This post was written by undergraduate student, Tali Kadoch, who is currently abroad while participating in the BRIC Program…
The topic of this blog was easily chosen. Since the moment we arrived to St. Petersburg I’ve been fascinated with every single building in this city, there’s not a single modern or regular looking building here, everything is imposing, excessive and full of history. It is impossible not to look at them with extreme amusement and take pictures- they are simply beautiful. But there’s one thing about them that makes me skeptical, and as professor Seitz reminded us one of the last days of classes: it is necessary to enjoy the buildings, but even more important to keep in mind that there is something powerful behind those constructions, we need to analyze and be critical about it.
This European influenced architectural styles, are intentionally designed to intimidate, to create fear, they scream “power”. Not too many years ago, while over 90% of the population of this country was illiterate and lived across the rural areas of the Russian steppe, very few monarchs lived in those beautiful buildings that today we all admire. The tsarist society, those corrupted power-abuser, serf-owner families are the reason why St. Petersburg’s streets are so delightful to walk around.
As George Bernard Shaw said: “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” Maybe the fact that UNESCO declared it a world heritage site, means the defeat of that era. But regardless of that, we can’t ignore the history this city. We must never lose our innate curiosity and ask ourselves “why?”. Just so we don’t stay in the superficial phase of being a tourist, without ever digging deeper.