whole of Russia. Among them are Ivan Shishkin, whose his realistic forest scenes are some of the most often copied images in Russia, and Nicholas Ge, whose his religious and historic works brought another kind of realism to their subjects.
Ivan Shishkin: Mast-tree grove. 1898:
The Last Supper, 1863, Nikolai Ge (1831-94):
Ilya Repin, one of the second generation of the Wanderers, and widely considered to be Russia's greatest realist painter, is very well represented in the Russian Museum, and his portrait of Leo Tolstoy in peasant dress and the gigantic Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council, 7 May 1901 are particularly impressive.
Barge Haulers on the Volga, Ilya Repin:
The last great painters of the 19th century like Vasily Surikov and Viktor Vasnetsov specialized in colourful, often violent, historical scenes - but, combined elements of mysticism and symbolism in their works:
Vasily Surikov, Taking a Snow Town (1891):
Victor Vasnetsov, Knight at the Crossroads (1882):
The Russian Museum of Ethnography (Российский этнографический музей) occupies the place of the eastern service wing, the stables and the laundry of the Mikhailovsk Palace. It houses a collection of about 500,000 items relating to the ethnography, or cultural anthropology, of peoples of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The museum was set up in 1902 as the ethnographic department of the Russian Museum. It is housed in a purpose-built Neoclassical building erected between 1902 and 1913 to Vasily Svinyin's design. The museum's first exhibits were the gifts received by the Russian Tsars from peoples of Imperial Russia. These were supplemented by regular expeditions to various parts of the Russian Empire which began in 1901. Further exhibits were purchased by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and other members of his royal family. The collection was not officially opened to the general public until 1923 and was not detached from the Russian Museum until 1934. When the Museum of the Peoples of the USSR in Moscow was shut down in 1948, its collections were transferred to the Ethnographic Museum in past Leningrad, now, St. Petersburg. Nice collection of costumes ,photographs, hand made accessories, precious metals, weaponry and ornaments. The museum exhibitions - are very interesting and colorful. The Jewish section was very moving and a great addition to the museum. Opening hours: MON - closed. TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: For adult visitors - 250 rubles, for students and children of school age under 18 - free of charge. Very reasonable prices for the quality souvenirs at the museum's gift shop:
On the north end of Mikhaylovskaya ul., opposite the southern facade of the Russian Museum stands the Monument to Alexander Pushkin. The monument was created by sculptor Mikhail Anikushin and erected in 1957 to mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg (the city was, of course, founded in 1703 but the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 delayed celebrations by a full four years). The statue stands with his back to the Russian Museum and looking over a small green area:
Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre resides in the west side of the Arts Square. A beautiful building and wonderful interior. It is beginning to rival even the world-famed Mariinsky Theatre with its repertoire of classic ballet and opera. The majority of its repertoire consisting of classic ballet and opera of the 19th century. Built 1831-1833 by Alexander Brullov, In order not to draw attention away from the palace, Brullov created a plain and simple neoclassical exterior for the building, saving his efforts and imagination for the theatre's richly decorated and ornate interiors: silver, velvet, mirrors, and crystal chandeliers - as well as a unique ceiling mural by the Italian artist Giovanni Busato depicting "The victory of the powers of enlightenment and science over the dark powers of ignorance" which dates from 1859:
From the Mikhailovsky Theater - we walk 550 m. to a nice, budget but busy restaurant in SPB - the Market Place at Nevsky Prospekt 24: head west on Inzhenernaya st. (ул. Инженерная) toward Griboyedov Canal Embankment (наб. канала Грибоедова), 85 m. Turn left onto Griboyedov Canal Embankment (наб. канала Грибоедова), 350 m, turn right onto Nevsky Prospekt (пр. Невский), 150 m and Marketplace (ресторан-маркет) is at
Nevsky Prospect, 24. See Tip 3.
Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands - including St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress:
Main Attractions: University Embankment, sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III,the Imperial Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, Twelve Collegia, Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov, Kunstkamera, the Zoological Museum, the stock exchange, Rostral Columns, Strelka, the Exchange (Birzhevaya) Bridge, Flying Dutchman (Letuchy Gollandets) ship, St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost), The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Alexander Park, Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station.
Tip 1: Vasilievsky Island.
Tip 2: Petrogradskaya Island.
Tip 3: Austeria restaurant.
Start: Truda Square (Ploschad Truda) (Площадь Труда). Catch bus line 27 which rides along Nevsky Prospekt (8 stops from ploshchad' Vosstaniya Square) and stops also in Truda Square. Vasilyevsky Island is served by Vasileostrovskaya and Primorskaya stations of St. Petersburg Metro (Line 3 , the Green line). There are also tramway lines.
End: Gorkovskaya (Горьковская) Metro station in Petrogradskaya island.
From Truda Square (see "From Grand Choral Synagogue to the Palace Square" blog) it is 650 m. walk to the Vasilievsky Island via Blagoveshchensky Bridge. Just keep waking northward from the square (to the Neva river direction). Cross the river over the Blagoveshchensky Bridge - having wonderful views of the southern bank of Vasilievsky Island:
Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Благовещенский мост), (formerly, Nikolaev bridge and Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) was the first bridge across the Neva River. in St. Petersburg. It connects Vasilievsky district (Vasilievsky Island) with the central part of the city. The bridge touches Vasilievsky Island at the Trezini Square slightly beyond the University embankment on the southern bank.
The sight of the bridge during the night hours is marvelous. Blagoveshchensky Bridge as most of Neva river bridges is a bascule bridge and is opened at night during the navigational season for large vessels to pass through. Watching the raising of the bridge, better from SPB mainland side, along one of the the embankments - is one of the great St. Petersburg experiences during the White Nights of June and July:
As we land upon Vasilievsky Island, after crossing the Blagoveshchensky Bridge, we see on our right (east) the University Embankment (Universitetskaya emb) (Университетская набережная). It is 1.2 km. long and it spans between Blagoveshchensky Bridge in the wets to the Palace Bridge in the east. The embankment or promenade (still open for vehicles) is lines with an ensemble of imperial Baroque buildings of the early 18th century, including (from west to east): the Academy of Arts, Menshikov Palace, the Twelve Colleges, the Kunstkamera (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography), Zoological Museum.
The first building, after crossing the bridge is the Academy of Arts. A pier or quay in front of the Academy of Arts building, adorned with two authentic sphinxes of Pharaoh Amenhotep III brought in 1832 from Thebes, Egypt, was designed by Konstantin Thon and built in 1832-1834. The Sphinxes are about 3500 years old. Their faces are portraits of Amenhotep III and the shape of their crowns indicates that Pharaoh Amenhotep III was the ruler of two kingdoms—the Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The sphinxes weigh about 23 tons each:
One of the Sphinxes and St. Issac's Cathedral in the background:
The Imperial Academy of Arts , 17, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, was established at 1757, by Ivan Shuvalov, to train Russian artists in the leading styles and techniques of West-Europe countries and sent its promising students to European capitals for further study. The main architect for the project was Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, whom Shuvalov invited from France to become the first professor of architecture at the Academy. De la Mothe was helped by Yury Felten and Alexander Kokorinov, who would become the first Russian professor to teach at the Academy. Training at the academy was virtually required for artists to make successful careers. The academy was abolished in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and was renamed several times. It established free tuition and was financed by the government; students from across the country competed fiercely for its few places annually. In 1947 the national institution was moved to Moscow, and much of its art collection was moved to the Hermitage. The building in St. Petersburg (formerly, Leningrad) had been transformed to the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Институт имени Репина), named in honor of one of Russia's foremost realist artists. Since 1991 it has been called the St. Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Open WED - SUN 11.00 - 18.00. Limited entry to the various halls and museums. Much depends on the person in the main entrance:
The Academy main facade (left: figure of Hercules, right: Flora):
Menshikov Palace, 15, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya (Меншиковский дворец) is the next attraction to the east of the Academy of Arts and along the University Embankment from west to east. It is called also as Palace of Peter II. The building is painted in ocre-yellow and decorated with beautifully-carved pillars. The palace is one of the first stone buildings erected in SPB. It is also the only private city structure to have survived from the beginning of the 18th century. Today, the palace is a public museum, a branch of the Hermitage Museum. The palace was founded in 1710 as a residence of Saint Petersburg Governor General Alexander Menshikov and built by Italian architects Giovanni Maria Fontana, and, later, German architect Gottfried Johann Schädel. Menshikov was the chief advisor of Peter-the Great and gained a significant wealth during Peter's reign period. On the death of Peter, in 1725, Catherine I was raised to the throne. The placing of her on the throne meant security for Menshikov and his ill-gotten fortune. During Catherine's short reign (February 1725 – May 1727), Menshikov was practically the absolute ruler of Russia. He was the De- facto ruler of Russia for two years. Pushkin in one of his poems alluded to Menshikov as "half-Tsar". The old nobility united to overthrow him, and he was deprived of all his dignities and offices and expelled from the capital. In 1727, Menshikov with his family was exiled to Siberia and his property was confiscated. As part of the State Hermitage, the palace is now used to display some of the museum's vast collection of European and Russian applied art from the early 18th century, as well as contemporaneous sculptures and paintings, all of which blend harmoniously with the beautifully restored interiors. The interiors have preserved to this day the design traditions of that era. The walls of the rich interiors are liberally dressed with marble, and the floors are covered with expensive glued-laminated parquet. Several rooms entirely covered with Dutch (Delft) tiles. The exhibits on display in the museum today are devoted to the history of Russian culture at the beginning of the 18th century. The collection includes rare works of art of the 17th and 18th centuries - including Menshikov's own belongings. Opening hours: daily 10.30 - 18.00. WED - 10.30 - 21.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: Adults: RUB 300, Students/children: free. Free admission to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month:
The next complex, on your left, along the University Embankment is the Twelve Collegia, or Twelve Colleges (Двeнaдцaть Коллегий). It is the alarge edifice from the Petrine era designed by Domenico Trezzini and Theodor Schwertfeger and built from 1722 to 1744. It is, actually, a Baroque three-storey, red-brick complex of 12 buildings is 400–440 meters long - its facade is along Mendeleevskaya liniyaa. Trezzini's idea was to underline the relative independence of each of the twelve collegia on other one hand, and their close interconnection in the system of state administration, on the other hand. The original design separated the 12 individual buildings. In subsequent restructuring, they would be connected to form the modern complex. The building is built of red bricks topped by stucco decorations in red and white.The buildings were designed to host 12 ministries of Peter-the-Great regime - with its joint facade symbolizing the unity of his reign. The building was planned to have uninterrupted view of Sterelka - and that is the reason it is vertical to the University Embankment. In 1891 the complex was purchased by the State University of St. Petersburg (Lenin studied here !):
Out of the Twelve Collegia stands the charming bronze Monument to Mikhail Lomonosov overlooking the Neva river. This three-meter bronze statue stands also on Mendeleevskaya Liniya between the Twelve Colleges (the main building of St. Petersburg State University) and the Academy of Sciences. Unveiled in 1986 to mark the 275th anniversary of the great scientist, poet, mathematician and father of Russian science. Lomonosov was a member of the Academy for over 20 years and, from 1758 until his death, rector of the Academic University:
