The famous Singer House is a symbol of our city. It is doubtful whether there is a single tourist who visited St. Petersburg but didn’t see this place. The building is easy to find on Nevsky Prospect. It has attracted the attention of not only tourists but also residents of the city for more than 100 years. However, residents of St. Petersburg didn’t immediately fall in love with it.
The history of the Singer House began in the early 20th century. Construction led by architect Pavel Suzor lasted from 1902 to 1904. The project was ordered by the American company Singer, which was engaged in the manufacture of sewing machines. The place – the cross of the Griboyedov Canal with Nevsky Prospect, wasn’t chosen by chance – the building was attributed to a large commercial and business potential.
The company Singer was the official owner of the “skyscraper” until 1917. Offices of banks, ethnographic exhibitions and the shop of a clothing company were located on the lower floors of the building. Workshops were on the upper floors. In 1919 the building passed to the state publishing house. The House of Books was opened in 1938.
During the Second World War, the building was damaged badly, the windows had to be closed with boards, but the bookstore continued to work even during this difficult time. After the war, the Singer House was restored, and it was reopened.
According to the first project, the building looked like a New York skyscraper, but it was forbidden to build houses above the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Architect Pavel Suzor found a way to fulfil the task and not violate the ban.
The main part of the building consisted of 6 floors, which didn’t contradict the requirement, and the architect constructed an attic and a glass dome on the 7th floor. Firstly, the ban applied only to the facade, and the attic and the dome aren’t part of it. Secondly, made of glass, they fit into the surrounding space so easily that they didn’t break the grandeur of the main attractions around.
It is believed that the Singer House was built in the Art Nouveau style, however, some elements are made in the Neo-Baroque style. The building is decorated with two-coloured granite, sculptural compositions, floral ornaments and forged gratings. The corner part is decorated with bronze valkyries. One has a harpoon in her hands, symbolizing heavy industry, the other has a spear and a sewing machine that reminds of Singer’s activities. Some elements that symbolize trade on the facade of the building.
During the construction, the metal frame was used for the first time, which made it possible to perform such a bold architect’s decision as huge stained glass windows. The presence of the atrium was atypical for the city of those years.
Suzor implemented many innovations, starting with the elevator and ending with the automated cleaning of snow from the roof with steam. The interior is made in the Art Nouveau style: an asymmetric staircase in the lobby, visually increasing the hall space, the overall composition of the central atrium-hall and a large number of bronze forgings.
The dome made of glass and metal was very unusual for the beginning of the XX century. It is decorated with a large glass globe, personifying the ambitions of the customer company. The eagle on the dome appeared only during the First World War, to emphasize that the Singer is an American company.
House of Books
The House of Books occupies the first 3 floors of the building. The ground floor is particularly noteworthy: much has been restored during restoration work, but there are also original elements that have survived from Czarist times.
The House of Books offers more than 120,000 books of different genres. You can also buy souvenirs, handicrafts and supplies for different types of creativity here.
On the second floor of the building is a cafe “Singer”. It has been a favourite place not only for the employees of this building but also for residents and guests of the capital for 10 years.
Cosy atmosphere and friendly staff will make your stay truly comfortable. Panoramic windows overlooking the Kazan Cathedral and the main prospect of the city, as well as the aroma of fresh pastries and coffee will not leave anyone indifferent. And the Venetian plaster on the walls, comfortable leather chairs, antique chests, bookcases and the finest white porcelain will help you to reconsider into the atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century.
The cafe is open daily from 9 am to 11 pm. The average bill per person is 800 rubles.
How to get there
The Singer House is located at Nevsky Prospect, 28.
The nearest metro station is Nevsky Prospekt, with access to the Griboyedov Canal.
The building is located across the street from the exit of the metro station, it is impossible not to notice it. In this place at the same time you can admire the 3 sights of the city:
- Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
- Kazan Cathedral
- Singer House
Tours to the observation deck on the roof
The tour includes a visit to the building and the roof, from where a stunning view opens to the Kazan and St. Isaac’s Cathedrals, the Church of Savior on Spilled Blood, Nevsky Prospect and the Griboyedov Canal Embankment. By the way, this is one of the safest roofs of St. Petersburg.
The duration of the visit to the observation deck is no more than 30 minutes.
Photo sessions are often organized on the observation deck. Particularly beautiful photos from the roof of the Singer House are obtained at sunrise or sunset. The choice of this place, in addition to its elegant location, is also the complete safety of the roof – you can climb even in high heels here.
In addition to the roof, you can arrange a photoshoot indoors, for example, in the cafe “Singer”. Also, the House of Books offers shooting in the halls of its store and the atrium.