The Bronze Horseman and Nevsky Prospect, Pushkin-, Dostoevsky- and Joseph-Brodsky-Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Bronze Horseman on Dekabrist Square, near the river Neva
Nevsky Prospect, the main boulevard, St. Petersburg
Pushkin-Museum, Naberezhnaya Reki Moiki 12, St. Petersburg
Dostoevsky Memorial Museum, Kuznechny Pereulok 5/2, St. Petersburg
Future Joseph Brodsky Museum, Liteiny Prospect 24/27, apt. 28, entrance from Pestelya, St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is the topic of Andrey Bely in his avant-garde novel Petersburg published in 1922, where Bely develops the thought that Petersburg is nothing but a phantom and its importance lies only in the fact that it is the residency of a border country between East and West.
Pushkin's poem The Bronze Horseman, written at the beginning of the 19 th century contains the famous lines so often quoted about the window towards Europe. The poet speaks of St Petersburg, the Venice of the North, rising from the marshes.
The fact that Russia had achieved access to the Baltic Sea was received enthusiastically by the monarch, his people and later also by the poets. Pushkin's poem is dedicated to the man “whose word, like the power of destiny, has founded the city under the sea.”
Petersburg had been constructed as a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea. However, the focal point of city life was not the coast. The prosperous residents of St Petersburg did not build their houses on the coast. At the beginning of the 19 th century, the Strelka, the point of Vasilievsky Island, emerged as a distinctive landmark, featuring the stock exchange crowned with the figure of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, and rostral columns serving as lighthouses. This was an international harbour equipped with all the attributes and symbols befitting its status. The first trading ship from Holland docked here. The quays were piled with goods. But the harbour lay in the middle of the capital and not on the sea coast.
In today's Petersburg the The Bronze Horseman (the statue of Peter the Great on horseback) stands as a monument for Pushkin in the middle of the city, not far from the Nevsky Prospect, the main boulevard, that was the main topic of Nikolai Gogol's Petersburg Tales.
On the Nevsky Prospect, behind the German church, there is a passage to German Petri-Schule where Swedish speaking Petersburg poet Edith Södergran (1892 – 1923) went to school during the years 1902-1908.
Petersburg is the city in which Dostoevsky spent most of his life and in which he wrote most of his writings. During 28 years he rented more than 20 apartments. A lot of houses in St. Petersburg are linked with Dostoevsky in a peculiar way: he 'lodged' his characters in them. The writer's own life was thus intermingled with the lives of the heroes in his novels. In Dostoevsky's novels the central focus is on Petersburg's essential element, the water. The Neva with its canals plays an important role in his works, and we often find his heroes staring spellbound into the black depths. Petersburg emerged a long way from the sources of the Russian national mentality, and Dostoevsky called it “the world's most fictitious city”. The scene of each Dostoevsky's novel is usually laid in the vicinity of the apartment the writer was renting at the time. Having finished a novel Dostoevsky could no longer stay in the area 'inhabited' by the 'worked-out' characters. In the case of Crime and Punishment the atmosphere seems preserved; near Sennaya Square and Voznesensky bridge the neighbourhood where Raskolnikov lurked and murdered the pawn woman is to be found in close to original shape. Guided walks to the area are offered by the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum.
Joseph Brodsky (1940 - 1996) was a poet, essay-writer and the last Russian man of letters who was awarded the Nobel prize. In 1972 he was forced to emigrate to the USA where he became Professor of Literature and also the Member to the American Academy of Arts. For Brodsky the Baltic Sea has played a central role in his poetic visions. The last poem he wrote before he left the Soviet Union he wrote in Palanga, Lithuania: Lithuanian Divertimento , looking out over the Baltic Sea, for him it seemed to be the end of the world, without belief that he might be able to go on water.
In his home town, on Pestel Street, on the second floor of the famous Muruzi House, yet exists the large communal apartment, in "the room and a half" of which the poet spent seventeen years of his short life. The future museum is apt to become the only site that is really and truly memorial: the apartment has remained almost intact; there is the poet's library there, as well as his writing desk and other belongings. On the day of his departure detailed photographs were taken of the abandoned rooms, which allows to accurately restore the scene.
The future museum is meant to become the centre to research not only Brodsky's work but also the non-conformist culture of Leningrad in 1960s - 1980s and modern poetry, which will make another cultural bridge between Russia and the West.