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"One of the Earliest Engraved Plans of St. Petersburg" (Campbell)

Finely executed plan of the city and environs of St. Petersburg and protective fortifications, engraved by the Berlin engraver Georg Paul Busch.

The site for St. Petersburg, the future capital of Imperial Russia, was selected in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great   Peter pressed a massive labor force of serfs to build the city, which required tens of thousands of laborers and soldiers to drain the swamps, build the canals and fortifications, and erect the buildings.   Leading architects and artisans from across Europe were offered large salaries to dedicate themselves to the task. The overall project was overssen by the French landscape architect, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blonde, who had previously served Louis XIV, assisted by the Swiss architect Domenico Andrea Trezzini.

Before the construction of St. Petersburg, the area was sparsely populated and consisted mainly of swamps and forests. Peter chose the location for the city because of its strategic position on the Baltic Sea at the head of theG Gulf of Finland, which would allow Russia to have a port that was not frozen over for most of the year. He also wanted to create a city that would rival the great European capitals of the time.  The city grew rapidly and became the capital of Russia in 1712, just 11 years after its founding.

 The present plan engraved by Busch reflects both actual and planned development. The layout of Vasilyevsky Island is shown in accordance with the project of the Architect D. Trezzini, which provided for a rectangular network of channels. The project for the construction of canals was not fully implemented, but their network formed the basis of the modern lines of Vasilyevsky Island.  Projected development is also shown on Petersburg Island and the Moscow Side.

 In the upper left corner there is a legend with over 50 points of interest, with a drawing of the newly built Kronstadt Fortress below.  The lower right corner includes a richly decorated cartouche with the bust of Tsar Peter I, below the inscription: "Petrus Alexiewisch Imperator Semper Augustus Csaar et Autocrator Totius Rossiae".  In the background is a battle scene. The portrait is copied from an engraving by A. Zubov from the publication: нига Марсова… (The Book of Mars ...),  St. Petersburg, 1713. 


The map is very rare. 

OCLC locates examples at the Bavarian State Library, University of Hamburg, British Library (acquired in 1982) and University of Strassbourg.

Condition Description
Repaired fold split in right fold.
Tony Campbell, Imago Mundi, 1983, Vol. 35 (1983) p.114.