Programme of second day of ten-day St Petersburg celebrations

Grateful St Petersburgers have devoted the second day of ten-day anniversary celebrations, May 24, to builders and defenders of the northern capital.

The first event is a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to Motherland at the Piskaryovskoye Cemetery where hundreds of thousands of Leningraders lie who died during the 900-day blockade of the city by the Nazis (1941-43).

As part of an international conference of St Petersburg partner cities, "Preserving the Cultural Historical Heritage of Cities", agreements on cooperation between St Petersburg and three cities of Egypt, Palestine and Jordan will be signed. It is also planned to sign a St Petersburg declaration on preserving the cultural historical heritage of cities and hold a ceremony of giving presents to St Petersburg from its partner cities.

The first phase of 300th St Petersburg Anniversary Park will be opened on Primorsky Avenue. Honorary guests will help to plant 260 trees in the park lanes, mostly fir-trees. An Olympian lane will also be inaugurated in the park, attended by 19 St Petersburgers who were champions and prize winners of Olympic Games in different years.

For guests and members of official delegations, the Museum of Railways at Warsaw Station will organise retro-excursions round out-of-town residences of Russian emperors - "The Diamond Necklace of St Petersburg." On Vasilievsky Island, a monument will be unveiled to the legendary Vasily, who gave his name to that historical part of the city on the Neva. The background for the monument was provided by a tale about the commander of a fortification put up to defend the entrance to the Neva from the Swedes - Artillery Captain Vasily Korchmin. According to the legend, the founder of the city, Peter the Great, when sending his orders to Korchmin, penciled in a laconic inscription, "To Vasily on the island": this is how the island came to be called Vasilievsky.

An anniversary series of exhibitions in the northern capital will be opened by an exhibition called "300 Years of St Petersburg, 300 Years of Russia's Glory." In the evening, on Palace Square, the main square of the city, a unique Alexander Column will be unveiled after restoration - a red granite monolith 47.5 metres tall (together with the figure of an angel on the top holding a cross). The column is one of St Petersburg's architectural symbols.

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