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Vitebsk Rail Station (Vitebskiy Vokzal)

Built on the site of the first railway station in Russia, Vitebsk Station is a magnificent Art Nouveau building that has survived virtually unaltered since it was opened in 1904.

Russia's first railroad, running between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin), was laid in the 1830s under the supervision of Franz Anton Ritter von Gerstner, a professor at the Vienna University of Technology. Originally, the station in St. Petersburg was supposed to be located next to the Fontanka River, but due to budget overruns the decision was taken to build a temporary wooden station on Semyonovskiy Platz (now Pionerskaya Ploshchad). The first steam engine, called Provorny ("Nimble"), left St. Petersburg on 30 October 1837, driven by von Gerstner himself. It took 35 minutes to reach Tsarskoye Selo.

  • Vitebsk Railway Station in St. Petersburg, Russia during the White Nights
    Vitebsk Railway Station during the White Nights
  • Pediment of Vitebsk Railway Station in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Pediment of Vitebsk Railway Station
  • Clock on the tower of Vitebsk Railway Station in St Petersburg, Russia
    Clock on the tower of Vitebsk Railway Station
  • Wrought-iron railing at Vitebsk Railway Station in St Petersburg, Russia
    Wrought-iron railing at Vitebsk Railway Station
  • Metal construction (platform roofing) in Vitebsk Station in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Metal construction (platform roofing) in Vitebsk Station
  • Monument to von Gerstner - designer and builder of the first railway in Russia in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Monument to von Gerstner - designer and builder of the first railway in Russia
  • Art Nouveau decorations on the station walls in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Art Nouveau decorations on the station walls

Soon the wooden station was replaced with a two-storey stone building designed by Konstantin Ton. However, by the end of the 19th century, it proved inadequate for the increasingly heavy flow of passengers. Eventually, in 1902, Stanislav Brzhozovskiy (who had recently completed the Riga Station in Moscow) was commissioned to design a completely new building. He produced a masterpiece of Art Nouveau (or Style Moderne) architecture. The vast main hall is over 20 meters high and decorated with panels showing the history of the Tsarskoye Selo Railway and its stations. The main staircase is has marble banisters with bronze inlays, and the station also has a picture gallery with typically Art Nouveau plant decorations. The platform roof, meanwhile, is as impressive for its engineering ingenuity as its aesthetic qualities, and is the largest example of "iron architecture" in St. Petersburg.

Interiors of Vitebsk Railway Station in St Petersburg, Russia
Interiors of Vitebsk Railway Station

Next to the main station, Brzhozovskiy also built the Imperial Pavilion, designed as a private waiting room for Nicholas II and his family. In 1987, to mark the 150th anniversary of the first journey, a model of Provorny was placed in its own glass pavilion next to the platforms. In 2003, the station was fully renovated, and in 2007 a bust of von Gerstner was placed in the station concourse.

Address:52, Zagorodny Prospekt
Metro:Pushkinskaya
Getting there:Turn left out of Pushkinskaya Metro Station and it's the next building down.
What's nearby? Semyonovsky Regiment Infirmary (Museum of Military Medicine), Oceanarium, Pionerskaya Ploshchad, Gorokhovaya Ulitsa, Ulitsa Marata
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