Azov-Don Bank Building

This imposing grey granite building a few steps from Palace Square was built for the Azov-Don Commercial Bank, one of the largest banking houses in pre-Revolutionary Russia, but is better known to most Petersburgers as the Central Telephone Station.

The building was designed by Fyodor Lidval, a Russian-Swedish architect who produced some of the finest examples of Northern Moderne, a style that combined Art Nouveau sensibilities with the severe forms of industrial neoclassicism and building materials suitable to the harsh northern climate of Scandinavia and Northern Russia. In the case of the Azov-Don Bank, his designs emphasized the classical, befitting the building's proximity to the magnificent arch of the General Staff Building.

Azov-Don Bank Building in St Petersburg, Russia
Azov-Don Bank Building

Construction was carried out in two stages. The section of the building closer to Nevsky Prospekt, with its massive four-column portico, was built 1907-1909 on the site of the Belle Vue Hotel, which had counted Ivan Turgenev and Jerome K. Jerome among its guests. The bank then acquired the neighboring building, which Lidval reconstructed 1912-1913 to produce a single asymmetrical facade faced in grey Karelian granite, with sculptures and bas-reliefs by Vasiliy Kuznetsov.

Sculptural decorationation on the Azov-Don Bank Building in St Petersburg, Russia
Sculptural decorationation on the Azov-Don Bank Building

The bank's vast operations hall was the first place in Russia to be equipped with an automatic telephone system, and for many decades was used by Petersburgers and foreigners to make intercity and international phone calls. It is now home to a microbrewery and pub, which is worth visiting just to look at the impressively preserved interiors.

Address:3-5, Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa
Getting there:On leaving the metro, turn right and then left onto Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa. Cross Nevsky Prospekt, and it is the second building on your left.
What's nearby? Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad), Nevsky Prospekt, Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad), General Staff Building, Malaya Morskaya Ulitsa, Wawelberg Building