250 m. further east - we meet, on our left, the Kunstkamera. It is a Baroque green-blueish building with a top, delicate tower (under restoration in summer 2015). It was built, during the years 1718-1734 by Georg Mattarnoviy. The Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology or the Kunstkamera is the city’s first museum which was founded in 1714 by Peter the Great. Peter the Great ordered Dr. Robert Areskin to move his personal collections and library from Moscow to the new capital and begin creating the first state public museum – the Kunstkamera. The collections, consisting of “fish, reptiles and insects in bottles”, mathematical, physics and chemistry instruments, and also books from the Tsar’s library, were put in Peter’s Summer Palace. For Peter the Great, it was extremely important to create an image of a changing Russia. The emperor had the habit of receiving ambassadors in his museum, and a tour of the museum was part of the visit programme for all important guests. The first public exhibition of the Kunstkamera was opened in 1719 in the “Kikin chambers” – the confiscated home of the disgraced boyar A. Kikin. At this time, it was also decided to build a special building. Peter chose the location for the Kunstkamera himself in the centre of the new capital. This fascinating place is an essential S. Petersburg sight, although not one for the faint-hearted. Think twice about bringing young children here. Yet, the famous babies in bottles make up just a small part of the enormous collection that also encompasses some wonderfully kitsch dioramas exhibiting rare objects and cultural practices from all over the world, and you can easily spend an hour or two picking through these. Ground level - Museums shop, checkroom. Floor 1 - North America, Amazonia, Exhibition "The world of an Object" Japan, Africa. Floor 2 - Middle East and Central Asia,
China, Mongolia, Korea, Indochina, India. Indonesia, First Natural Science Collections of the Kunstkamera. Floor 3 - Mikhail Lomonosov and the Academy of Sciences in the 18th century with a recreation of his study-laboratory, Temporary Exhibition. Floor 4 - First Astronomical observatory of the Academy of Sciences. Floor 5 - Great Gottorp globe, a rotating globe and planetarium all in one. Note: this museum is not wheelchair accessible. Photos and Video - allowed. Opening hours: daily from 11.00 - 19.00, Last admission is at 18.00. Closed: Mondays and the last Tuesday of each month. Price: RUB 250.00. Students/children: RUB 50.00. Admission is free on the third Friday of each month. Many visitors hail this museum as an immensely interesting, fascinating and "don't miss" one. But, others think that the many odd items collected are "non-appetizing and even disgusting" which will turn your stomach, "a museum which needs updating" and "not for delicate people".:
Hold your breath:
The next block along the University Embankment is the Zoological Museum,1-3, Universitetskaya Nabereshnaya. In 1832 the zoological collections were split from the Kunstkamera and in 1896 moved nearby to its present location in the former southern warehouse of the Saint Petersburg Bourse (constructed in 1826-1832). In 1931 the Zoological Institute was established within the Academy of Sciences, which included the museum. The collection was started over 250 years ago, but has only been open to visitors since 1901. Much of the collection consists of stuffed and mounted animals. It was, of course, the custom in 17th and 18th century zoology to simply kill everything and bring it back from foreign places. Its collection has been increased dramatically in recent years due to numerous expeditions throughout Russia, to the Arctic circle, to Antarctica and to the tropics. Opening hours: SAT - THU: 11.00 - 18.00 (winter - 17.00). Closed: Fridays. Prices: Adult: RUB 200, Students/children: RUB 70. Free admission last Thursday of each month (excluding periods of high school holidays). Not suitable for wheelchairs:
The first hall, marine mammals:
The second hall, fishes:
The main attraction, in the main hall, is the enormous skeleton of a blue whale:
The third Hall - a Mammoth skeleton:
This is the world’s only stuffed and mounted adult mammoth:
In the entrance - the monument of Karl Ernst von Baer:
Next eastward we arrive to Birzhevaya Ploschad. On your left an impressive building - the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (also Bourse) and on your right - the red Rostral Columns. Both, are significant examples of Greek Revival architecture. Designed by French (or Swiss) architect Thomas de Thomon, and inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum. The stock exchange, Birzhevaya Ploschad 4, now holds the Naval Museum, was constructed between 1805 and 1810. The Old Stock Exchange was sited to fill the majestic sweep of the Spit (in Russian: Strelka) of Vasilievsky Island, just opposite the Winter Palace on SPB mainland. A monumental sculptural group similar in form to a quadriga featuring Neptune, and symbolizing maritime commerce, is mounted above the portico. Both inside and outside the Bourse, a motif of the semicircle is recurrent. The interior is closed and the whole building is waiting for its new restoration:
The Rostral Columns: on your right, opposite the Stock Exchange (Bourse) building on the Neva, were completed in 1811. The name of the Rostral Columns is derived from the Latin word for a ship's beak, Rostrum. De Thomon, the architect, designed a semicircular overlook with circular ramps descending to a jetty projecting into the river and SPB city mainland. This formal approach, is framed by two rostral columns centered opposite the portico of the Stock Exchange. The Doric columns sit on a granite plinth and are constructed of brick coated with a deep terra cotta red stucco and decorated with bronze anchors and four pairs of bronze ship prows (rostra). At the foot of each column are pairs of imposing marbles sculptures, allegorical figures of mythical gods representing four major rivers in Russia: the Neva, Dnieper, Volga and Volkhov. The Rostral Columns were originally intended to serve as oil-fired navigation beacons in the 1800s , and, originally, were topped by a light in the form of a Greek brazier and lit by oil (on some public holidays gas torches are still lit on them). Originally, the pillars had been put up as memorials of Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Northern War:
The sculpture standing at the foot of one of the Rostral Columns personifies the Neva:
Rostral Columns - Dnieper River god:
Strelka (Strelka Vasilyevskogo ostrova) (Tongue of the Land) is the name of the eastern tip of Vasilievsky island. In 1733 the port of St. Petersburg was set up here. The port grew quickly as trade with Western Europe increased. The columns were built as beacons to guide the constantly growing number of ships during St. Petersburg's long dark nights. In 1885 the port moved to the Gulf of Finland to accommodate larger vessels and increased traffic and the beacons were decommissioned. As we said before - the lamps are still lit on public holidays and during ceremonies. The Strelka also boasts one of the best views in the city: you look left to the Peter and Paul Fortress and right to the Hermitage, the Admiralty and St Isaac's Cathedral. It is highly Popular Place with locals. A lot of new-married couples visit this place and break a bottle of Vodka or Champagne for happiness and good luck. On many evenings there is music being played and people are dancing, especially in the weekends. A great spot for pictures. Try the Strelka also at night for great photos as many buildings in SPB are lit up. The best time for the pictures is the afternoon: In the morning, you have to take them against the sun:
View of the Winter Palace from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):
View of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral (see Tip 2 below) from the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island (Strelka):
We shall walk around the Sterelka and choose between two options:
staying in Vasilievsky island and continue along nab Makarova westward. It is quite long walk (approx. 900 m.) from Birzhevoy bridge (most) to Tuchkov most (bridge) along the Makarova street. On our left, on Makarova, the Institute of Russian Literature or Pushkin House ((Пушкинский дом, Pushkinsky Dom). It is an institute affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences (under restoration in summer 2015):
In case you are hungry: turn left in Sredny prospekt (the 5th turn to the left on Makarova) and take the 2nd turn to the right (per. Tuchkov). On your left you finf the Ristorante Villagio: pleasant, comfort chairs, nice decoration, quality food, very polite service, good AC, clean services and medium prices:
We return to the Makarova street (from Tuchkov road - turn right to Sredny prospekt and left to Makarova) and head westward to Tuchkov bridge: the second and west bridge linking Vasilievsky island and Petrogradskaya island. We cross the Neva river over Tuchkov bridge when, on our left, is the Petrovsky Stadium:
It is quite complicated here to find a way eastward. Find the Sportivnaya Metro station walk along the subway (underground pass) and exit at the most eastern tunnel of the station. Head eastward along Dobrolyubova avenue. On your right is the Hospitality Business Centre and a nice fountain. Further east - on your left a church and on your right - Alibra school. The Dobrolyubova avenue is lined (especially, on your left / north) several Art Nouveau buildings:
The Dobrolyubova avenue ends with the quay where the Flying Dutchman warship is standing. Here, we skip to Tip 2.
Main Attractions: Hotel Hermitage, Boulingrins Gardens, Place de Casino, Casino de Monte-Carlo, Cafe de Paris, Hotel de Paris, Casino Gardens and Promenade, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the “Hexa Grace”, Grimaldi Forum, the Japanese Garden, Larvotto Promenade, Av. Princesse Grace, Boulevard du Larvotto, Villa Sauber, (Prince's Palace of Monaco - from here: skip to Monaco - part 2).
Part 1: Monte-Carlo.
Part 2: Monaco-Ville.
Part 3: Jardin Exotique de Monaco.
Duaration: One VERY BUSY, LONG and WONDERFUL day. PLEASE, start as early as possible (especially, in case you are coming from and returning to Nice).
Weather: avoid HOT and wet days. A lot of climbing. long walks in very changing terrains. The exotic garden, in the end, of the route is quite demanding on its own. We use public buses along this route.
Walking Distance: approx. 15 km.
Start & End: Monte Carlo Railway station.
Introduction: We devote the first half of the day to Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the Monte Carlo Casino in the east and northeast. THe second half is centered in Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply "The Rock". The La Condamine district is NOT included in this itinerary.
The best transportation ways to go from Nice to Monaco:
Nice to Monaco By Bus:
The bus is a convenient and cheap. view all the way to Monaco.
From Nice downtown to Monaco and Menton – Line 100: only €1.50 per person (1 way) (summer 2015) and takes about 40-45 minutes. The bus stops in Nice at: Le port and Avenue Gustavin. It leaves every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on Sundays and French holidays. The 45-minute drive to Monaco is absolutely stunning, so sit on the right side of the bus if you can. Don’t be tempted to take the Monaco Express 100X, as you will save only 10 minutes driving time but will miss all the gorgeous scenery.
From Nice Airport to Monaco - Line 110: The Bus starts from the Nice Cote d’azur airport (NCE) to Monaco and beyond. The trip will cost you €20 and takes about 45 minutes. Timetable and detailed pricing.
Nice to Monaco By Train: The train runs faster and offers some magnificent French Riviera views all along the way. It takes about 22 minutes to go from Nice Ville station to Monaco Monte-Carlo station for an average price of €3.60.
Typical weekdays' timetable from Nice Ville to Monaco:
05.25, 05.56, 06.25, 06.40, 06.56, 07.10, 07.25, 07.40, 07.55, 08.10, 08.25, 08.40, 09.00, 09.10, 09.25, 09.40, 09.55, 10.26, 10.55, 11.25.
Transportaion in Monaco: Monaco isn’t a very large place but getting around on foot can be quite tiring after a while due to the very uneven terrain and the heat in the summer. Fortunately buses are frequent and very cheap, with a very extensive network: a single ticket is just 2 € anywhere in Monaco and an even better deal is the one-day unlimited pass which costs just 5 €. We shall use the public transportation, along this route, at least a couple of times.
We took the train from Nice Ville. Busy, but not crowded. Convenient. Reasonable prices. Might be some delays in arrival. Take the cheap TER trains. The TGV trains are expensive and reservation is mandatory.
From Monte-Carlo railway station head southeast on Avenue d'Alsace toward Pont Sainte-Dévote, 30 m. Turn left onto Pont Sainte-Dévote
25 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Suisse, 400 m.
In front of us Square Beaumarchais and Hotel Hermitage.The building exterior is stunning. An oasis of luxury - 5 minutes from the railway station and from the Casino. We tried to enter the hotel and climb to its highest floor - for a stunning view over the port - but, we were denied:
Turn LEFT onto Avenue de la Costa. On our left are high-rise buildings:
200-250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue de la Costa - and you see, on your right, the Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens and Montecarlo Pavillions. The mix of the futuristic pavilions in the Boulingrins Gardens (bulbous structures clad in diagonal-shaped aluminum panels) and the iconic Belle Époque buildings of the Casino Square is stunning. The pavilions have been built in a pedestrian-only zone, and access to the Place du Casino can be gained through a path snaking, north to south, between the five pavilions and surrounding foliage. People with limited mobility are also able to use the path. The pebble-shaped pavilions structures have been surrounded with exotic species like palms.
