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Field of Mars

An aerial view of the Field of Mars, a large park in central Saint Petersburg, Russia, pictured in 2016. It is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. The park's history goes back to the 18th century, when it was converted from bogland and named the Grand Meadow. Later, it was the setting for celebrations to mark Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Its next name, the Tsaritsyn Meadow, appears after the royal family commissioned Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli to build the Summer Palace for Empress Elizabeth. It became the Field of Mars during the reign of Paul I, becoming officially named such in 1805. Towards the end of the 18th century, the park became a military drill ground, where they erected monuments commemorating the victories of the Russian Army and where parades and military exercises took place regularly. After the February Revolution in 1917, the Field of Mars finally lost its significance as a military drill ground and became a memorial area, used to bury the revolution's honoured dead.

Photograph credit: Andrew Shiva

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