Mertens Trade House

A striking example of early 20th century neoclassicism, the Mertens Trade House caused a scandal among traditionalists when it was unveiled in 1912, but the three monumental arches of its facade have long since become an integral part of the architecture of Nevsky Prospekt.

The Mertens family company, established in 1841, was among the leading fur trading concerns in St. Petersburg. In the 1870s, the company acquired a four-storey neo-renaissance building on Nevsky Prospekt, opposite Bolshaya Konushennaya Ulitsa. Fyodor Fyodorovich Mertens, son of the company's founder, decided to reconstruct the building to provide more retail space, and commissioned the Polish-born architect Marian Lalewicz.

  • Mertens Trade House on Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
    Mertens Trade House on Nevsky Prospekt
  • Details of Mertens Trade House on Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
    Details of Mertens Trade House on Nevsky Prospekt

Employing the recently introduced technology of reinforced concrete, Lalwicz produced a severely simple design that gave maximum window space, the austerity of which was softened by decorative friezes and sculpture by Vasiliy Kuznetsov.

The building continued to be used for retail of clothing after the October Revolution, first as the Nevsky Prospekt Fashion House and then, after the Second World War, as the USSR's first House of Clothing Models - an institution charged with developing and promoting new fashions for the people. Since restoration work in 2008, the building has been the local flagship store for Spanish brand Zara, although it still bares the name "Dom Mertensa", and the Mertens family logo - a polar bear holding a sphere - can be seen on a fountain in the building's courtyard.

Address:21, Nevsky Prospekt
Metro:Nevsky Prospekt / Gostiny Dvor, Admiralteyskaya
Getting there:From Nevsky Prospekt or Gostiny Dvor, leave the metro via the Kanal Griboedova exit. Cross the canal and walk along Nevsky around 150m to Bolshaya Konushennaya Ulitsa. The building is opposite.
What's nearby? Bolshaya Konushennaya Ulitsa, Moyka River, Kazan Cathedral, Stroganov Palace, Dutch Reform Church Building, German Lutheran Church of St. Peter