The Casino Monte-Carlo with the ornate gardens of Casino Square in FRONT of it:
Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens. Stretched uphill in front of (north-west) the casino, bordered, from both sides by the Alees des Boulingrins, the French style garden of lawns and magnificent fountains sits alongside the “Little Africa” garden, with its exuberant species:
Our next destination is the Place de Casino with the world famous, legendary Casino. The Place du Casino lie between the Boulingrins Gardens (upper level) and the Casino itself (lower level). The Casino square of Monte Carlo (Place de casino) is beautifully decorated. Nice square but, frequently, very crowded. The fountain and flowers make it look spectacular on the view of the Casino in front. Next to it there is the Parking lot where expensive old and new model cars like the Rolls Royce, the American Cadillac are packed. Many sightseers are looking into the casino and taking "selfies" alongside the extravagant cars parked near the casino:
A bit lower in the slope, stands the Mecca of table games, legendary for its Belle Epoque style - the Casino de Monte-Carlo is also world-renowned among gaming circles. Nowhere else in Europe do you get the feeling of such fancy, concentrated wealth. It’s utterly absorbing. The most celebrated gambling spot in the world is so exotic of reputation that it has to be seen. Gaining entrance is a doddle. First ensure that you’re over 18. Then leap up the steps, show your passport or other id., hand over 10.10 euros and that’s it. For the last 150 years, it has offered exceptional table games in a unique style. Open every day starting 14.00. Admission charges : 10 €, for people over 18 with ID card or passport. VISITS OF THE GAMING ROOMS AT CASINO DE MONTE-CARLO WHEN GAMES ARE NOT OPERATING (before 14.00): Salle Renaissance / Salle Europe / Salle des Amériques / Salle Blanche / Salons Touzet / Salle Médecin (Private). Opening Times : everyday from 9.00 until 12.00. Prices: - Individual : €10 per person - Group: €7 per person (minimum 10 people – Free access for the guide or tour group leader). Desk located in the Salle Amérique. Payment in cash (credit cards will soon be accepted – no cheques). From 14.00 - regarding the new organization, groups, guides and tour leaders will no longer be able to enter the gaming rooms in the Casino of Monte-Carlo when the games are open i.e. from 14.00. Instead groups, guides and tour leadersare now very welcome in the morning from 9.00 until 12.00 to visit the prestigious Casino de Monte-Carlo when the games are closed. Tourist groups wishing to visit the Casino de Monte-Carlo during gaming hours (starting from 14.00) must enter as individual clients and meet requirements (e.g. dress code) (correct attire mandatory. No uniforms. Jacket recommended after 20.00 in the Salons Privés. Casino facilities: Salons Touzet : European Roulette, English Roulette, Trente et Quarante, Punto Banco, Poker Texas Hold’Em Ultimate, Black Jack. Opening of the Salons Touzet : every day from 14.00. Terrasse Salle Blanche : European Roulette / Black Jack / Punto Banco
Opening of the terrace Salle Blanche: 14.00. every day (depending on the climate, closed in winter, open only in the summer evenings when the weather is warm. Opening hours of private gaming areas:
European Roulette, Baccarat Chemin de Fer, Black Jack and Punto Banco: open Thursday through Sunday and holidays starting at 16.00. Trente et Quarante: starting from 22.00. You are not able to go inside with hand carries or a stroller, Everything have to be checked in (and very expensive). The best idea is to take turn and the one will tour while the other one watch the kids and/or stuffs. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, food service establishments, and nightclubs throughout Monaco:
Another spot in the Place de Casino is the Cafe de Paris or Brasserie du Cafe de Paris - for people and cars watching, expensive food and elegant premises and posh waiters. With your back to the Casino - it is on your right. Inside, a warm decor featuring Belle Epoque style windows, recalling the old Parisian bistros, creates a bright and friendly atmosphere. Always busy and relaxed. The best time to go is for a late breakfast or lunch. Be prepared to wait for a outside table as they are always in demand in sunny days. Expensive. Slow and polite service. Food and drinks - not exceptional...:
Also included in Place du Casino is Hotel de Paris (opposite the Cafe. With the back to the Casino - on your left) - the spot to stay if you've just broken the bank in Monte Carlo. Built in 1864 using the very best materials of the period. The hotel has featured in numerous films, including Confessions of a Cheat (1936), The Red Shoes (1948), Iron Man 2 (2010), Monte Carlo (2011), and two James Bond films; Never Say Never Again (1983) and Golden Eye (1995). It was also portrayed in the 2012 animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted:
We continue to the Casino Gardens and Promenade behind the Casino complex.Then nip to the sea-front. The Monte Carlo Casino’s main façade faces inland. It’s worth popping around the back, to the sea-side of the building. With our face to the Casino - we take its left wings (Gucci shops) and we walk around the Casino complex to its back side.The immediate back side of the Casino is blocked (no access):
So we take the stairs east and behind the Casino leading to the Casino Gardens and Promenade. On our left is Cafe Horizon:
There are extensive construction works around - and you are also blocked entering the space in front of the Opera building (see below). We slight left, surrounding the back of the Bar du Soleil. Here we enter an amazing terrace with stunning views to the Port. Do not miss the huge cruising ships resting, lazily, in the deep blue waters of the Port:
Now, turn back with your face to the city, Casino hill and the mountains and your back to the Port. On your right - you see the Opera (a bit from the distance). The Opéra de Monte-Carlo is situated behind the casino, at the south-east side of the square (the hilly side direction). It is, formally, included in the Casino complex.The opera house is part of the Monte Carlo Casino. The architect Charles Garnier designed this opera building (Salle Garnier) and also designed the Paris opera house now known as the Palais Garnier. The Salle Garnier is much smaller, 524v seatings, compared to about 2,000 for the Palais Garnier, and unlike the Paris theatre, which was started in 1861 and only completed in 1875, the Salle Garnier was constructed in only eight and a half months. Nevertheless, its ornate style was heavily influenced by that of the Palais Garnier, and many of the same artists worked on both theatres. Although the Monte Carlo theatre was not originally intended for opera, it was soon used frequently for that purpose and was remodeled in 1898–99 by Henri Schmit, primarily in the stage area, to make it more suitable for opera. The hall was inaugurated on 25 January 1879 with a performance by Sarah Bernhardt dressed as a nymph. The first opera performed there was Robert Planquette's Le Chevalier Gaston on 8 February 1879, followed by three additional operas in the first season. The annual season starts at mid-November. Baroque opulent building is spectacle on its own with VERY NICE architecture. Overlooking the sea. You can walk around the exterior with some views of the water. No touristic guided visits like in Paris. If you can get tickets during the short opera season - try to go. World class opera in a beautiful ornate and intimate space at reasonable prices:
The whole area around is itself pretty impressive. It also gives onto a huge terrace which doubles as roof of the Rainier III Auditorium which in turn stretches out over the sea on piles. This whole sea-frontage is a monumental puzzle of great 20th-century buildings pushing out to sea, whose roofs are the floors of something else. Or gardens. Or sites for contemporary art. It’s an insight into just how cleverly Monaco has maximized the use of very limited space. So sophisticated is it that one is surprised to see something as elemental as the sea lapping away underneath. Spend time exploring the Casino Gardens and Terraces with their magnificent flowerbeds and diverse species of plants. Overlooking the sea the terraces bathed in sun invite you to stroll along them:
A Ballerina statue of Marco Lodola (1996) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Reina Marianna (Manolo Valdes, 2004) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Adam and Eve - F. Butero, 1981:
View of the Casino and the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of apartments hotel from the Casino gardens and promenade:
Downhill, the “Hexa Grace” by Victor Vasarely (Hexagrace - Le Ciel, la Mer, la Terre : the Sky, the Sea, the Earth), a hexagon-shaped Mosaic Pool designed by Victor Vasarely in 1979 ) located on the rooftop of Monaco's Center of Congress building terrace overlooking the sea, are the masterpieces which are worth the visit:
East to the Casino and the Opera (in the most eastern edge of the Casino Gardens) - you can see the Budhaa Bar. Upscale trendy restaurant. Excellent Asian Cuisine with a contemporary design, flare and decoration. The vibe is very lively in the restaurant. This restaurant is worth a visit as a nice change of pace from traditional french cuisine. Of course prices aren't exactly cheap, as in the rest of the principality:
From the Casino Garden and Promenade there are clear signs leading your way to our next destination - the Japanese garden (the path goes when the Saranapale Building is on your right and you pass through Cafe Twiga on your right and FORUM GRIMALDI on your left as well). The walk through the path is very rewarding with marvelous scenery !!!:
Forum Grimaldi on your left:
... and the sea on your right:
The Grimaldi Forum (quartier, Larvotto) is a conference and congress centre located on the seafront between the Monte Carlo Casino (west) and the Japanese Garden (east) on Monaco's eastern beach . Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra regularly perform there. This is also the venue of the EVER Monaco exhibition held March annually. During the renovation of Salle Garnier in the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2004–05, operas were presented at the Salle des Princes in the Grimaldi Forum. Grimaldi Forum also hosts the draw for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, including the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award award. It also plays host to the draw for the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League:
Otherwise, if you want to return to the Casino Square: head northeast on Avenue des Spélugues toward Avenue de la Madone, 260 m. Avenue des Spélugues turns slightly left and becomes Avenue Princesse Grâce, 120 m. Slight right to stay on Avenue Princesse Grâce, 40 m. At the roundabout, take the 4th exit onto Av. Princesse Grace, 160 m and you arrive to the Japanese Garden.
Avenue Princesse Grâce and Houston Palace skyscraper:
The Japanese Garden (FREE admission, 9.00 – sunset) (note: there is WC in the garden) is a magnificent garden, designed by the landscape architect Yasuo Beppu. An authentic work of art, it blends stone, water and plants in marvelous harmony. This park at the foot of the city is blessed with a special atmosphere. Peaceful, stunning, authentic with a waterfall, tea house, covered terrace, large pond with koi fish, lots of stepping stones, stream, red bridge and authentic pines and plants. accentuated by the use of water sprays on the bushes of azalea, rhododendrons and camellias. Some good views of the coast from around the area. It is a small garden and it takes no more than 20-30 minutes to stroll around its paths. DO NOT MISS THIS GARDEN - A SUPERB DELIGHT:
Exiting the japanese Garden - we continue walking eastward along the seafront Larvotto Promenade - now, lined with sculptures along its left (north side). It is 700 m. walk until the end of this fantastic promenade:
La Petite Sirene - Suhlgard, 2000:
Princesse Grace, 2007. On our right is the restaurant "La Rose des Vents":
Le Pecheur (The Fisherman) - Gustave Dussart:
We are, almost, in the most eastern edge of Larvotto Promenade (Plage du Larvotto and Miami Plage):
At last we arrive to a dead end of Larvotto Promenade - here we find a marvelous fountain:
We turn to the left and ascend the stairs leading to Av. Princesse Grace. On our right is Hotel Le Meridien Beach Plaza. Opposite the hotel - another high-rise building:
Continue 250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue Princesse Grace and we arrive to the Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay on our right - another stunning hotel, partially, hidden behind its elegant walls:
Opposite the Monte Carlo Bay hotel stretches the Formula 1 racing street (Avenue Princesse Grace):
Beyond Monte Carlo Bay hotel the Avenue Princesse Grace continues eastward along Roduebrune-cap-Martin beach (the northern side of Monte-Carlo bay):
From the northern side of Avenue Princesse Grace, opposite side of Monte Carlo Bay hotel - we used an ELEVATOR to ascend to Boulevard du Larvotto, an elevated road. We are in Monaco's Larvotto District and we'll take the rare opportunity to walk, on foot, back, with our face to the south-west - along one of the most luxurious areas in Monaco. The Boulevard du Larvotto was built in 1956 to replace the railway line (the railway arrived in Monaco on 12 October 1868.) The name of this road, "Larvotto," derives from the word "Revoto," which was found on a map dating from 1602. It was also known as "Ruovoto," meaning "the hollow." In the 18th century it was referred to as "Prevotto," then "Larevotto," finally becoming "Larvotto," the current name of this district, an area that is very popular with tourists in summer.
On our right - Le Florestan is a breath-taking 13-story high-rise building:
200-250 m. further south-west in Boulevard du Larvotto is the Floridian Palace (No. 523):
We continue to walk along posh and elegant high-rise buildings in Boulevard du Larvotto until we hit a small exotic small garden in on our left. Here, we take the stairs and descend to Av. Princesse Grace:
In Av. Princesse Grace - on our left is Forum Grimaldi and on our right is Villa Sauber - one (of two) part of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 17 av. Princesse-Grace. The Museum’s two (recently opened) venues are located at: Villa Paloma, 56 boulevard du Jardin Exotique and Villa Sauber in 17 Avenue Princesse Grace. We face, now, the second one. With a focus on modern, contemporary works of art, these newly re-designed venues present two expositions annually per venue and spotlight the cultural, historic and artistic virtues of Principality. The museum villa is one of the last Belle Époque villas in Monaco. Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00 until 18.00. From June 1st until September 30th from 11.00 till 19.00. Closed on January 1st, May 1st, 4 days of the Grand Prix, November 19th and December 25th. Prices: Full price NMNM ticket (Villa Paloma + Villa Sauber) 6€, Groups 4€ (min. 15 people). Combined ticket NMNM / Exotic Garden / Anthropological Museum: 10€. Free entrance every Sunday. Free for anyone under 26 years old, scholar groups and groups of children, Monaco citizens:
Av. Princesse Grace changes, a bit, its direction and slights southward. 350 m. further we arrive to a huge round-about. On the east side of this round-about (Rond-Point du Portier) you can see sales agencies of the most grandiose cars' brands:
From here it is more than 1 km. climb to the Casino hill. Opposite the building, in the photo below,
you can catch bus No. 6 and get off ONE STOP AFTER the CASINO. Then, catch bus No. 2 to the Royal Palace and drop off near PLace de la Visitation and rue Emile de Loth. Another option is to take bus No. 2 to the Place D'Armes (see below) and climb on foot in a very scenic path or (stairway to the Prince's Palace of Monaco.
From here - skip to the "Monaco - Part 2 - Monaco Ville" for the second half of the day in Monaco-Ville.
Main Attractions: Jardins Biovès, Palais de l'Europe, Prom. du Soleil, Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, Menton Old Market, Quai Napoléon III, the Bastion Museum, Quai Gordon Bennett, Quai Bonaparte, Basilique Saint-Michel, Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs, Cimetière du vieux Château, Menton Hotel de Ville, Hotel L'Orient.
Introduction: Menton, the little-known last stop on France's famous coast before you cross into Italy. First of all, its extraordinary setting between mountains and sea. Second, the beaches – a mix of stony and sandy, public and private – are packed in high summer, but, almost deserted - out of season. Third, its micro-climate – said to be warmer than the rest of France. Fourth, its wealth of citrus trees and exotic gardens. Menton is proud of its lemons everywhere. Shops are crammed with lemon products. Menton may not have Saint-Tropez's party people, Cannes' film stars or Monte Carlo's high rollers, but that's what makes the town so appealing. It has buckets of old-fashioned charm.
Short history: The first primitive habitation was grouped around a chateau on the hill of Pépin, west of the current town. In the 13th century the family of Puypin (Podium Pinum) bought the domain from the Genoise family of Vento and built a chateau – that gave birth to the town of Menton. Menton was acquired in 1346 by Grimaldi of Monaco, and remained in their possession until 1848, when it proclaimed itself a Ville Libre and was put under the protection of the King of Sardinia. In 1860, the town voted to become part of France.
Festivals and Events: FEB - MAR - FETE DU CITRON - Lemons Festival, parades, fireworks, fantastic experience in the middle of the winter. MAY (Each SAT) - May Musical Concerts - "Jeunes Artistes Musiciens". AUG - Festival International de Musique de Menton - Chambre Music. DEC - New Year Festival. Brocante - Flea Market: Every FRI, every second SUN - Mail du Bastion. Market days: Daily: Marché du Carei, Promenade du Maréchal Leclerc. SAT: Marché du Bastion, Quai Napoléon III.
