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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Art Nouveau and the Elisseeff Emporium, St. Petersburg

There is oodles of art nouveau architecture throughout St. Petersburg, demonstrating that Peter the Great's efforts to bring European aesthetics to Russia continued for centuries after his death.  He made his mark on the city and it was a self-perpetuating process.  This shining example of it is on the bustling Nevsky Prospekt street, the main artery that runs through both the older neighborhoods of St. Petersburg as well as into the Stalin era Federal architecture that forms a ring around old St. Petersburg and has its own charms, if you like solidly built buildings. 
Everyday that we were in St. Petersburg we were on this street, and this building, which is an old and venerated food emporium. 
The building was built at the turn of the 19th century, so before the Russian Revolution, after which it underwent significant change.  It wasn't until recently that it was restored to its former glory, with baked goods that look too good to eat and lots of luxury food items that are too expensive for most mortals to afford.  While we were there the ruble had tumbled in value against other world currencies, both because of the price of gas and oil and because Putin was aggravating other world leaders, so in some ways the store felt almost fake, or at least something from a  bygone era, but elegant and exotic and a pleasure to walk through.

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