1806 – 1823. Architect: Adrian Zakharov
The austere and balanced neoclassical style achieved its most eloquent expression during the reign of Alexander I. Built in 1823 as the headquarters of the Imperial Russian Navy, the Admiralty is the focal point of mainland St. Petersburg. Three major streets, including Nevsky Prospekt, radiate from the Admiralty and its gilded spire can be seen miles away, along the entire length of the streets. Placed at a key location close to the Neva River, this immense yet elegant building visually unifies the urban space through the vistas created by the city’s broad avenues and embankments.
The building’s abundant statuary draws on classical mythology and history to highlight Russia’s naval power. At the bottom of the central tower are four statues of ancient military leaders Achilles, Ajax, Pyrrhus and Alexander the Great. The tower is decorated with twenty-eight stone columns and twenty-eight sculptures representing the four elements, the four seasons, the four cardinal winds, the Muse of Astronomy Urania and the Egyptian goddess Isida, patroness of shipbuilding (two of each). The weathervane shaped as a sailboat on top of the spire has become a familiar symbol of St. Petersburg.