Before our 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia, we watched Fox Animation Studios’ movie, “Anastasia” – one of our favorites growing up! I recently watched the movie again and recognized many of the places we saw in St. Petersburg and while many parts of Anastasia’s story weren’t exactly historically accurate in the movie, many of the places were!
First some background information: “Anastasia” is the tale of Anastasia Romanov. The Romanovs were the Royal family of Russia (aka the Tsars) who ruled from 1613-1917. Their reign was ended with the Russian Revolution when the Bolshevik Red Army executed the Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina and their 5 children. When the bodies were later recovered not all of them were found, supporting rumors that the youngest daughter, Anastasia, survived. The rumors were later proved false by DNA evidence but the movie plays on the idea that Princess Anastasia survived.
The movie begins in Catherine Palace and later this is where Anya (aka Anastasia), Vlad, and Dimtri meet (as confirmed by the passerby that Anya asks for directions)! The palace was one of the summer homes of the Romanov family, initially commissioned by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I. The initial modest planned 2 story residence was transformed into the grandeur that it became thanks to their daughter Elizabeth.
Walking into the Grand Hall, it is easy to imagine the extravagant balls that were held here, just like the one at the beginning of the movie. Decorated in the Baroque style, there is gold plating everywhere you look and the room spans the width of the palace with large windows and mirrors lining the walls on both sides. This layout of mirrors and windows makes the ballroom appear even larger than it already is!
At the very beginning of the song “Learn to Do It”, Anya learns she was born in “a palace by the sea”, which you later find out is the Peterhof Palace. Named after Peter the Great, the Peterhof Palace sits along to the Gulf of Finland with a canal leading all the way to the rear of the palace. The end of the canal is home to many gold plated statues and fountains known as the Grand Cascade.
The last building that caught my attention during the movie was only shown in a pan of St. Petersburg. Within the cityscape you can make out the unique top of the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. The church stands on the spot of Russian Emperor Alexander II’s assassination in 1881. According to our tour guide this was what Russia considers to be its first act of terrorism. Unlike most cathedrals, no traditional church services were or are held in this church; the only ceremonies that happen in this cathedral are weekly remembrances for Alexander II and sermon readings.
I have always loved the movie Anastasia and it was so neat to see some of the places from the movie in real life! And it was great to learn the true history behind the different buildings in St. Petersburg that are shown or referenced in the movie. Keep an eye out for some of these landmarks next time you watch it….it’s on Netflix now, what are you waiting for?!
*Please note all screenshots from Fox Animation Studios’ ‘Anastasia’ were found here*