Duration: There's enough to see and do in Menton, even for casual touring during non-festival time, that you should plan a couple of days or more. With easy access to several picturesque mountain villages, as well as the easy train connections along the coast, this would be an excellent base for a long stay. We spent, there, ONLY half a day. Our best bet - spend a SPLENDID full day in this charming town.
Orientation: in case you opt spending just half-a-day in Menton - try to choose the second half of the day. It is cooler and the sights (to the east) from the Basilica and Old Castle Cemetery to the sea are gorgeous - when the sun is on your back (west).
Start and End: Gare de Menton
Transportaion: Half-hourly trains connect the whole Riviera from Menton’s two stations; ideal for excursions to Monaco or Nice or for lunch in San-Remo, Italy. Buses run frequently between the Nice airport and Monaco and Menton. Separate bus routes connect Menton with these nearby interior towns and villages: Gorbio; Saint Agnes; Les Cabrolles; Castillon - Sospel; Castellar; Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Beausoleil - Monaco. The Tourist / Petit Train de Menton has a 30 minute, 7 km tour of the town. Price: 6 euros; kids 3 euros.
The trains from Nice and Monaco bring us to the Gare de Menton, Avenue de la Gare opposite rue Albert 1 er. Head northeast along Avenue de la Gare, 65 m. Continue onto Avenue de la Gare
120 m, turn right onto Avenue de Verdun for 350 m and you face the Jardins Biovès, 7 Avenue de Verdun. It is a a pretty park in the middle of Avenue Boyer with a variety of flowers, shrubs, statues, and shaded benches. Located in the heart of the city opposite the Tourist Office of Menton. These gardens are named after Emile Biovès, mayor of Menton in the late nineteenth century. The night illuminations here is quite magnificent and definitely deserves a visit.
DO NOT MISS THE LEMONS FESTIVAL, every year in February. At Christmas and during the Lemon Festival , the gardens have a special decoration - wherein figurines and decorations are all constructed out of tonnes of lemons. Every year the festival is centered around another theme. In 2016 the main theme was China, Budhaa and the Far East cultures. No use coming to see these gardens between Christmas and mid February. They're all boarded up and full of workmen preparing for the Lemons Festival. The entrance, then, is under admission fee of several euros (around 10 euros !):
Palais de l'Europe, 8 Avenue Boyer is in the opposite (northern bank of the Boyer Avenue. Here resides the Office de Tourisme de Menton. A magnificent building dating back to the beginning of the century, houses an art gallery on the ground floor which is home to the best of contemporary art in this town. Open all year: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00). Prices:
We continue walking south-east until the end of Avenue Boyer with our face to the Casino Barrière Menton. Cross the Prom. du Soleil and approach the seashore - turning LEFT (north-east) along the Promenade du Soleil. One can wander for hours without tiring, always along this wonderful avenue decorated with sumptuous flower beds.
Walking along the promenade - this building is on your left (north):
280 m. north-east from the Casino, still on your left, is Le Royal Westminster Hotel, 28-30 Avenue Félix Faure. It is an old-fashioned hotel, but, with moderate prices and fantastic views of the sea (and sunrises or sunsets):
Here and there - Moorish-style houses along the promenade:
We walk 350 m. further north-east along the promenade du Soleil (and it changes its name to Quai de Monleon) and we see on our left the Musée Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman, 2 Quai de Monleon. THERE ARE TWO MUSEUMS OF JEAN COCTEAU in Menton. This is the newer one (the second and the older is the Bastion Museum - see below). A terrific building. Beautiful building with extraordinary architecture. Writer (Les Enfants Terribles,1929), artist, poet, painter, designer,producer, actor, publicist and film director (drew inspiration from filmmaker René Clair) Jean Cocteau was one of the most influential creative figures in the Parisian avant-garde between the two World Wars. Jean Cocteau was born on July 5, 1889, in Maisons-Laffitte, France. He spent most of his life in Paris, where he became part of the artistic avant-garde and was known for his variety of accomplishments. Over a 50-year career, he wrote poetry, novels and plays; created illustrations, paintings and other art objects; and directed influential films, including: Le Sang d'un Poète (The Blood of a Poet), The Beauty and the Beast, Les Parents Terribles and Orpheus. He died on October 11, 1963. THe museum collection illustrates the many varied, and often extraordinary, facets of Jean Cocteau and how he used his range of artistic talents to create and design over his lifetime. OPen everyday (except of Tuesdays) 10.00 - 18.00. The ticket price of 8 euros covers entry to both museums (also entrance to the nearby older museum/branch of Cocteau):
A few steps further east along Quai de Monleon (behind the Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman courtyard) - you find the
Menton Old Market (Marche'). A covered (disused) market. A stunning complex. A gloriously dilapidated Belle Epoque structure built in 1898 by famed local architect Adrien Rey.
We return to Jean Cocteau - Collection Severin Wunderman and continue walking eastward along Quai de Monleon. Its continuation is the Quai Napoléon III. Here is, actually, the Old Port of Menton. From the Quai Napoléon III - you can see the harbour of Menton, with the Basilica of Saint-Michel beyond:
Quai de Monleon meets Quai Napoléon III in a square and, here, stands the Bastion Museum - the second (and the older) branch of Cocteau Museum. Open everyday (except Tuesdays) 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. PRice: 3 euros. The Bastion, a small 17th-c for was converted by Jean Cocteau into an exhibition place for his work, including drawings, paintings and tapestries. The building of the museum is a part of Menton walls and faces the Old Port (Bastion du Vieux Port). The Bastion is illuminated at night. The Bastion was built in the 17th century by Honoré II, Prince of Monaco. Jean Cocteau restored the bastion himself, decorating the alcoves, reception hall and outer walls with mosaics made from pebbles. The Bastion Museum opened in 1966, three years after Cocteau's death. A new exhibition of Cocteau's work is installed in the Bastion every year.
We change our direction of walking and turn northward along Quai Gordon Bennett (which continues further north as Promenade de la Mer). Both of these routes start at the Bastion Square (south) and end at the Victoria Square (north) (between the beaches of Sablettes and the Bastion). Both of these ways are under construction (summer 2015) and it is a new traffic scheme. The views to your right (east and north-east) are stunning: marvelous port/marina and the Maritime-Alps mountains in the background:
We turn left to the Menton Old Town in Quai Bonaparte, pass a small park on our left and we head westward along the elongated Place du Cap. On our right and left small shops and splendid shopping (pedestrian only) centre. Try to taste the ice-cream in Le Cafe du Vieux Port:
Turn and climb RIGHT (north) to Rue de Logettes. On your left a beautiful pottery and flowers shop:
Follow the signs of "Basilique St. Michel". On our way we pass the Place des Logettes:
Turn right and walk under the ancient arch to Rampe St.Michel - very narrow and quaint street. Here, you start a scenic ascending staircase:
From here you get a nice view to the port (Menton Vieux Port) and the Garavan beach. You can see, even, far across to Italy:
Further up (now very close to the Cathedral) - a stunning view of the shore strip with the old, persimmon and orange-colored houses in this ancient part of the town:
The ascent through the series of flights of stairs to the “Basilique Saint-Michel” is a wonderful experience. A rare jewel of Baroque art. It's a landmark on the Menton skyline and it is illuminated every night. More than 100,000 tourists come to see the site every year. Even before you see and enter the magnificent Basilica - the extensive courtyard ("parvis") which is in front of it is a unique sight. The more you ascend and approach the church - the more grandiose are the sights. There is also (on your left) a welcome fountain with drinkable water just outside the church, which you will need before continuing the climb up to the old monastery and cemetery (see below):
The "Festival de Musique de Menton" existing since 66 years, is one of the major cultural events in South of France and it takes palce on the square in front of St. Michel's Basilica. During two weeks, every August, the square becomes the main stage of the musical festival. The illumination of the church, which you can see all year, is fantastic. The view on the sea is stunning. In case of bad weather the concerts take place in the church interiors. Additionally, St Michel, Menton's own saint, is celebrated on the last Sunday of September every year:
The construction of the Basilica begun in 1640 under the reign of Honoré II, but took several centuries to be completed. The first stone was, even, laid on May 27, 1619. But because of financial difficulties it wasn't completed until year 1653. The façade was then renovated in the 19th Century adding typical decor of the period such as smooth columns with ionic and Corinthian capitals.
The church interior is beautiful in a rustic way. Inside the decoration is impressive with a vaulted painted ceiling. The numerous side chapels are also worth examination. Brochures in a variety of languages explain some about the Basilica's treasures. Absolutely amazing with special religious, serene spirit inside. Note: there is no signage giving days or times of when the church is open. You can be sure that on Sundays' mornings it is open...:
A little further on in the Place de la Conception, La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs (White Penitents Chapel), from the 17th century, is even more extraordinary and offers a more ornate façade : pinnacles, friezes, garlands of flowers. It was built between 1680 and 1687 in the neighborhood of the "Capitol" on land outside the walls of the medieval city and offered by the Prince Louis the 1st and the local family Monléon. It was completely renovated and transformed in year 1987:
With our face to the two churches - we turn right (without stairs) in a steep climb to the Montee du Souvenir. During our climb - turn your head backward to see the tops of our two churches (just visited):
After climbing 300 m. we see, on our right, the entrance to the Cimetière du vieux Château. The Cemetery of the old castle is just above the Basilica Saint Michel and its impressive square. There are spectacular views of Menton, the Roqueburne range of mountains, the Italian seashore and the sea from this cemetery. Opening hours: 7.00 - 20.00 MAY-SEP, 7.00 - 18.00 OCT-APR. Until the 19th century - the deads were buried in the Saint Michel Basilica and its adjacent church (or in a special site west to the Basilica square). from 1807 the land around a neglected castle on top of the hill, overlooking Menton, was acquired for the burial place of the town citizens.
From the cemetery - we take the western path/road of Traverse Montee du Souvenir:
We connect with the Rue de la Conception and descend down through several flights of stairs (passing the La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs on our left):
We continue in the same direction (west) along Rue de la République and on our left we see the Menton Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) (Mairie):
In the end of Rue de la Republique - Hotel L'Orient (or Grand Hotel d'Orient). If you have the chance to enter these premises - you'll see unbelievable sights of a spectacular site and complex of the Belle Epoque:
Head west on Rue de la République toward Rue Max Barel, 200 m. Slight right onto Rue Partouneaux, 280 m. Turn right onto Avenue de Verdun,
150 m. Slight left to stay on Avenue de Verdun, 25 m. Turn left onto Avenue de la Gare, 120 m. Slight right, 70 m. and we end our short visit in Menton in the GARE DE MENTON.
Nice Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) (Colline du Chateau):
Access: take the 213 steps (‘escalier Lesage’) or the FREE elevator (Ascenseur du Chateau) in the most eastern edge of Rue de Ponchettes near Quai des États-Unis (behind the Hotel Suisse). Access on foot also from Place Garibaldi in OId Nice.
If there is a long queue waiting for the elevator - you may wait 10-20 minutes in a quite stuffy, underground hall. Steps up not too hard (10-12 minutes hike along winding path of approx. 210-220 steps. A bit out of breath). Wear proper shoes. Do not opt for hiking on foot in very hot hours. The hiking is preferable due to unbelievable sights (during the morning hours !). You can ride the little tourist train up the hill and back down. You can pick up the train from the Promenade des Anglais. Our suggestion is to go up through the old town (shorter path and less steps) and go down on the beach side.
The Tourist Train: 10 minute stop at the castle. Duration: roughly 45 minutes. Commentary: (Individual commentary) French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese. Capacity: 55 passengers. Prices: 10 € adults, 5 € children 4 to 12 years. Times: Daily. one departure every 30 minutes (several tourist trains). 10.00 to 17.00 in January, February and March. 10.00 to 18.00 in April, May and September. 10.00 to 19.00 in June, July and August. 10.00 to 17.00 in October, November, and December.
The main reason to visit the Castle Hill is for the stunning views. Great views of Nice Port (afternoon hours - when the sun shines from the west), city and beach (Baie des Anges) (morning or midday hours). Sunset is especially terrific for lovely sights of Port Lympia, east and down to the Castle Hill. Don't just look at the view in one direction. We recommend visiting the Castle Hill twice and getting views from BOTH of its sides. Climb up the Castle Hill during the morning hours for getting wonderful views of Nice city and its l-o-n-g beaches (the red rooftops of Nice old town jointed by the glistening turquoise ocean) and sunrise overlooking the port. Looking west you can see beyond the airport towards Cannes and St Tropez. Visit, again, during the late (sunny !) afternoon hours to get admirable sights of the ports in the east and sunset over the city and its beaches.
Westerly viewpoints which have an absolutely superb picture postcard panorama overlooking the Promenade des Anglais, Old Nice and the Baie des Anges, with further in the distance the Cap d’Antibes, the Esterel mountains, the airport and the Southern Alps: this view is best enjoyed in the morning in order to avoid the sun directly facing you in the afternoon:
View from the Castle Hill east over Port Lympia and looking south-east towards the Cape of Nice (separating Nice from Cap Ferrat):
Opening hours: 01 OCT - 31 MAR: 08.30 - 18:00, 01 APR - 30 SEP: 08.30 - 20.00. Cost: Its a free of charge attraction.
Duration: Allow a few hours to see this area.
