In 1740 Russian tsarina Anna Ioannovna signed off on the idea of celebrating the recent peace treaty with Turkey (and, coincidentally, a decade anniversary of her throne) by erecting an "Ice Palace" in front of her own (stone) palace and organizing a mock wedding of her clowns. The ice house project itself was hardly a joke, overseen by a notable "starchitect" of the Russian capital at the time - Peter Eropkin. Partly, it was an attempt by one of his bosses, a certain Volynsky, to win the empress over after critizing her German ministers.
The project was a smashing success, but that didn't save either of them.
Both Volynsky and Eropkin were executed by the same empress
less than a year later. And four months after that, she herself died (we seriously doubt that the pangs of conscience were the cause). All in all, a typical Russian story.
Blissfully oblivioius to the historical parallels, an "ice studio" headed by
Valery Gromov decided to create a "modern interpretation" of the ice palace project, some 266 years later. We are happy to report that the team stayed true to this aggressive goal. So true, in fact, that the web site
(icestudio.ru) of the studio features a "splash" page
built in the best traditions of Russian servitude, complete
with a portrait of and a quote from the current head of state - in this case, Vladimir Putin.
In all fairness to the artists, the project is impressive.
A bit too impressive, perhaps, since way
too many Petersburgers
turned out to see it. We stand humbled by their endurance.
Only in Russia can people be content
with waiting in two lines in winter - 1.5 hours (!) to get their tickes
and half an hour more to actually enter the territory of the "ice palace".
Luckily, photos from the outside were permitted, which allows us
to bring you the pictures without too much sacrifice on our part.