Creative businesses and artistic collectives have breathed life back into St Petersburg’s historic buildings – and, they hope, some of its cultural glory

Downtown Saint Petersburg is street after street of extravagant mansions, tenement buildings and palaces built at the height of the Russian empire. Not all have managed to maintain their splendour since that golden era, however – though you might say there’s something romantic about the gentle sense of decay.

If St Petersburg’s history as Russia’s cultural capital is etched out in its architecture, over time, many of those etchings have become faded: its mansions and palaces have been turned into hotels or condominiums; others have fallen into disuse and disrepair. Approximately 15,000 buildings date to before 1914 and most of them badly need renovation.

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Read More Can artists save St Petersburg’s crumbling palaces?

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