The history of the park goes all the way back to the beginning of the 19th century, when the city of Nice was facing the challenge to turn the site of the former castle into a pleasant leisure and tourist area. Thus, at present, the Castle Park is not just just a mere archeological site. in 1706, King Louis XIV asked it to be destroyed. The castle had until then defended the city of Nice against many attacks. Indeed, Nice, at the time, was not yet in France. This fortress was then an obstacle for the French attacks against the Savoie County. Fortunately for Nice, this destruction had a positive effect since the city was forced to open and expand outside its ancient walls. Then the tourist resort was born which allowed the city to develop. In 1828, King Charles-Felix of Savoy, at the time King of Sardinia, originally intialized the project of the Castle Hill Park. He wanted to create a walk for the rich tourists on holiday in Nice. Then the Royal Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and many famous botanists (Risso, Bottière, Milo) began to build a park for the city of Nice:
What is on top of the Castle Hill ?
There are also walkways paved with colourful modern day mosaics. These are, actually, references to ancient Greece, notably on the eastern side of the plateau on top of the hill, with a fountain dedicated to the god Pan and mosaics representing scenes from the Odyssey. Remember: the Greeks founded Nice in around 350 BC and named it Nikaia after the Greek goddess of victory:
Cascade Dijon (which is an artificial waterfall) also counts as one of the chief highlight of the park. The waterfall is worth seeing from above and below. The waterfall was built in 1885 in order to decorate the Castle Hill, but also in order to play the role of on-verses basins of the first modern water supply of Nice. Even today, the waterfall is fed by the waters of the Vésubie valley. The Cascade:
Despite different destructions, the castle park retains traces of its monuments of the past. Many ruins have been found and revealed (cathedral, citadel). Archaeological digs are still active today in an attempt to reveal traces of the fortress (from the medieval to the Baroque period). There are Roman relics well exposed at the archeological site. There are some ruins but not really a chateau to speak of:
In the one remaining tower, the 16th century Tour Bellanda (Bellanda Tower), is the Musée Naval. Bellanda Tower was built in 1844 in typical romantic style. It was built in place of the old tower of St. Elmo, which was part of the ancient castle:
In the north-west part of the hill - there is the Jewish cemetery (Cimetière Israélite, Allée François Aragon). As well as visiting the remains and gazing at the views, while on Castle Hill, visit the beautiful monumental cemetery. It has three sections Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. Many of the monuments are very elaborate and beautiful. Worth a look just to fill you in on Nice's recent history. Garibaldi is buried in this cemetery.
Part 1: From Broad Street to Radcliffe Square.
Main Attractions: Blackwell's Bookshop, Sheldonian Theatre, Bodleian Library, The Clarendon Building, Weston Library, The Bodleian Treasures Exhibition, Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Square, The Brasenose College, Radcliffe Camera, The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, All Souls College, High Street.
Part 2: Along High Street - from St. Mary Church to the Botanic Garden.
Start: Carfax Tower. End: Radcliffe Square (part 1), the Botanic Garden (Part 2). Duration: Part 1 - 1/2 - 3/4 day. Part 2 - 1/4 - 1/2 day.
From Carfax Tower, Queen Street we head northeast on Queen St toward Cornmarket St, 25 m. We turn left onto Cornmarket St, 250 m. Turn right onto Broad St, 120 m. After 120 m. walk along Broad (with our face to the east) - we see the Blackwell's Bookshop, 48-51 Broad St. on our left. It is rare that a bookstore becomes a tourist attraction. Blackwell UK, or the Blackwell Group, is a British academic book retailer founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, after whom the chain is named. Founded in Oxford on Broad Street, the firm now has a chain of 45 shops, as well as library supply service, employing around 1000 staff members across all the UK. Both the Oxford and London flagship shops have won Bookseller of the Year at the British Book Awards. It includes as part of its basement the Norrington Room, which gained a place in the Guinness Books of Records with the largest single display of books for sale in the world. The huge Norrington Room - actually extends under neighboring Trinity College Gardens. It contains endless shelves of books - when the lion's share of them are underground. The main store at 48-51 Broad Street is NOT the only store in Oxford. It is the largest, holding 250,000 volumes, but there are also specialized stores for Art, Music, rare books, paperbacks, maps and travel, medicine, children's books, and a University bookstore. The main store in Broad Street also has a large used books section as well (on the top floor). Blackwell's catered exclusively to the academic market, and gradually opened new stores in university towns around the UK.
Exactly opposite the bookstore is the Sheldonian Theatre. Located in Oxford’s medieval city centre, the Sheldonian Theatre is a unique, world-renowned and world-class architectural jewel of Oxford.
It's is surrounded by a stone wall railings with the heads of Roman Emperors circling the theatre courtyard. Christopher Wren commissioned 14 stone heads from William Byrd who was a mason and stonecutter working in nearby Holywell. The heads were made of good quality freestone, and were completed in 1669. Each is a head-and-shoulders sculpture of a male with a beard, placed on a tall square pillar. They have been variously called the Apostles or the Philosophers, but most commonly they are called the Emperors. Each head has a different beard and it has also been suggested they represent a history of beards. In the early 1700s, one of the heads had to be removed to make way for the Clarendon Building (see below). The remaining 13 lasted 200 years until they were replaced in 1868. Unfortunately, the replacements were made of poor quality stone and gradually eroded until they were called ‘the faceless Caesars’ and were taken down in 1970. The third and current set of heads is made of more durable stone and each head weighs one ton. They were commissioned from Oxford sculptor Michael Black. It took two years to complete the commission, and they were erected in October 1972:
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1664 and 1669. It is said to be one of the first bulidings designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is the University’s ceremonial hall. Price: £3.50, Concessions: £2.50. I would recommend attend a musical performance in this theatre instead of paying special fee for just visiting this charming site. Bear in mind that the more convenient and expensive chairs cost £40-£60/person. The fee includes excellent guide with lots of great information. Occasional Guided tours: £8.00 adult, £6.00 concessions. Open: 10.00 - 16.00. Occasionally affected by ceremonial and other events. The Sheldonian does not have its own box office but tickets can be bought for concerts via the Oxford playhouse (Tel: 01865 305305) or from concert promoters.
Have a look around the main hall and do not miss its amazing ceiling. Gaze up at the magnificent ceiling fresco painted by Robert Streater, the court painter of King Charles II. The majestic hall hosts many musical performances (bring cushion - seats are not modern ones with hard boards and too thin cushions) with excellent acoustics, with superb clarity of the sound, for small and larger musical groups. This building is also used by the Oxford University for their graduation ceremonies (able to seat 1500 people). Experience the atmosphere of this historical theatre space with its gilded organ and wooden interior.
Then walk up the shattering stairs (about 100 steps) to the top where there is a small exhibition of the theatre history.
Marian Cook photo: Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:
The last few wooden steps are a bit challenging (more because of the circular nature and uneven floor) and lead to the coupola - where the 360 degree panoramic views of Oxford were worth it and are one of the best of this magnificent town. The views of Oxford from the top of the theatre are worth the entry fee alone.
South-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:
West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:
North-West Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:
East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:
South-East Oxford from the Sheldonian Theatre Rooftop:
Behind (south) to the Shelodonian Theatre stands the Bodleian Library. Founded in 1602 and regarded as a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It is holding the second most number of books in the UK. it receives and holds a copy of every book and periodical ever written and published in the UK. There are many sensational facts about the Bodleian Libraries and many rare books are hosted here.You don't get to see all these, but just smelling and viewing from distance the historic portions is enough to understand how important this magical site is. Open: MON-FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 16.30, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00.
You can visit the libraries only through (45 - 60 min.) guided tours in fixed times. You have to register (and pay) in advance. Children under 11 yrs are not admitted. NO photos are allowed in most parts of the library - especially, in the upper floor with its medieval library. The tour guide gives you earphones to listen to his/her quiet whisper - while visiting the upper floor.
Mini guided-tour: The mini tour allows you to view the most beautiful parts of the Bodleian Library in just 30 minutes. Included: 15th-century Divinity School and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 30 minutes. Price: £6.
Standard guided-tour: This tour shows you the interior of the buildings that form the historic heart of the University. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court and Duke Humfrey's medieval library. Length: 60 minutes. Price: £8.
Extended tour - Upstairs, downstairs. This tour offers the opportunity to visit both the Bodleian Library's wonderful historic rooms and the modern underground reading room. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Radcliffe Camera and Gladstone Link. Length: 90 minutes
Price: £14. Times: Wednesday and Saturday: 9.15 only.
Extended tour - Explore the reading rooms. This tour adds exploration of the Bodleian Library's wonderful reading rooms where scholars have studied for centuries. Included: 15th-century Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, Upper Reading Room and Radcliffe Camera. Length: 90 minutes. Price: £14
Times: Sunday: 11.15, 13.15 only. The general public cannot enter the reading rooms; that right is reserved for members.
Radcliffe Camera Lower Reading Room:
The Bodleian is so much more than a library; it is a piece of history. Oxford's Bodleian Library opened in 1602 with a collection of 2,000 books assembled by Thomas Bodley of Merton College. The new library replaced one that had been donated to the Divinity School by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester (brother of Henry V of England), but had dispersed in the 16th century. It was originally "Bodley's Library" and has been known informally to centuries of Oxford scholars as "the Bod". In 1610, Bodley made an agreement with the Stationers' Company in London to put a copy of every book registered with them in the library. The Bodleian collection grew so fast that the first expansion of the building was required in 1610–1612, and another in 1634–1637. When John Selden died in 1654, he left the Bodleian his large collection of books and manuscripts. In 1911 the United Kingdom Copyright Act continued the Stationers' Company agreement by making the Bodleian one of the five "copyright libraries" in the United Kingdom, where a copy of each book copyrighted in the country must be deposited. The New Bodleian building, was built in the 1930s. Each year, the collection grows by more than 100,000 books and nearly 200,000 periodicals; these volumes expand the shelving requirements by about 2 miles (3.3km) annually. A tunnel under Broad Street connects the Old and New Bodleians (mainly, Weston Building - see below), and contains a pedestrian walkway, a mechanical book conveyor and a pneumatic tube system for book orders. The Oxford Digital Library (ODL) provides online access to the paper collections. The Oxford Digital Library started operationally in July 2001 and has a rich collection of digital archives. In 2004, Oxford made an agreement allowing Google to digitize 1 million books owned by the Bodleian Library. The Bodleian is unique in that it is not a lending library - no books can be borrowed, only read on the premises. The Bodleian takes this restriction seriously; in two famous cases, King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell was refused permission to borrow a book... A strict policy of the libraries was that no fire may be brought into the library buildings. For this reason, the library was completely unheated until 1845, when Victorian engineers installed channels in the floor to carry hot water into the building after being heated in boilers outside. The library also lacked artificial lighting until 1929. Reliance on the sun for light and heat kept the library’s hours of operation quite short—as little as five hours per day during the winter.
The Bodleian Library exterior:
The Old Schools Quadrangle:
The main "Old Bodleian" building contains upper and lower reading rooms, the gift shop, and the Divinity School. As we said before, visitors are not allowed into the reading rooms except gazing from the distance on guided tours only, which usually occur daily, every hour. To be granted access to the Bodleian Library, one must submit a formal application. Visitors are asked to leave all bags, including ladies handbags, in secure lockers for the duration of all Bodleian Library tours.
The guided visit starts with the Divinity School at the 1st floor. The building is physically attached to the Bodleian Library (with Duke Humfrey's Library on the first floor above it in the Bodleian Library). The Divinity School Hall has beautiful Gothic windows. The ceiling consists of very elaborate vaulting. This splendid medieval room is the oldest teaching hall and earliest examination hall of the University. You can pay just £1 and see this hall for 10 minutes. Open: MON-SAT: 09. 00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Purchase entry ticket on the day at the Great Gate ticket office.
Convocation House was built in years 1634–7. The Convocation House is the lower floor of the westward addition to the Bodleian Library and Divinity School. It adjoins the Divinity School, which pre-dates it by just over two hundred years, and the Sheldonian Theatre, to its immediate north:
Chancellor's Court sentencing students. Oxford University is the only university with Court. Oscar Wilde was sentenced here. It was formerly a meeting chamber for the House of Commons during the English Civil War and later in the 1660s and 1680s:
Second Floor: Duke Humfrey's Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian. It is composed of three major portions: the original medieval section (completed 1487, rededicated 1602), the Arts End (1612) to the east, and Selden End (1637) to the west. Until 2015, it functioned primarily as a reading room for maps, music, and pre-1641 rare books; following the opening of the new Weston Library, it is now an additional reading room for all users of the Bodleian, as the Weston Library operates reading room for special collections. It consists of the original medieval section (1487), the Arts End (1612), and the Selden End (1637). It houses collections of maps, music, Western manuscripts, and theology and ancient arts documents. The library is on the second floor and is attached at two corners to the Old Schools Quadrangle. The medieval section is above the Divinity School and Selden End (named after John Selden a benefactor of the library) is above the Convocation House. The books in the oldest part are accommodated in oak bookcases which are at right angles to the walls on either side with integral readers' desks. The ceiling consists of panels painted with the arms of the university:
Duke Humfrey's Library is named after Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, a younger son of Henry IV of England. He was a connoisseur of literature and commissioned translations of classical works from Greek into Latin. When he died in 1447, he donated his collection of 281 manuscripts to the University of Oxford. Oxford built Duke Humfrey's Library as a second story to the Divinity School in order to house his collection in 1450-80. Today, only three of Humfrey's original books remain in the library. In 1550 the King's Commissioners despoiled it of books and in 1556 the furniture was removed by the university. It was refitted and restored from 1598 by Sir Thomas Bodley and in 1610-12 added the east wing (now Arts End). The west wing (now Selden End) followed 20 years later. The medieval library is familiar to Harry Potter fans. You won't disappoint. The beautiful painted ceiling, wonderful wood paneling and ancient books are, all, once-in-life experience. The books and the interior of the library is breathtaking beautiful. You can gaze at the ancient books, which is cool and inspiring - but you are not allowed to touch or wander inside or around. Our guide, David, was very knowledgeable and inviting:
Today, the Bodleian includes several off-site storage areas as well as nine other libraries in Oxford, including the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, and the Radcliffe Science Library. Altogether, the sites now contain 9 million items on 176 km of shelving, and have seats for 2,500 readers. The Bodleian Library's religious interest lies in its impressive collection of biblical and religious manuscripts. Unfortunately, these are generally not accessible to visitors.
