Spectacular Finish to the Dual Year of Russian-Hispanic Tourism

The opening of the fountains of Petrohof, one of the most marked days of the calendar of the capital of northern Russia, was the framework in which this initiative was closed

Abel Amón. 01/06/2017

On May 20, Peterhof Museum, located in the spectacular palace of that name, inaugurated the spring season of 2017 with the traditional start of its striking fountains. This year’s festival was carried out with the support of the Ministry of Culture and served to close down the activities of this Dual Year of Tourism between Russia and Spain.

Thousands of people gathered in the park under the museum complex to attend the «Journey to the Country of Don Quixote», a presentation with which Peterhof paid tribute to Spain at the Spring Festival to celebrate the opening of its 176 sources and four waterfalls.«It is a gift that the Russians have made to Spain, it has been a precious act, with permanent and constant references to Spanish culture,» said the Spanish ambassador to the Kremlin, Ignacio Ybáñez. More than four hundred artists participated: dancers and dance ensembles, students from various theaters in St. Petersburg, as well as Spanish artists such as the pianist Manolo Carrasco or the Spanish violinist Elena Mikhailova.

Among the authorities present at the spring 2017 party were Ala Manilova, Deputy Minister of Culture, Georgi Poltavchenko, Mayor of St. Petersburg, Matilde Asián, Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain. St. Petersburg Mayor Georgi Poltavchenko congratulated all them for the opening of the summer season at Peterhof: «Everyone admires the extraordinary beauty of Peterhof, its welcoming parks and, of course, grateful to the people who gave us this phenomenal show today.» The opening of the fountains is a day of special significance for the inhabitants of St. Petersburg.

Peterhof, a spectacular setting of palaces, gardens and fountains
The Peterhof Palace is a palace and park complex located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. The palace and park complex of the city of Petrodvorets and its historic center is part of the World Heritage Site called «Historic Center of St. Petersburg and annexed monumental ensembles». The center of the complex is the Grand Palace, which is built in the sea terrace and is in baroque style.

Original design
The fountains of the gardens of Peterhof reach an unusual degree of beauty and creativity, being fed by natural springs, conforming a spectacular work of canalization of more than twenty kilometers of length constructed between the years 1721 and 1724 by the Russian engineer Vasily Tuvolkov. Within the complex of fountains stands out the one known as The Great Waterfall, a series of terraces crowned by golden statues, where a multitude of jets of water descend from the level of the palace by an embankment to the channel that carries the water towards the sea, inspired in the gardens of the Palace of Marly built by Louis XIV. Another of the most notable designs is the Sun Source, which consists of a cylinder that emits jets of water simulating the solar rays while the structure that supports it revolves around a vertical axis, so that the direction in which the sun is displayed is in permanent change.

In the 1730s the famous Samson fountain was added to the ensemble, depicting the figure of the biblical hero tearing the lion’s jaw with his own hands and symbolizing Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. This masterpiece was sacked by the German army during World War II, being a replica of the statue installed in 1947 which can be observed today.

Greater collaboration on encouraging tourism
Last weekend, a working forum of the Spain-Russia Joint Commission also took place in St. Peterburg, where a document was drawn up which contains suggestions for cooperation in the field of tourism, which were all studied at the meeting Spain- Russia, which was held in Moscow on May 29 with the presence of Álvaro Nadal, the Spanish Minister of Industry and Energy and the Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, together with a group of businessmen from both countries who have shown the need to increase the trade flow between the two countries to the extent that the sanctions mutually imposed by the Ukrainian conflict allow it.

Before the forum, held in the House of Journalists, the Russian Deputy Minister of Culture took stock of the Dual Year, valuing it in a very positive way, although he stressed that its closure does not mean that cooperation between the two countries ends. «We have to collaborate more with Spain, and we have great perspectives,» he said, recalling that Russia has recently opened a Tourism Office to reinforce the «permanent collaboration» between the two countries. That one in Madrid is one of 14 new tourism offices open in Europe and Asia to promote a sector hit hard by the crisis as of 2011. Until then, the Russian tourist market grew by 15% per year. The number of Russian tourists visiting other European countries fell as much as 70% in some Northern countries.

Vista del palacio poterhof

A fall that in Spain exceeded 30 %.The new impetus that Russia has wanted to give to this sector has already translated into positive figures, since in 2016 the number of Russian tourists who traveled to our country increased by 17% (about 650,000 people arrived), becoming the third Most visited country, behind Thailand and Cyprus. The expectations of the future raise this number to the million Russians who could choose our country every year. «But not only the issue is about increasing the flow of Russian tourists to Spain, -Alla Manilova said- but it is a two-way road, and the fact that Russia receives a year of about 150,000 Spanish tourists it is an insufficient figure·. Russia has a golden opportunity to relaunch its tourism offer and improve its infrastructure for the Football World Cup, which will take place next year”.

An appetizer of it is the Confederations Cup, which will bring together some of the best teams in the world this summer. A few kilometers away from Petrohof, the Russian national team will soon debut, where it will compete for example with Portugal, current champion of Europe, or Mexico, champion of North America. Apart from the sporting success of these events, it would be fundamental that the organizers do not Incur in the errors of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, when the budget was exceeded by almost 5 times and the economic surplus exceeded 50 billion dollars.

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