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Nevsky Prospect

In every old town, there is the main street. In Saint Petersburg, this is Nevsky Prospect. However, unlike other cities, the main street in Saint Petersburg is huge — four and a half kilometres long. Even if you decide to just walk along the right side of Nevsky at one end and then along the left side at the other end, you will have to walk nine kilometres, which not every tourist can do.

At the same time, the entire Nevsky Prospect is a complete open-air museum of architecture. Every house is a work of art. And this is not counting the numerous streets adjacent to Nevsky Prospect. Everything is so beautiful. Soon I was convinced that the expression “fabulous beauty” fits almost the entire centre of Saint Petersburg.

We went for a walk around Nevsky at about 10 a. m. The day was sunny. In India, I always avoided walking in the open sun, as there it is too hot, which causes a migraine. Women in India avoid sun rays for fear of getting too dark skin colour, which is exactly the opposite of the desire of European ones to get a tan. In India, the skin of girls is already brown; moreover, a dark shade is associated not with deformity (not beauty).

However, to my great surprise, the sun in Saint Petersburg did not burn the skin at all. On the contrary, it was so cool that we had to wear warm clothes — and this is in the summer! For me, this climate seemed fantastically beautiful! I did not know anything about how different the climate is in northern latitudes. Like most tourists, once in a new place, I decided that the climate in it is always the same as on the day of my arrival.

The June climate in Saint Petersburg seemed to me the best in the world. The sun was shining, a fresh breeze was blowing, and the temperature was about 18 degrees. It was so easy for me to breathe; there was no Indian heat and migraine that it provokes. You can walk endlessly and enjoy the walk. Great climate!

Subsequently, our friends in Saint Petersburg explained to me that there is a good climate here only in summer: in June, July, and August. Sometimes the weather is good enough in May. However, since September, the weather deteriorates. It becomes cold, it rains frequently; slush and piercing wind accompany you everywhere. In the period from October to April, the residents of Saint Petersburg feel especially hard. Six months of cold piercing winds, darkness, and overhanging gloomy clouds. At this time, many people here suffer from depression.

Nevertheless, on my very first day in Saint Petersburg, on June 4, 2011, the weather was amazing. My mind refused to believe in the words of Sasha and his friends about the weights of climate in other periods; I thought they were exaggerating. It was only on my second visit to Saint Petersburg, in the second half of September of the same year, that I was convinced that there was no exaggeration in their words. The consequence of that trip was a cold.

We walked along Nevsky Prospect and stopped only to take pictures at the most liked sights. On this day, Sasha came up with an extensive program for us; therefore, it was necessary to have time to visit many places.

On Saturday morning, the movement of pedestrians and cars along Nevsky Prospect was quite small. I noted that in comparison with Moscow, the rhythm of life in Saint Petersburg is much calmer; it is not customary to run and even walk fast. There are much fewer cars and people here. But here is much more beautiful.

I was shocked by the beauty of Saint Petersburg. All the time, Sasha was telling me something about the houses and streets that we passed; however, I could not concentrate on the meaning of his words. The local beauty absorbed all my attention. I constantly stopped near any building and looked at it for a long time.

‘Oh, my God, could people really create such a thing?!’ I asked, puzzled.

‘You see, they could,’ Sasha made a helpless gesture.

My eyes were filled with tears. However, these were not tears of sorrow. I was overwhelmed with delight. I have never seen such beauty anywhere as in Saint Petersburg. I could not even imagine that somewhere in the world there exists a city of such beauty.

Later I found out that there are about eight thousand architectural monuments in Saint Petersburg. To examine them all, it would take several months or even years. We did not have so much time; we had only two days at our disposal. Therefore, the inspection of this city was carried out only outside and at a waltzing pace.

Before this trip, I thought that the most beautiful city in Russia was the capital — Moscow. Just a few days before the trip to St. Petersburg, I first saw Moscow. Then delight overwhelmed me, my eyes were moistened when I saw Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and the churches of the Kremlin. I thought that there is nothing more beautiful. Now I was walking along the streets and avenues of Saint Petersburg and the feeling of something even more ambitious, not fitting into any words, filled me to tears.

Sasha clarified to me the mystery of the beauty of this city. The greatest epoch in the history of the Russian Empire was two centuries: from the beginning of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century. During this period, Russia reached the highest power and wealth. It was during this period that the capital of the Russian Empire was not Moscow but Saint Petersburg. Moscow at that time was a provincial city.

All the wealth of the empire was sent to the capital, i. e. to Saint Petersburg. Here lived the royal family, confidants, government, aristocracy, industrialists, and financiers. For 200 years, the main palaces, government buildings, and private property of the most influential and wealthy Russians were built in Saint Petersburg. These factors explain that it is in Saint Petersburg that the most magnificent museums, buildings, art galleries, theatres, palaces, and architectural complexes in all of Russia are concentrated.

However, not only the adoration of beauty made me cry. I had a very strong feeling of déjà vu. I felt that I lived in this city, felt that I returned home. From the very first steps in Saint Petersburg, I felt at home. When I looked at these streets, at those houses, I got a lump in my throat; I felt a pinching feeling of homeland.

Only years later, through spiritualistic experiences, I learned that in a past life in the second half of the 18th-early 19th centuries, I really lived in Saint Petersburg.


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