The Clarendon Building ,Broad Street, is NORTH to the Sheldonian Library and the Bodleian Library. It is an early 18th-century neoclassical building of the University of Oxford. It was built between 1711 and 1715 and is now a Grade I listed building:
Cross Broad Street from south to north to face the Weston Library (the whole complex is, actually, on the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road). Weston Library is the main home for the Bodleian Libraries' Special Collections. It was renamed the Weston Library in honour of a £25m donation given in March 2008 by the Garfield Weston Foundation. The facade facing Broad Street is with a low podium wall and a row of small ground floor windows. The interiors are entirely modern - except a 15th-century portal from the Ascot Park estate used as an entrance to the readers’ admissions room. FREE. Open: Blackwell Hall - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. Exhibition galleries: MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.00, SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11:00-17:00. Bodleian Café - MON-FRI: 8.30 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Zvi Meitar Bodleian Libraries Shop - MON-FRI: 10.00 - 17.30 , SAT: 10.00 - 17.00, SUN: 11.00 - 17.00. The Weston Library began its life as the New Bodleian Library, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and constructed in the 1930s. In 1925, Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley (then Bodley's Librarian) informed the University that the Library would run out of space in ten years' time. In 1926, the Rockefeller Foundation agreed to provide three-fifths of the cost of a new library. The building was planned to be connected to the Old Bodleian building via an underground conveyor belt and a pneumatic tube system. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was appointed as architect in June 1934, and building work commenced in December 1936. The building was finished by 1940, but, its formal opening was delayed - since it was used for military projects during WW2. During the war it hosted valuable collections from the Old Library and special collections store, the Old Ashmolean, the Sheldonian, Duke Humfrey and the University Archives. The New Library also hosted priceless collections from libraries and institutions around the UK, including the King's Library (British Museum) and the herbarium collection of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. Treasures from fifteen Oxford colleges were also received – from Christ Church pictures to Merton's manuscripts. The building was finally opened by King George VI on 24 October, 1946. Since that time the only major alteration to the building has been the addition of the Indian Institute as a south-facing roof extension in 1966-69 by architect Robert Potter. The New Bodleian remained relatively unchanged:
The entrance collonade:
First, you enter the Blackwell Hall public space on the ground floor. It is lit with natural light from new skylights, or from the building’s original long slit-windows:
There is, also, brand new roof-level reading room with views of the Oxford city's famed spires:
The Shakespeare's Dead Exhibition (the left entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library (22 April 2016 — 18 September 2016) celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The interesting exhibition displays and confronts the theme of death in Shakespeare's works. It shows how Shakespeare used the anticipation of death, the moment of death and mourning the dead in context to bring characters to life. The word "Death" repeatedly reflects times when death had a deeply religious context. The exhibition will feature tragic characters from Shakespeare's works including Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and, even, Falstaff. Death is eternal in Shakespeare: from Desdemona’s deathbed to a tomb of books. The main historical event is the Bubonic Plague 1591-1603. Shakespeare's Dead also looks at last words spoken, funerals and mourning as well as life after death, including ghosts and characters who come back to life. These themes are explored using key items from the Bodleian's famous literary collections that include Shakespeare's First Folio and the first Shakespeare playbook (Romeo & Juliet), a number of early editions and an extensive collection of plays and poetry by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
A page from A dialogue against the fever pestilence, a book by English physician and cleric William Bullein (published 1564):
First copy of Venus & Adonis of Shakespeare, 1593:
Knight fights the Death - Dance of Death Panel:
Merchant of Venice, 1600:
The title page of a 1612 edition of Richard III with annotations by Edmond Malone (circa 1741-1812):
First Folio - the collection of 36 plays written by Shakespeare in 1623, including Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra – emerged in the library of Mount Stuart, a 19th century Scottish mansion:
We turn to the Bodleian Treasures Exhibition (the right entrance from the main Blackwell Hall) in the Weston Library. It displays RARE DOCUMENTS in pairs: famous document vs. less familiar one:
The Magna Carta, 1217. The Charter’s clauses on freedom and the rule of law are enshrined in English law and the American Constitution. This is the original of the 1217 issue of the Great Charter, sent by King John and his son, Henry III to Oxford. Henry III, who was ten years old and too young to put his own seal to it, reissued the 1215 charter of his father King John:
Biblica Latina, 1455. The ‘Gutenberg Bible’ reflects the great advances made in printing technology in the 15th century. It is the first substantial book to be printed from individual pieces of metal type. The book was the work of Johann Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), a goldsmith from Mainz. Printing probably began in 1454, and was completed by March 1455. Fewer than fifty copies survive today, and the Bodleian’s copy is one of only seven complete examples in the UK:
Peter Apian - Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540:
Codex Mendoza, c. 1541, an Aztec artist. This manuscript was commissioned by Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of Mexico 1535-1550, for presentation to the Emperor Charles V of Spain.
a copy of a lost chronicle of the Aztec lords of Tenochtitlan; secondly,
a copy of the ancient Tribute Roll, listing 400 towns paying annual dues to the last (murdered by the Spaniards) Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II,
an account of Aztec daily life.
The drawings were annotated in Spanish by a Nahuatl-speaking Spanish priest who questioned native speakers as to their meaning. The photo below is a depiction of an Aztec wedding:
London Red Poppey, 1777, William Curtis. One of the finest illustrations of British plants ever published:
Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Sarus Crane, 1780 (see our blog "The Ashmolean Museum - Part 2"):
Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) - Through the Looking Glass, London 1872:
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, 1912. it was the author’s wish that all his documents and manuscripts be burned. His friend, Max Brod saved this document. Thanks to Kafka’s friend Max Brod that the existing manuscripts survive at all. Kafka’s Metamorphosis opens with a man waking to find himself turned into a monstrous insect. This is the original manuscript of one of the few works that appeared in print in Kafka’s lifetime (first edition, 1915). The majority of the author’s manuscripts are now in the Bodleian Library:
Paint of Kenneth Graham - author of The Wind in the Willows, 1912:
Two concepts of liberty: Isaiah Berlin introduced his famous distinction between negative and positive liberty at this inaugural Oxford lecture as Professor of Social and Political Theory. After fleeing from Riga and witnessing the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg, he and his Jewish family had sought refuge in England in 1921. He studied and taught at several Oxford colleges:
Tolkien - Bilbo comes to the huts of the raft-elves, 1937. Water-color paint he made for the American edition of the "Hobbit". Tolkien imagined his fantasy world in words and pictures, producing numerous illustrations of the landscapes and creatures:
Tolkien fans, scholars and members of the public will have a unique opportunity to view a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth as the Bodleian Libraries puts this rare piece of Tolkien Narnia on display on 23 June 2016:
Marian Cook - Aung San Suu Kyi, 2011:
We leave the Weston Library and walk (left) eastward along Broad street. Turn RIGHT (south) to Catte Street. In the junction of Catte St and New College Lane - stands the Bridge of Sighs or Hertford Bridge. It is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane and Its distinctive design makes it a city landmark. Just iconic gem or photo-stop of Oxford, nothing special architecturally. The bridge is often referred to as the Bridge of Sighs because of its supposed similarity to the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice. However, Hertford Bridge is more similar to the Rialto Bridge in Venice. The bridge links together north and south parts of Hertford College. It was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson. It was completed in 1914, despite its construction being opposed by New College. The building on the southern side of the bridge houses the College's administrative offices, whereas the northern building is mostly student accommodation. The bridge is always open to members of the Hertford College:
Unfortunately the Hertford college is CLOSED to public visitors. We continue southward along Catte Street and arrive to the striking Radcliffe Square. The stunning square is surrounded, on the four sides, by the facades of the famous: Bodleian Library, Brasenose College, All Souls College and the University (St. Mary) Church. The square is pedestrians- only and laid with cobble stones. Radcliffe Square is widely regarded as the most beautiful in Oxford. It is a quiet oasis in the centre of the city, completely surrounded by ancient University and college buildings, yet just a few paces away from the bustling High Street. The square is named after John Radcliffe, a student of University College and doctor to the King, who in 1714 bequeathed £40,000 to build a science library known today as the Radcliffe Camera:
The Brasenose College is in the western side of Radcliffe Square. Open (Guided tours ONLY): MON - FRI: 10.00 - 11.30, 14.00 - 16.30 (17.00 - during the summer), SAT - SUN: 09.30 - 10.30 (term time), 10.00 - 11.30 (non-term time). Entrance fee: £2.00. Brasenose College was founded in 1509 by Sir Richard Sutton, a Lawyer and William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln. Both were from the north west and the College has retained strong links with Cheshire and Lancashire throughout its history. A Royal Charter, dated 1512, established the College to be called 'The King's Hall and College of Brasenose'. The College library and current chapel added in the mid-seventeenth century. The College's New Quadrangle was completed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with additional residence areas completed in the 1960s and 1970s. Brasenose is famed as one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, Brasenose College Boat Club. The College's unusual name refers to a twelfth century 'brazen' (brass or bronze) door knocker in the shape of a nose. Noses have been used as symbols for Brasenose College throughout its history. Brasenose College enjoys the best location of any Oxford University College with the entrance to the Old Quad on Radcliffe Square next to the Bodleian Library:
The Old Quadrangle:
The sundial on the north side of Old Quad is dated to 1719:
The New Quadrangle dated from late 19th century:
The College's hall is situated on the south side of the Old Quadrangle, which was constructed in the 16th century:
The Radcliffe Camera building in the centre of the square - is AMAZING. It stands between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east. Camera, here, meaning "room" in Latin. Tourists are not allowed to go inside - except visitors who join the most expensive tour of the Bodleian Library (14 GBP). Then, you can visit the top terrace and a few reading rooms and/or the library there. Just walk around this marvelous structure and admire its exteriors from its various sides. The round structure is surrounded by a fence dotted with paper notes with popular sayings. The building hosts one of the Oxford University libraries and is architecturally very impressive. I found the Radcliffe square and Camera - to be one of the most beautiful sights in the UK. It was built in 1739 to 1749 and designed by James Gibbs (who also designed St. Martin's in the Field Church at Trafalgar Square in London). The building is open to students only. The Radcliffe Camera has an underground tunnel which leads to the Old and New Bodleian Libraries. This allows students to take books into the Radcliffe without technically leaving the building. Originally the library in the Radcliffe Camera held both scientific and general books, but those collections were gradually moved to other University libraries, so that today the Camera functions as the main reading room of the Bodleian Library. The finished building holds some 600,000 books in underground rooms beneath Radcliffe Square. This spectacular piece of architecture is referred, by locals, as "Rad Cam":
Next, we go up to St. Mary's Church to have the best view, from its entrance gates, over the magnificent Radcliffe Square and Radcliffe Camera building. Entrances are on High Street and Radcliffe Square.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is in the southern end of the square and is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew. Its front facade is facing High Street. Radcliffe Square lies to the north and to the east is Catte Street, It is surrounded by university and college buildings.
St. Mary Church from High Street:
The Tower: St Mary's has one of the most beautiful spires in England and an eccentric Baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone. The tower commands some of the finest views of Oxford's famous skyline - especially Radcliffe Square, the Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose College and All Souls College. The 13th century (around 1270) tower is open to the public for a fee. It is worth the climb of 124 steps (the stairs are a bit narrow but well worth the effort) to make it to the top to enjoy fine uninterrupted views in all directions across Oxford and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see all of Oxfordshire. The Church Guide Book indicates the major buildings to be seen. Note: a bit of a tight squeeze towards the roof-top and not too many passing/standing places on the round terrace. When you're at the top the path is narrow around the tower so there will be lots of squeezing around other people if there are several people up there at the same time. Price: adults £4, children (under 16) £3, Family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children), £11. Open daily : 9.00 - 17.00 (6.00 - 18.00 in July & August). Sundays the Tower opens at 12.15 OCT - MAY, 11.15 JUN - SEP. Access to the church is free. You will probably have to queue up at busy times. The cafe in the east side of the entrance court is very good. Delicious food among the vaults. You can sit in the church garden on a sunny day.
