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Summer Petersburg: Vacations of Petersburgers a Hundred Years Ago
May 20, 2020 15:08

(Source: https://kudago.com/all/news/letnij-peterburg-dachnii-otdih-v-20-vere)
Fresh grass,  warm sun and leaves appearing on the trees every year call us to leave the city. History says it's a long tradition. Let's go back to the dacha life of Petersburgers of the XIX ― beginning of the XX centuries.

Fashion to the country side

Since the 30s of the XIX century, residents of St. Petersburg began to leave the city, rent houses, and build their own summer cottages. Initially, this was the privilege of rich people, but later, a summer trip became "mandatory" for any self-respecting family - from wealthy merchants to clerks. Petersburgers quickly and willingly accepted the new fashion that came from Europe. Dachas were surrounded by islands, which are now an integral part of urban life - Krestovsky, Kamenny, Elagin, and Aptekarsky. Then the houses were built in Yekaterinhof,  Pavlovsk, along the Nikolaev railway and later on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. 


By  the location of the dacha at the beginning of the 20th century, a Petersburger could determine  the well-being and origin of the owner. High officials and wealthy landowners lived in Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof and other imperial residences. Sestroretsk and the resort area were chosen by representatives of the big bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. Pavlovsk and Kamenny Island were aristocratic summer cottages. Doctors, writers, lawyers, and professors settled along the Finland Railway. There, for example, Chukovsky, Gorky, Leonid Andreev, Repin spent vacations. 


Not everyone could afford building their own home. Therefore, rental was a mass phenomenon. Prices for summer houses before the revolution varied depending on the comfort of the premises and the diversity of nature around. So, a five-room summer house in Pavlovsk for the whole summer cost 300 rubles. For 150 rubles it was possible to rent a two-story house in Perkijärvi (now the village of Kirillovskoye) on the lake with a bath and a boat. Small houses far from the water cost 50 rubles per summer.  For comparison, renting a large apartment in St. Petersburg for a month cost 150 rubles.

Dacha time


Often, cottages were rented unfurnished, therefore, in addition to all the necessary personal items, furniture was also brought from the city.    First of all, families were engaged in arranging interiors and creating cosiness in the house, and then switched to flower beds and front gardens. Flowerbeds were decorated with colorful mirror balls and gnome figures.   Benches in the garden and at the entrance to it were mandatory.  
  In Sestroretsk and Terioki (now Zelenogorsk), long bridges were built on the Gulf of Finland, where one could go to the depths and swim. Also among popular activities were fishing, horseback riding, cycling, picnics with samovars and gramophones. Richer families  visited yacht clubs and tennis courts. 

Country houses 

The annual escape from city life and the desire to return to nature influenced the summer cottage architecture.   Outside the city, houses were often built of wood, and their space had to be open to nature: wide balconies, loggias, verandas, large windows, bay windows - as much light and air as possible.  Architects focused on the ease of form, and the look of houses emphasized the relationship with nature. In the second half of the 19th century, the houses in the spirit of Russian folklore, Gothic, and Northern Art Nouveau were very popular. 

The suburban architecture, which is still preserved today in St. Petersburg and its suburbs, may disappear very soon. Unique buildings sag under the yoke of time, harsh climate, mold and parasites. One cottages are more lucky: they are not only taken under state protection, but are also repaired, and adapted for modern use. About the beauty of others only their ruins tell. 






Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: St. Petersburg travel to Russia dacha   

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