Academy of Sciences Building

Although the symbol of the Russian Academy of Sciences is the building of the Kunstkammer, its original home, and the Academy's headquarters are now in a hideous 1960s tower-block in Moscow, this elegant neoclassical building on Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya has great significance not only for the history of the Academy but also for the development of architecture in St. Petersburg.

The Russian Academy of Sciences was founded by decree of Peter the Great in 1724. Originally housed in a mansion on the Petrograd Side, the Academy moved into the Kunstkammer in 1728. The Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi, who had arrived in St. Petersburg in 1780, was commissioned to construct a new building next to the Kunstkammer in 1783. Completed in 1789, the building, with its yellow plasterwork and fat white pillars and its rough granite fundament, was something of a template for future neoclassical designs in the city.

  • Academy of Sciences Building in St Petersburg as seen from the Neva River in April
    Academy of Sciences Building as seen from the Neva River in April
  • Poltava Battalion mosaic in St Petersburg, Russia
    Poltava Battalion mosaic
  • Interiors of the Academy of Sciences in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Interiors of the Academy of Sciences

The interiors of the building, particularly those of the Conference Hall, have been superbly preserved from the late 18th century, while in 1925 a mosaic of the Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava designed by the great Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov in the 1760s was installed at the top of the main staircase.

The Academy of Sciences of the USSR was transferred to Moscow in 1934, leaving the archive and library in Leningrad. Today, the building is home to the St. Petersburg Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Address:5, Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya
Metro:Vasileostrovskaya, Admiralteyskaya
Getting there:From Vasileostrovskaya Metro Station, turn right then right again down 6-ya Liniya, walk around 600m to the Neva River and turn left. The Academy of Sciences is a further 7-10 minutes' walk along the embankment.
From Admiralteyskaya Metro Station (or anywhere on Nevsky Prospekt), take a westbound bus (7, 27) or trolleybus (1, 10 or 11). The stop for the Twelve Colleges is the first after you cross the Neva River.
What's nearby? Neva River Menshikov Palace, Strelka (Spit) of Vasilevskiy Island, Twelve Colleges, Kunstkammer, Old Stock Exchange