All Souls College from St. Mary Church roof-top:
Carved stone figure on the tower:
While altered by the Victorians, the interior of St. Mary’s church retains many of its original elements. The interior space has six-bay arcades with shafted piers.
There are remnants of 15th century stained glass in the tracery lights of the east window, and 17th century shields in the de Brome Chapel. The east window and second from east in the south aisle were designed by Augustus Pugin. The west window in the nave is from 1891 and was designed by C.E. Kempe, the memorial window to John Keble is by Clayton and Bell in 1866:
The church has a classical, amazing pipe organ built by the Swiss firm of Metzler Orgelbau in 1986, one of only two by this esteemed maker in Great Britain.
In the eastern side of Radcliffe Sqaure - we see the extensive premises of All Souls College. The entrance to this college is ,however, from the north side of High Street. With our face to the Sty. Mary Church and our back to the Radcliffe Camera - the street BEHIND the St. Mary Church (south to the church) is the High Street. We walk southward and turn LEFT (east). Immewdiately, on our left is the entrance to the All Souls College. The college is located on the north side of the High Street adjoining Radcliffe Square to the west. More to the east is The Queen's College with Hertford College to the North. All Souls is one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford. The College was founded by King Henry VI of England in 1438. Today the College is primarily a graduate research institution and has no undergraduate students.
All Souls College Walls and Spires from Radcliffe Camera:
All Souls College Entrance in High Street:
Much of the college facade dates from the 1440s and, unlike at other older colleges, the smaller Front Quad is largely unchanged in five centuries. All Souls College Inner Court:
All Souls College from the tower of St Mary's Church:
Christopher Codrington sculpture inside the famous Codrington Library of All Souls College:
All Souls College chapel:
With our back to the Radcliffe Camera and our face to the St. Mary Church we continue straight on, to the south to the High Street. Here you can find various cafe's and restaurants - mainly, for light meals. Better options are restaurants along St. Clement Street - further east along the High Street. I recommend eating at the Angel & Greyhound, 30 Saint Clement's Street 800 m. east to the St. Mary Church or at Nando's,
80 Cowley Road - 1 km. east to the St. Mary. Both roads are direct continuation of (diverge from ) High Street to the east. Part 2 of this blog continues exactly where we stop here: the spot where we face the St. Mary Church in High Street.
North Oxford: Oxford Canal, Jericho, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:
Main Attractions: Worcester College, The Blavatnik School of Government, Radcliffe Observatory building (now, Green Templeton College), The Mathematical Institute, Somerville College, The Radcliffe Humanities Building, The Jericho Health Centre, Freud Cafe', Jericho Tavern, Rutherway, Oxford Canal (the section between Walton Well Rd. and Aristotle Ln.), The Anchor pub.
Duration: 2-3 hours. Distance: 4 km. Weather: any weather.
Start: Carfax Tower. End: Jericho.
From Carfax Tower, Queen Street - we head west on Queen St toward New Inn Hall St, 120 m. We turn right onto New Inn Hall St., 250 m. Turn right onto George St, 30 m. Turn left onto Gloucester St., 70 m. Slight left onto Gloucester Green, 150 m. Turn right onto Worcester St. walk 45 m. and Worcester College will be on your left. Worcester College is one of the most charming of Oxford colleges, with a blend of ancient and modern: from medieval cottages to modern students' accommodation completed in the last decade. Worcester College premises include award-winning gardens, wooded grounds, a lake and sports fields. Worcester College is, actually, in the centre of Oxford on the junction of Worcester Street, Walton Street and Beaumont. It is just across the road from the main bus station, and is a 15 minute walk from the railway station and 5-7 minute walk from the main shopping areas of Oxford Centre. Open: every day from 14.00 - 17.00 (except some public holidays and during the College's Christmas closure period). Free of charge. All visitors are asked to report to the Porters' Lodge, on the right just inside the main entrance. Occasionally the College may be closed for private functions. The college was founded in 1714 (young - compared to other Oxford colleges) by the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, with the college gaining its name from the county of Worcestershire. Its predecessor, Gloucester College, had been an institution of learning, college for Benedictine monks, founded in 1283 that had been dissolved (dissolution of the British monasteries) in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The buildings served as palace and then entered 150 years of decline. An endowment came to their rescue in 1714. Sir Thomas Cookes, a Worcestershire baronet, left the money for the founding of a college.
Looking down into the main quadrangle from the entrance through the main building, to the right is an imposing eighteenth century building in the neo-classical style:
To the left a row of medieval buildings known as "the cottages", which are among the oldest residential buildings in Oxford. These cottages are the most substantial surviving part of the former Gloucester College:
Presently, Worcester College is near the centre of Oxford. But, it was on the edge of the city in the eighteenth century. This has proved a benefit in the long run, since it has allowed the college to retain very extensive gardens and sport/playing fields (including a lake). The gardens have won numerous awards, including the Oxford in Bloom college award every time they have been entered for the competition. Worcester College has more applicants per place than any other Oxford college !
A walking path out the back takes you along a waterway and there is a lake. The extensive gardens are open to the public - all free:
The 18th century main building. Above the arcade is the Old Library; behind the arcade are the main entrance to the College (centre) and the entrances to the Chapel (left) and the Hall (right):
The Worcester College chapel holds regular services during term, many of which are sung by the home chapel choirs. Do not miss the dome and the mosaic floor of this fabulous chapel. Try to attended a stirring Evensong program there one late afternoon on weekdays:
We leave the college and head north, to the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. Exit the college on Worcester St toward Beaumont St. Continue onto Walton St and walk northward for 500 m. The Blavatnik School of Government and the (former) Radcliffe Observatory are on your right.
The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) is in central north Oxford and lies between the Woodstock Road and Walton Street, with Somerville College to the south and Green Templeton College (formerly, the Radcliffe Observatory) to the north.There is an ambitious long-run plan of Oxford University to regenerate and re-plan the whole site. The ROQ project and the new university area is named after the grade I listed Radcliffe Observatory to the north east of the site, now the centrepiece of Green Templeton College, which is intended to form the visual centrepiece of the project (see below). Five buildings comprise the new quarter: 1. The (former) Radcliffe Observatory and (now) the Templeton College, 2. The Somerville College, 3. The Oxford University Humanities Building, 4. The Oxford University Mathematical Institute and 5. Jericho Health Centre.
The Blavatnik School of Government in the south west corner of North Oxford, is standing opposite the slightly alarmingly Soviet-alike of the 1830 complex of Oxford University Press. It was opened in November 2015. Although the Blavatnik School of Government building is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) on Woodstock Road, however its main entrance is on Walton Street. The building has been designed by internationally renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. These architects were responsible for the conversion of the Bankside power plant to Tate Modern in London (year 2000). The Blavatnik School of Government is part of Oxford University’ - an academic institute of public policy and government around the world. The building is taller than Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford, thus it had sparked disputes and caused opposition to the scheme by local residents in the Jericho district and all around Oxford. But, near its completion, in 2015, the building was described as "the latest striking building nearing completion in Oxford". In June 2016, the building received a national Award of the British Association of Architecture (RIBA). In July 2016, the building was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture.
The interior recalls the spiral staircase of New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The interior, grandiose space bright, airy with a lot of glass all around. With vast sheets of glass plates - you feel being into the street, with no frame between you and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter:
Opposite the Blavatnik School of Government (to the north-east) is the Radcliffe Observatory building - recently acquired by Green Templeton College. In 1772 building began on the Radcliffe Observatory, which was the astronomical observatory of the University of Oxford from 1773 to 1934, and is now in the grounds of Green Templeton College. Because of the viewing conditions, weather, urban development and light pollution at Oxford, the observatory moved to South Africa in 1939. It seems that this building is an ever intriguing source of inspiration to artists and continues to provide a truly unique host for the development of both academic and artistic projects in the Jericho and ROQ quarters. Beneath the Tower itself are rooms at each of three levels: the ground floor is now the College dining room, the first floor, originally the library, is now used as the Common Room, and on the top floor is the magnificent octagonal observing room. On the first floor there are also the Fellows' Room and the William Gibson Room, a small private dining room for up to 14 people.
Statue of Atlas on top of the observatory:
Nowadays, Green Templeton is formally Oxford’s newest College, founded in 2008. This college (graduates-only) is, actually, a merger of Green College (specializing in medicine, health and the social sciences) and Templeton College (in business and management):
The Andrew Wiles Mathematical Institute building was formally opened on 3rd October 2013 and is located, immediately, south to the Green Templeton College. A striking building. Architectural masterpiece. One of the leading mathematics departments in the world:
Several steps further south is the Somerville College, Woodstock Road. It was created, in year 1879, for women when universities refused them entry (the college has admitted men since 1994,), and for people of diverse beliefs when the establishment religion was widely demanded - two policies previously unknown in Oxford colleges. Today, around 50% of students are male. The college was named after the eminent scientist and mathematician Mary Somerville (1780–1872). Presently, Somerville is home to around 400 undergraduates and 100 graduate students. The college and its main entrance, the Porters' Lodge, are located on Woodstock Road. The front of the college runs between St Aloysius Church and the Faculty of Philosophy. Somerville has buildings of various architectural styles, many of which bear the names of former principals of the college. The first buildings, in the ROQ regeneration project, to be completed were new student accommodation blocks for Somerville College which opened in September 2011. Past PM, Margaret Thatcher was a famous alumni member of this college:
Mary Somerville, 1780 – 1872, after whom the College is named:
The College Library:
You continue walking further south, along Woodstock Road and on your right is the Radcliffe Humanities Building. The Radcliffe Humanities Building was formerly the Radcliffe Infirmary, which was Oxford's first hospital and was open from 1770 to 2007. The refurbished building opened in 2012 and is part of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) redevelopment, a major new inititiatve for the humanities. it is occupied by the University’s Humanities divisional office, the Faculty of Philosophy and both the Philosophy and Theology libraries:
From the Humanities Office - head north on St Giles toward Woodstock Road, 75 m. Turn left onto Little Clarendon St, 220 m. Turn right onto Walton St. for 300 m. and the Jericho Health Centre is on your right. The Jericho Health Centre relocated to Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on Walton Street in July 2012. This building provides the local community with modern, flexible space for three GP surgeries and their associated health care facilities. The offices above the Health Centre are used by Oxford University Press and the University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The building is owned by Oxford University and the ground floor is leased to the National Hospitals Service (NHS).
Opposite, to the north of the health centre is the Freud café (opposite the junction of Great Clarendon Street and Walton Street, north to the Blavatnik School of Government). It is housed in the former St Paul's Church, a majestic building designed in 1836 by Henry Jones Underwood. The church construction was triggered by an outbreak of cholera in the area in 1831. The building has an imposing portico with Ionic columns. The architect Edward George Bruton added the apse in 1853 and Frederick Charles Eden remodeled the interior in 1908. In the 20th century, the building became a redundant church and was closed in the late 1960s. The building was bought by the Oxford Area Arts Council and used as a theatre and arts centre venue for more than 20 years. A café/bar was opened in 1988 by David Freud, who has an interest in buildings and their interaction with people. From time to time there are performances of live music such as jazz or blues. David Freud was one of the bitter opponents to the new building for the Blavatnik School of Government of Oxford University on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in 2015. The interior setting is very unusual, strange and quirky with the huge pillars, high ceiling and the holy drawings of the stained-glass windows. Its main pro is the great expanse of the old, former church. A bit dark inside. Another plus might be the bohemian, respectful clientele. A different experience !
A bit further north is another pub the Jericho Tavern, 56 Walton Street. Good and delicious food. Pleasant setting and seating. Good atmosphere and service. Spacious garden and patio. Above all - budget prices. Tasty chicken. Fresh Yorkshire Pudding on Sundays. Opening hours: 11.00 - 23.00 SUN - THU, 11.00 - 12.00 FRI - SAT. Recommended !
From The Jericho Tavern we head northwest on Walton St toward Cranham St, 220 m. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Walton Well Rd, 230 m. Slight right onto Rutherway, 150 m. The road slights northwest. In its beginning, on your LEFT (south) - raise your head and you'll see WONDERFUL porticoes and friezes on top of one of the long block houses. It is almost on the banks of Oxford Canal (RutherWay).
Noah and the Pigeon from the Old Testaments:
Jacob's Dream from the Old Testaments:
From Rutherway we find the stairs leading down to the Oxford Canal. In this route - we only SAMPLE the canal and walk along a small section of it from south to north: from Walton Well Rd to Aristotle Lane - short (15 minutes walk), beautiful, quaint and inspiring. We devote a special blog to the Oxford Canal. We stress the point that you can walk ONLY along the western bank of the canal - in this section. it is a beautiful part of oxford away from all the historical building and worth either a boat ride or a walk by the river. Very relaxing. On your left (west) is the Aristotle Recreation Ground and on your right: houses, gardens, mooring boats, wild flowers, water meadows and wildlife. Breath, look, listen, smell and admire the nature in its beauty. Walking along the western towpath - be careful of cyclists. You can carry your trolly luggage while walking along this section. It is whole asphalted and very convenient for canal-side walking. Very pleasant in the right weather !
