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Fascinating Field of Mars

Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city that is filled with all sorts of parks and palaces. One such attraction is the Field of Mars. This striking park adjoins the Summer Gardens and St. Michaels Gardens and is situated not far from the St Michael Palace. It has a long history and it has changed both name and purpose numerous times since it was first created in the 18th century.

The Field of Mars in Russia started life as an overgrown bog that was not much use to anything other than the animals that lived there. When Peter the Great decided to develop the city of Saint Petersburg, the bog was turned into a massive meadow area called The Grand Meadow. It was initially used as a parade ground for inspections of the troops, and various celebrations and parades were held here in celebration of Russia’s Northern War victory. Some time later, Peter the Great decided to build a great palace next to the field for his wife, Catherine I. This lead to the field being renamed ‘Tsarina’s Meadow’. It was many years later, in 1805, that it was renamed the Field of Mars.

For many years after that, the Field of Mars continued to be used as a training grounds for the regimented guards and for parades. Emperor Paul was especially fond of these parades and so had his official residence – Mikhailovsky Castle – built next to it facing Catherine’s Palace so that he could watch them from the leisure of his own balcony. During the second half of the 19th century this grand field enjoyed a short respite from the drudgery of military work when it became a place of leisure for ordinary people to enjoy. During this period, it became home to quite a large number of attractions and amusements. Yet by 1917 it came to have a more somber use as it became the graveyard for the thousands who had died during the February Revolution. Many heroes of the Revolution continued to be buried here between 1917 and 1919 and so it was seen fit to erect the ‘Fighters for the Revolution’ monument here.

Oddly enough, the very next use of the field was that of a vegetable garden, which provided the people of Saint Petersburg with valuable nourishment during the Siege of Leningrad. Today it is a mixture of war memorial, public park and historical attraction. The palaces bordering the park are truly beautiful and add appeal to a visit here. So the next time you are in Saint Petersburg, make sure that you visit the Field of Mars in Russia.

 



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