If you are looking for something unique to do in Saint Petersburg, experience Russian Blacksmith mastership!
Saint Petersburg's numerous palaces and railings are amongst the most beautiful in the world, and are adorned by equally beautiful, world-class ironwork.
Guide for You can offer you a visit to a traditional working blacksmith's forge. Here you can learn how to shape iron with an experienced master of metal, and even test your own skills in his private workshop!
The strength, permanence and beauty of iron have ensured its central place in Western architecture through many centuries. Structural and "fixtural" ironwork, both decorative and functional, reached its peak in the nineteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution led to its use on a scale hitherto unknown. Genuine wrought iron always remained (and still remains) a handicraft, but cast iron, produced with molds, lent itself easily to mass production.
The fixtures and structural elements that can be made of iron are diverse and include: balustrades, banisters, fences and railings; doors and gates; balconies, crestings and finials; window grilles, transoms and fanlights; spandrels and brackets; panels; stairs; marquees; signs; lamps; columns; and roof hip and curb plates.
The beauty of cities like Paris, New Orleans, Seville, Brussels and Saint Petersburg owes much to the superb quality of their ironwork.
Many of Saint Petersburg's beautiful buildings are adorned with ironwork designed by famous architects. Not only are the city's ensembles harmonious and perfect, but they also contain many unique details which are made of iron.
Metal lacework borders balconies, emphasizing windows and door frames. Ironwork from the first half of the eighteenth century is remarkable for its Baroque style, with the silhouettes characterised by voluminous capitals, spirals, interconnections and pomp shells.
Under the ideas of Classicism in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the spirit of the style was rendered by distinct patterns, vertical articulates and plain silhouettes.
Since the 1830s, changes in architectural style meant that the demand for decorative metalwork also changed. Historicism combined all of the best-known, and best-loved, features of the different styles of previous epochs.
At the end of the nineteenth century, a new modern style was born which neglected any kind of replication. This was based on new technological achievements and ideals of progress.
Saint Petersburg has many examples of ironwork from these different periods. Each example also reflects the tastes of those who commissioned it.
The most famous and elegant example of ironwork in Saint Petersburg is the railing of the Summer Gardens. This was designed during the reign of Catherine the Great in 1784 by two architects - Y. Felten and P. Yegorov. 36 monolithic granite columns with alternating vases and urns are linked by the railing, thought to be one of the world’s finest examples of ironwork.
Saint Petersburg's humid climate means that the centuries-old ironwork on many of the historical buildings has to be cared for especially carefully. This work is carried out by a number of master metalworkers, whose task it is to protect and constantly monitor the state of the city's metallic works of art. If a problem is discovered that is too serious to resolve in situ, the ironwork is restored in the blacksmiths' workshops.
Why not witness the unique process of restoring one of the city's historical pieces of ironwork, or even participate in such a process under the attentive supervision of a master blacksmith?
The process that Saint Petersburg blacksmiths use to treat metal has not changed in hundreds of years, making it as authentic as the ironwork in question. It comprises the following stages:
The heating of a piece of metal in a traditional charcoal furnace;
Forging the metal using a variety of tools, a lot of skill and a certain amount of strength;
Hardening the completed piece, before applying any final decorative touches.
All this is done in the blacksmith's workshop, which is equipped with a furnace, an anvil and wide range of metalworking tools.
Discover the power of fire and its impact on metal!
You can even take your time to make some traditional souvenirs under the guidance of a master blacksmith. These could be a lucky horseshoe, a romantic rose, or even a symbolic key to someone's heart!
Providing you with the perspective of a blacksmith, this experience will give you a unique insight into the miraculous process of transforming a shapeless piece of metal into a masterpiece.