At the beginning of the 18th century, when Saint Petersburg had just been established, the territory of what we now call the Field of Mars was a swamp. Not entirely, as it had some trees as well, but only later, it was decided to make it a military parade ground and an amusement meadow. Now, being a big memorial park, the biggest one in Northern Europe, the Field of Mars is still considered to be a place for a nice stroll.
The Field of Mars, like many of Saint Petersburg sights, is located pretty close to other nice places. The most common way to reach it is to turn right when going down Nevsky Avenue towards Aleksandrovsky Garden and the Admiralty, just in front of the famous Singer House. Then, you’ll see the iconic Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Keep moving towards it, and the Field of Mars is at a stone’s throw from there. The Field of Mars is also located very close to Summer Garden, known as a summer residence of Peter the Great, the first Emperor of Russia. Two objects are divided with the Swan Canal, connecting the Moika River to the Neva River. People who like walking can also seize the moment and build a route from there to the Palace Square, via Palace Embankment.
After draining of swamps, the field was used for military parades, as well as for celebrations with fireworks and stuff. The second wife of Peter the Great, Catherine I of Russia, began refining the future Field of Mars, making it more like a park with lawns, alleys, and fountains. But, the place was so spacious that nevertheless, it had been used for military training, parades, and everything related. Some barracks were also built nearby. That’s how the field got its name - because of Mars, the ancient Roman god of war. The monument of Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire, was erected there as well, but later had been moved where it stands now, to the center of the square called by his name. In the 20th century, it was decided to establish a necropolis here for victims of the February Revolution, the October Revolution, and even the Russian Civil War. It was a burial place until 1933, and during that time, had the name of the Revolution Victims Square.
The Field of Mars was of high importance during the Great Patriotic War, as it hosted artillery, and had entrenchments for defense purposes. After the Siege of Leningrad (former name of Saint Petersburg) was over in 1944, the Field of Mars got its original name back. In 1957, the Field of Mars became the first place in the whole country, where eternal flame, to commemorate all who died during the war, was lit. Even the eternal flame in Moscow derives from this one, too.
Despite some plans to develop the square with some buildings, it remained what it was from the very beginning - a huge space for enjoying time in the open. Now, locals and visitors of Saint Petersburg, walk there a lot, do some sports, sit on benches and stay to get a breath of fresh air. The Field of Mars is particularly great during spring and summer time, when lilac bushes are blooming.
The Field of Mars is definitely a place to visit when you need a good old walk away from noisy city streets. Being a big memorial park, it attracts people with its vastness and tranquility.
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