Excerpt from Picturesque Russia and Greece
St. Petersburg is anything but a picturesque city. Everything is there arranged orderly and conveniently; the streets are broad, the Open spaces regular, the houses roomy; all is airy and light. There is no shade about the picture, n... o variety of tone. Everything is so convenient, so good-looking, so sensibly arranged, and so very mod ern, that Canaletto would have found it hard to have obtained for his canvas a single poetical tableau, such as would have presented itself to him at every corner in old French, German, or English cities, so rich in contrasts, recollection, and variegated life. The streets in St. Petersburg are so broad, the open places so vast, the arms of the river so mighty, that, large as the houses are in themselves, they are made to appear small by the gigantic plan of the whole. This effect is increased by the ex treme ¿atness of the site on which the city stands. No building is raised above the other. Masses of architecture, worthy of mountains for their pedestals, are ranged side by side, in endless lines. Nowhere gratified, either by elevation or grouping, the eye wanders over a monotonous sea of undulating palaces.
This sameness of aspect is at no time more striking than in winter, when the streets, the river, and the houses are all covered with one white. The white walls of the buildings seem to have no hold upon the ground, and the Palmyra of the North, under her leaden sky, looks rather like the shadow than the substance of a city. There are things in Nature pleasing to look upon and gratifying to think of, and yet anything but picturesque, and one of these is St. Petersburg.
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