You can finish the canal-side walk in Aristotle Lane (there are stairs leading to this pretty lane). After climbing the stairs - turn RIGHT (east) to Aristotle Lane and enter The Anchor pub in the junction with Hayfield Road. Excellently prepared, presented and served food. Very reasonable prices although the menu is quite limited. Two dining halls. The first is a standard bar and the other one is more elegant and demanding to impress. They have a seating outside for fine days. Staff is polite, efficient and friendly. Might be very busy (even noisy) in the weekends. Open: MON - FRI: 9.00 - 23.00, SAT - SUN: 10.00 - 23.00:
From here - it is a 20-25 min. walk back to the city centre, or - take bus no. 6 back from Woodstock Road to the centre. Another option: continue walking east along Aristotle Lane and catch bus S3/S2 to George Street/Carfax Tower in the city centre.
Main Attractions: The Promenade, Imperial Gardens, Montpellier Gardens, Montpellier Walk, Suffolk Parade, Montpellier, High Street, Bath Road, Sanford Park, Pittville Pump Rooms.
Start & End: Cheltenham Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 12 km. Weather: Any weather.
Introduction: Cheltenham isn’t the most obvious UK city break destination - but, I do, heartily, recommend you to target this splendid town for one of your weekends. Full with white-washed mansions and houses, with its gorgeous Georgian architecture and great places to eat, drink and shop. Cheltenham is, particularly, a big festival city – with annual jazz (May), science (June), music (July) and literature (October) festivals.
From Royal Well Bus Station, Royal Well Road head southwest toward Royal Well Pl, 80 m. Turn right onto Royal Well Pl, 5 m. Turn left onto and continue to follow St George's, 80 m. Continue onto the Promenade for further 160 m.
Carry on down the Promenade, Cheltenham’s main shopping street lined with elegant Georgian buildings. Cheltenham's famous Promenade dates back to 1818 when the avenue of elms and horse chestnut trees were first planted. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can find the usual high-end, high-street shops on the Promenade. the Promenade offers a pleasant place for a stroll and ranks amongst England's most beautiful thoroughfares:
This impressive building of the Municipal Offices is on the western side of the Promenade in Cheltenham was built in the 1820s. In total it is sixty-three bays long:
On your left Cavendish House department store on the Promenade:
The Long Gardens are home to Cheltenham's war memorial: another statue (opposite the Cheltenham Borough Council) is the The Boer war memorial:
The nearby statue of 1906 commemorates Edward Wilson, born in Cheltenham and lost on Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-12:
The Promenade is very much central to life in Cheltenham and this famous local landmark lies in the heart of the town centre, stretching from (north to south) Pittville Park past the Imperial Gardens and towards Montpellier Gardens. During the summer months, the Promenade is at its best, when it is adorned with colourful hanging baskets, overflowing with seasonal floral displays.
Further south along the promenade, on your LEFT is the Town Hall. Cheltenham Town Hall is unusual in that it operates solely as a venue for public events, and NOT as office space - be found in the town's neighbouring Municipal Offices:
The Imperial Gardens, which can be found at the front of the Town Hall (still on your left) (east), were originally planted out for the exclusive use of the customers of the Sherborne Spa. The spa was constructed in 1818 on the site now occupied by the Queens Hotel (see below). Along the years, the gardens have undergone many changes, with the formal style you now see being laid out just after the second world war. The Promenade's colourful Imperial Gardens are laid out with an ever-changing display of ornamental bedding plants. Each year, approximately 25,000 bedding plants are used to produce the magnificent floral displays enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. During the summer months, the Imperial Gardens becomes host to many outdoor events and festivals including the Literature, Jazz, Science and Music Festivals:
Neptune fountain, at the end of the gardens was designed by Joseph Hall and was sculpted in 1893 by local firm RL Boulton and Sons. It is considered to have been styled on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It was restored in 1989. The building behind the fountain used to be the ABC cinema:
The Queens Hotel behind the Imperial Gardens:
Continue further south-west along the Promenade and you see the Montpellier Gardens on your left. This parks is used as festival venues, with marquees, shops, cafés and lots of free events. But even if you’re not there for a festival, you can take a walk around the gardens. A full size bronze statue of Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is the centrepiece of the Imperial Gardens with a fountain and surrounded by octagonal plinth depicting the planets. The renowned composer of works such as 'The Planets' was a native of Cheltenham and the Holst Birthplace Museum can be visited in Clarence Road. This commemorative statue, by Anthony Stones, was unveiled in 2008 and shows Holst with conducting baton in hand:
Every summer you can see a free exhibition of local artists: "Art in the Park". On Montpellier Walk, on our right, you will find a line of Caryatids (modelled on The Acropolis in Athens) at the side of every shop alongside a feast of cafes with alfresco dining, a deliciously continental feel to the area. The earliest two were made from terracotta by the London sculptor Rossi and date back to 1840, while the remainder were created by a local man from Tivoli Street, with an additional pair added in the 1970s. Developed in the 1830s and 1840s, the Montpellier area of Cheltenham takes its name from the fashionable French town, which was renown at the time for being a pleasant place to live:
The Montpellier quarter is set at the end of the Promenade just after Montpellier Gardens. At the southern end of the Montpellier Gardens we turn LEFT (south-east) to Montpellier Terrace. Later, we turn RIGHT (south) to Suffolk Parade. Shopping here is in individually styled shops and boutiques with everything from clothes to homeware, and a dance shop sit side by side in Regency buildings with restaurants and a wine bar to give this quarter of the town a real village feeling to the Cheltenham shopping experience:
The Suffolks have become popular for antiques, homewares or individual specialist shops. Home to a restaurant in a church and one which used to be an art deco cinema (see immediately below), this quarter has an artistic appeal all of its own. Along the Suffolk Parade - do not miss (on your right) the Daffodil for dinner. The restaurant serves modern British food in a converted art deco cinema, full of gorgeous original 1920s design features. Head upstairs for a drink in the Circle Bar first, with a great cocktail list and half-price Champagne and sparkling wine on Friday nights from 18.00 to 20.00. Then walk down the sweeping stairs to the restaurant – where the cinema screen used to be you can now watch the chefs in action in the open kitchen.
In the intersection of Suffolk Parade and Upper Bath Street (the 7th to the left) we'll see interesting church:
Suffolk Parade continues as Great Norwood Street and ends at the the Norwood Triangle. Here we take the Gratton Road leg and we turn RIGHT (west) to the Grafton Road. In the corner of Gratton and Grafton roads stands the St Philip and St James, Leckhampton church (popularly called: Pip & Jim). The church is in the Victorian Gothic style, with a fine carved stone reredos in the chancel:
We continue westward along The Park:
We turn RIGHT (north) and walk 320 m. along the Tivoli Road until we turn left to the Andover Road. On our left is the Tivoli Stores Area. We cross the road (cautiously) and turn right to the Lansdown Parade. On our left is the Lansdown Pub:
The Lansdown Parade ends in a roundabout. We shall continue northward along Montpellier Street - BUT, before we take the Parabola Road leg from the rounabout. On the third turn to the right stands the majestic white building of Malmaison Cheltenham hotel, in the heart of Montpellier – Cheltenham’s most stylish district, with plenty of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Set in a white Regency villa, the hotel is classically grand from the outside but inside it’s modern and stylish, with lots of contemporary furniture and artworks, and Hi-Tech and smart technology features inside. There’s lots of space to relax, with a cosy lounge-come-library and a Victorian conservatory as well as a smart bar, restaurant and spa. After the sterling slump - you can book a double room starting from 105 GBP a night !:
Retrace your steps and walk back in Parabola Road - to start walking northward along the Montpellier Street leg. On our left is the Courtyard Specialty Shopping centre. We continue walking north-east along Montpellier Street, crossing the Fauconberg Road. On our left is the Cheltenham Ladies College: an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18. The college gets high UK rankings during the last 10 years:
Continuing walking along Montpellier Street brings us onto Royal Well Rd. Continue to follow Royal Well for 320 m. and turn right onto Clarence St. Turn left to the High Street. In the intersection of Royal Well and Clarence Street - you hit the Well Walk Tea Room for afternoon tea. It’s one of Cheltenham’s oldest shops and inside is packed with quirky antiques and crafts. Don’t miss a slice of one of their cakes:
With our back to The Promenade (to the north-east) we turn RIGHT (south-east) to the High Street, and, immediately, RIGHT (south-west) to Regent Street to see, on our left the Everyman Theatre. The Everyman Gloucestershire's theatre - is running shows from year 1891. The interior auditorium is an architectural masterpiece designed by Frank Matcham (it was originally called "The Opera House") and has inspired generations of performers. You visit the Everyman to see ballet, opera, drama, dance, comedy, music events or traditional pantomime. There are two stages in the building - the 694 seat main stage and the 60 seat Studio Theatre, originally named The Richardson after Ralph Richardson.
Further, along Regent Street, still, on your left is the Kibou Sushi, 18 Regent St. A bit higher prices (compared with regular Sushis) - BUT, wonderful food in a small, beautiful restaurant. A few metres further south-west we see the Regent Arcade shopping centre. Clean, bright with lots of shops to pop into. Good WC facilities:
Again, retrace your steps and RETURN the whole Regent Street BACK and turn right onto High Street. Cheltenham’s High Street has been voted the most popular High Street in England. High Street is mainly pedestrianized. On our left (north) is the Beechwood Shopping Centre. Here and there you see buildings, still displaying evidence of the town's regency architecture.
On the 4th road to the right, we turn RIGHT (south-west) to Bath Road. Forming a quarter of the town, for the local community and visitor alike, shopping in Bath Road has something for everyone from ironmongery, shoes and health food to clothes and gift shops. Added to which are banks, a supermarket, pubs, cafes and restaurants for that all-round local shopping experience if you want to try a different experience to town centre shopping in Cheltenham. I recommend having lunch or dinner at the Wetherspoon / Moon under Water, 16-28 Bath Road. 8 oz. steak, rice plate, basket potatoe, peas, mushrooms and lemonade - £11. Cheap meal. Modern decor and very clean. Polite and efficient service.
On your LEFT (east) is the Sanford Park. The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to Sandford lido, is popular for picnics and games, and also has a large play area and toilets. The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections: The main part houses a fountain with seating, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months. The Annecy Gardens, named after one of Cheltenham's twin towns, are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens (see photo below), complete with sunken pool and fountains, lie to the west. A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. The Cheltenham Lido is an heated pool (BIG one for adults and a small one for children), which means you can be confident of being able to enter the pool in any summer weather:
Then burn your meal off with a walk to the Pittville Park and Pittville Pump Room, about 30-40 minutes north of the town centre and 1 mile (1.6 km.) walk from Sanford Parks. Built in the 1820s, this was Cheltenham’s largest spa building, surrounded by manicured lawns and ornamental lakes. You can still taste the medicinal spa waters from the pump (open 10.00 – 16.00, unless closed for an event. From the Sandford Park Alehouse, 20 High St. - head BACK northwest on High St., 160 m. Slight right onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Pittville St, 110 m. Continue onto Portland St., 320 m. Continue onto Evesham Rd. , 650 m. and the entrance to Pittville Park will be on the left. Lovely place to go for a walk or a run or just to sit in the sunshine. Stunning park, nicely maintained with a huge brand new playground. Generous investment in new park equipment. A brilliant palce in a sunny day !!!
The two lakes straddle the main road, however, the lake with the new playground adjacent also has large menageries with various birds and small animals and two cafes, one by the playground and one nearer Cheltenham Town Centre. The lakes are exquisite and include an island nature refuge. There are many flower beds which look superb in early Spring and Summer:
The park is beautifully landscaped and on the rise is Pittville Pump Rooms, 800 m. walk along a special path. It is standing at the northern end of Pittville Park, and here you can take the spa waters that made Cheltenham's popularity more than a century ago. The Pump Room was built by the architect John Forbes between 1825 and 1830. The Pittville Pump Room was the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham. The Pump Rooms building is overlooking the lawns and lakes of Pittville Park. The striking Main Hall with its ornate domed ceiling and crystal chandeliers, accommodating up to 400 seated guests. It is used for concerts, exhibitions, parties and dinners. The original marble spa water pump stands proudly in the apse, which can accommodate smaller meetings. Upstairs the bright and sunny Oval and West Rooms. The benefits of Cheltenham's mineral waters had been recognized since 1716, but not until after the arrival of Henry Skillicorne in 1738 did serious exploitation of their potential as an attraction begin. After the visit to Cheltenham in 1788 of King George III, the town became increasingly fashionable, and wells were opened up at several points round the town. Pittville, the vision of Joseph Pitt, was a planned 'new town' development of the 1820s, in which the centre-piece was (and remains) a pump-room where the waters of one of the more northerly wells could be taken. When not in use, you can wander into the Main Auditorium to see its fine interior and sample the fountain’s historically medicinal Spa Waters for free. Open: WED - SUN: 10.00 - 16.00:
From Pittville Park we head south on Evesham Rd, 75 m. Turn right, 45 m.
Turn left, 480 m. Sharp left onto Hudson St, 3110 m. Continue onto Hanover St. Head south on Hanover St toward Dunalley Parade. Turn left onto Dunalley Parade, 320 m. Turn right onto Marle Hill Parade, 70 m. Continue onto Dunalley St, 160 m. Continue onto Henrietta St., 160 m.
Turn left onto High St, 320 m. Turn right onto Clarence St., turn left onto Imperial Circus and turn right onto The Promenade.