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Located in the heart of St Petersburg, a number of historical monuments, statues, palaces, parks and highways together form the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments. Featuring different architectural styles such as Neoclassical, Baroque and Russian-Byzantine, the city is frequently referred to as the 'Venice of Russia' and extremely popular among tourists. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the year of 1991.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Mary, often referred to as the Finnish church, is among Russia's biggest and oldest Protestant churches dating back to 1745. The building was built by the Finnish community of St Petersburg and has served as a residential home and a natural history museum through the years before being handed back to the church. It has undergone numerous restorations over the centuries and features remarkable Neoclassical architecture with a large stately front porch and imposing Roman columns.
In 1704, Peter the Great employed Frenchman Le Blond to design a luxurious formal garden in the manner of Versailles. In 1777, the beautiful garden with fountains, imported trees and more than 200 Italian statues was unfortunately ruined by a flood. Today's slightly more austere incarnation can be ascribed to the more restrained taste of Catherine the Great. Nowadays, more than 80 statues reside at the park; in the winter, they are eerily encased in wooden boxes for protection from the winter elements. In the summer, the relaxed calm of the gardens makes it a popular destination for weddings and parties.