In 1900 the horse was king and at this time there were more than 200,000 of them in the city. Maintaining this huge herd - feeding and grooming them - was the job of thousands of professional stablemen. Another responsibility was the hauling away of tons of refuse created by the horses each day, a tiresome chore and a potential problem for human health.

Above: The Imperial Farm at Tsarskoe Selo

The finest stables in town were the Imperial Stables on the Moika Canal. They were originally built in 1720-3 by the German architect, Gobel, but they were rebuilt by Vasilii Stasov in 1817-23. At the center of the main facade of the building seen here, is a large church with an Ionic loggia facing the street. The building was huge and complex, it had four long facades bend to conform to its' location and it enclosed a large courtyard.

The Imperial Court required hundreds of fine animals every day to conduct its' normal business and many more on special occasions. The Tsar had his own personal horses, which were kept mostly at Tsarskoe Selo and Gatchina. Deep relationships often developed between the sovereign and his mounts. Many of these horses served their masters for years, accompanying their masters on a daily basis and also riding in parades and taking part in battles. It was hard work, but these horses were well cared for. Their stablemen came from across Russia and all over the world. They had Russian groomsmen, English trainers and German doctors to look after them. They lived in equine luxury near the Tsar's palaces and often accompanied him on his foreign travels. Their equipment and tack was the finest to be had, and it was kept in tip-top shape at all times. When the working days of these pampered animals were over they were sent to the Imperial stud farm at Tsarskoe Selo. Even in retirement they were remembered. The Tsar and his family would often visit their mounts in retirement. At the end of their days they were given funerals and buried in the horse cemetery, there graves honoring them by name, date of birth and death, and the Tsar they served.

Next photograph: In the Museum of Carriages

For a small map of the St. Petersburg area click here.

To see a large map of the center of St. Petersburg go here.

Comments on the website should be sent to Bob Atchison.

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