Senate Square

St Petersburg

Centred on the famed statue of the Bronze Horseman, this square is listed on city maps as Senatskaya ploshchad (Senate Sq). Its dominant feature is the immense facade of St Isaac’s Cathedral. Most of the west side of the square is occupied by the Central State Historical Archives and the newer Yeltsin Presidential Library, both of which are housed in the former Senate and Synod buildings, built by Carlo Rossi between 1829 and 1834.

Until 2008 the square was known as Ploshchad Dekabristov (Decembrists’ Sq) after the first attempt at a Russian revolution: the Decembrists’ Uprising of 14 December 1825. The Decembrists were young officers who were inspired by radical ideas from France during the Napoleonic campaigns and wanted to introduce constitutional monarchy. Ineptly, they set up their protest on the same day as the swearing-in ceremony of the new tsar, Nicholas I. After repeated attempts by Nicholas’ ministers to reason with the rebels, they were fired upon. Many officers and bystanders died as a result. Most of the leaders later ended up on the gallows or in Siberia.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby St Petersburg attractions

1. Bronze Horseman

0.02 MILES

The most famous statue of Peter the Great was immortalised as the Bronze Horseman in the epic poem by Alexander Pushkin. With his horse (representing…

2. Alexander Garden

0.13 MILES

Laid out from 1872 to 1874, these pleasant gardens, named after Alexander II, wrap around the Admiralty and are mentioned in Pushkin's famous verse novel…

3. Manege Central Exhibition Hall

0.15 MILES

Formerly the Horse Guards’ Riding School, this large white neoclassical building was constructed between 1804 and 1807 from a design by Giacomo Quarenghi…

4. Admiralty


The gilded spire of the Admiralty is a prime St Petersburg landmark, visible from Gorokhovaya ul, Voznesensky pr and Nevsky pr, as all of these roads…

5. St Isaac's Cathedral


The golden dome of St Isaac’s Cathedral dominates the St Petersburg skyline. Its obscenely lavish interior is open as a museum, although services are held…

6. Popov Communications Museum

0.26 MILES

Housed in the fabulous 18th-century palace of Chancellor Bezborodko, this museum of communications is the perfect addition to Pochtamtskaya ul (Post…

8. Menshikov Palace


The first stone building in the city, the Menshikov Palace was built to the grandiose tastes of Prince Alexander Menshikov, Peter the Great’s closest…