Activists Protest to Save Historic Nikolsky Market
Published: July 16, 2014 (Issue # 1820)
Preservationist activists protested Monday against what they called the ongoing demolition of the Nikolsky Market, the state-protected 18th-century building in the city’s historic Kolomna district.
Protesters claim that the vast two-floor structure is essentially being torn down to give way to a multifunctional complex featuring a Crowne Plaza hotel with an underground parking garage, all under the guise of reconstruction.
The plan includes a tall glass structure filling the courtyard of the building that would protrude 2.2 meters over the top of the building, which protesters believe will damage the historic appearance of the Nikolsky Market even if the outside walls are kept.
About 30 people came to a small park next to the site to speak about the endangered building, display placards and paintings, recite poems, distribute flyers and collect signatures for a petition to President Vladimir Putin, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and St. Petersburg’s Acting Governor Georgy Poltavchenko urging them to stop work on the site.
According to activists, the developer received a permit directly from the Ministry of Culture in Moscow without having both the project authorized in St. Petersburg and presenting it to local experts and residents.
Instead of careful restoration, the project involves the destruction of most of the inner walls and a total overhaul of the building using modern materials, the petition states, adding that such a reconstruction effectively means the destruction of the landmark.
“Has our city been seized by savage barbarians?” read one poster, continuing, “No! It’s the Ministry of Culture and the Committee for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks destroying the architectural landmark.”
Another placard accused Poltavchenko of the continued destruction of the city’s historic buildings. “An architectural landmark is being destroyed here. Let’s demolish everything! Vote for Poltavchenko. Let’s tear the city down to the ground!” it said.
City authorities authorized a one-hour picket without the use of sound-amplifying equipment, while the police on site prohibited the activists from placing placards either on the embankment or on the fence now surrounding the building. The activists were also warned against stepping on the grass.
The Nikolsky Market, historically called Nikolskiye Ryady in Russian, was built by an unknown architect in 1789. Located on 62 Sadovaya Ulitsa, it occupies a large area between Sadovaya Ulitsa, Kryukov Kanal, Nikolsky Pereulok and Shchepyany Pereulok.
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